29 September 2008

Jennifer Cohen in NJ who sells manga on ebay, I detest you

This morning I opened a real ebay dispute with jennypaddybeagles, aka Jennifer Cohen. Last word from her is still on September 1, when she closed the unpaid item dispute with the brief note of "I will ship the item". No word since. Paypal refused to reopen the dispute I had closed (duh), but their protection only runs for 45 days. Ebay protects for 60 days. So I waited till the Paypal protection window had closed because when its still open ebay simply redirected my dispute to paypal, who obviously was not going to help me. So now its up to ebay. They have already said they will not/can not intervene directly for a buyer, but at least now they'll be sending her actual dispute notices, instead of just me trying to bug the crap out of her every few days. Miss Jenny has literally dissappeared off ebay since that last note. I left negative feedback and emailed her about 10 times but nothing. She's not selling anything, and she hasn't left feedback on my account either. So I guess she's a deadbeat now. She started out as a moron, saying she knew what she was doing but at the same time her listing proved she did not (remember SHE had it linked to pay the wrong email address, I couldn't have done that on my own as I didn't even know her name before this).

So I will wait and see if I can get my item or my $30 back. If not, for future reference, Jennifer Cohen in NJ who has/had the username "jennypaddybeagles" and who attended the College of New Jersey, you are an idiot. Please stay off ebay if you can't deal with people or the internet.

FCI World Agility Championships

I've been keeping an eye on the goings on at the FCI worlds over the weekend, starting last Friday. Unfortunately each of our teams had at least one major fault and none placed very high. Individual rounds went well overall though, with 2 out of 3 heights being won by the US. Congrats to Wave and Juice for a job well done. Marcus Topps had a great weekend, with 4 clean runs, in the top 4 for each. Fantastic!

One day I hope to attend an event like this and do well myself. More and more I'm thinking Drifter is just my warm-up dog to this sort of thing. He's incredibly fast (on a level with Juice, generally), but he's just not as consistent. And he just turned 6 so the time for him to be able to do well at 26" is ticking away quickly. I don't think he's one to be jumping 26" till he's 10, so this year is going to be his only attendance at Tryouts in May. He'll spend the rest of the year at 26 trying for IFCS, and if he makes that team then obviously he'll stay up till he attends that championship event, but if he makes neither team he'll go straight back down to 22" after USDAA Nationals in 2009.

My future hope is now resting on Seri. The wild happy crazy dog who flops on my couch and makes a great pillow. She has tons of power, a better neck and more flexible spine than Drifter, and she's a bit more biddable (less "fighting" me around the course). And she's fast as blazes when she keeps it together. Drifter is now my warm up for Seri's future. She won't be ready for probably 2+ years to even try out for FCI team but when she is. . . she'll be a force to be reckoned with. Already I am trying to tailor my training with world team in mind. Obviously she won't show that in the 3 shows she's entered in coming up, but I'm hoping to see hints of it. She'll need a few trials (or more) to get over the pure excitement factor involved in showing, but when she settles . . . watch out!

And no, I'm not forgetting Kiba. Kiba is my IFCS dog. She just wouldn't be competitive at 26", in addition to which I am not willing to jump her that high for any amount of time. She's too small. I've not seen good things come of dogs that small jumping that high for long periods. And she's soft besides. So she can continue developing into my 22"/20" steady dog. I'd like to do things like make Finals without being completely on edge during the entire course. . . lead out without wondering if she's going to get up and come blasting to my feet. . . nice relaxing things that set her apart from my other maniacs.

27 September 2008

Bayshore Recap


Today I went to Bayshore at Freehold park in New Jersey. There was a threat of rain from a storm off the coast but we managed to avoid anything horendous. Around noon it started to mist constantly, but that was it. Kiba was excellent. The retarded dog from last week was GONE. She won both classes for her 4th double Q, running JWW at about 6.34YPS, and standard at 4.74YPS. Honestly I don't think she put a foot wrong anywhere, and the courses were no cake walk. Drifter came this close to a double, winning 24" JWW with the fastest time of the entire class, running at 6.42. Standard was a tricky course that required him to stay on his see-saw without me there (I was behind), which he did, and to slow down and turn sharply off the dogwalk to avoid a tunnel trap, which he also did. And he jumped great too. But at the weaves he carried too much momentum and overshot his entry. I knew it was a bad entry for him, he is pressure sensitive so that outside soft side entry where he needs t come back in closer to me is tough for him to get. I didn't slow him down enough, and he didn't give enough effort either, so it was really both our faults. Frustrating though. Both dogs jumped like champs, and I was particularly pleased with Drifter's effort during turns and crosses keeping the bars up.

Tomorrow I am not entered, instead we are going to the final regular season Phillies game, against the Nationals. They just now clinched the division, so it's technically a "meaningless" game, but its going to be a great big party and someone from work who recently left is going to be there so we'll go and have fun.

(this picture is actually from Indy Regional. I love how it shows Kiba's ability to really crank it in and turn tight. She has great form as well, nice and round and centered well through the tire)

26 September 2008

AriZona

I got my FINAL confirmation for USDAA Nationals this morning. Well. I guess it's not really "Nationals" anymore, even though it is. It's Cynosport World Games! Whatever. It'll always be USDAA Nationals. Nobody I know walks around saying "hey I'm going to Cynosport! yeah!".

Drifter's team is 2 other black/white smooth-coated BC's, so feeling a little silly we called that team "Mucho Suave". We used to be "Smooth Moves" - because of the dogs' coats, but somebody else used that name too last year and we ended up getting labeled with "Smooth Moves Too". I guess we sent our entries second. But this year I can't imagine someone else used "Mucho Suave"! I love that!

I got sent several cute birthday cards for Drifter and his littermates yesterday. Here are his two littermates:


Reddi:


Jess:

Jess' owner got married and left agility not long after Jess started competing, so nobody really sees her anymore. And thus no action shot, just a cute couch cuddler.

25 September 2008

Class and Civil Rights

Class yesterday went well, with a few minor exceptions. Kiba hit/rattled a few bars and again I got to correct her for it. She needs that. She doesn't really hit them in the yard but when she gets excited she gets more careless (and more hard-headed!). Drifter handled well with only a few rubbed bars.

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Topic switch. This sort of behavior disgusts me. Imagine if we went back several decades, and you inserted the word "black" instead of "gay". Could you imagine allowing a popular vote to decide whether black people could marry? Sounds ridiculous now, doesn't it (I certainly hope it does!)? I get that people think because their religion tells them marriage is one thing, that means they think the state shouldn't be able to change that. But guess what? Marriage isn't just religious. It IS a state issue. It governs tax laws, healthcare, home ownership, all kinds of things can change when you get married. To be told two people can't marry just because it offends someone else is pretty ridiculous. It just confuses the heck out of me that something that seems like a basic civil rights issue can be put to popular vote. If they vote to ban gay marriage, can another Supreme Court overrule it? If Alabama voted to ban black marriage, would it stand? I certainly hope not!

And if we let conservative, zealous religious voters govern our marriage laws, what's next? Making it illegal to eat meat during Lent? What? I thought the whole point of this country was to protect not just the majority, but also minorities, regardless of how many of them they were. And this vote, honestly, will come down to gays and people like me (who aren't gay but feel they deserve ALL the same rights and priveleges) versus religious conservatives. And who is the bigger group? Yeah. . .I'd bet on religious zealots too. There are a lot of them out there, and they're organizing!

Didn't mean to make my blog political, but honestly, this issue just pisses me off every time. There is no reason a group of people, no matter how large, should govern a minorities lifestyle just because it offends them. If we're going to ban marriage, how about Neo-Nazi's or something. Hate minorities? No marriage for you!

24 September 2008

Monday I brought Drifter back into the "house" part of the basement hoping he'd be able to calm down a bit by smelling that Seri is not in peak heat any longer. I also got a squirt bottle of water and when he started whining or mewling I said "quiet" and if he didn't stop I squirted him. Eventually he settled and then slept through the night quite nicely. And since he's slowly been growing more calm and going back to his old self. Yay!

Tomorrow is Drifter's birthday. He will turn 6 years old. Hard to believe he is already in his prime. I still feel like we're getting it together, but at the same time I feel like I've been running him forever. He's on his way to his 5th Nationals, all in Arizona. The firt time we went was right after he turned 2 years old in 2004. He was still jumping 22" and he won Team Gamblers! That was very cool. That was the last year I took Freeze with me. Running her at Nationals was an exercise in frustration. Sometimes she'd do well and fairly competitive, and sometimes she'd just shut down and run half-speed and knock down half the course. For all Drifter's flaws, if nothing else at least i know I always have a dog who really really WANTS to run with me, every single time.

When Drifter is not being an excitable crazy dog outside the agility ring, or a powerhouse athlete inside the ring, he can often be found doing things like this in the house:




He is definitely a dog who knows how to relax.









23 September 2008

Hmmmm

I do believe that if I plan properly and carefully, I can avoid hotel costs entirely next year except for Regionals. Which means that, obviously, I would not be needing a trailer. I am not jonesing for one so badly that I'd buy one if it actually cost me more than staying in hotels would. But I have several well-placed friends now with houses to share (in MD and in NC) so I think if I plan for the right trials I should do well on the financial front. Yay!

I have seen ads for trailers that are $129 a month, so if hotel costs did go up again the folding trailer would be a good option. But for now I'll wait and see what my calendar looks like. I have no problem staying with friends!

A Matter of Timing

I am going to miss the presidential election this year. We will be driving somewhere mid-country that Tuesday, with very little hope of making it home unless we happen to leave Sunday night and drive like demons (not likely when I have Wednesday off).

Therefore I'd like to implore all of you who are on the fence to get out there and vote for Obama. Especially if you live in Pennsylvania, which seems to be skewing Replublican. Go read up on policies and histories and the candidates past decisions. Do you really want someone who says things like the war in Iraq is a mission from God to be in the white house? I sure don't. That's not the way to run a country. And "the economy is solid" or whatever McCain said? Then he backpedaled and tried to say he meant "the workforce". Sorry, "Workforce" and "Economy" are not interchangeable nouns no matter which way you slice them. Fail!

No, Obama is not perfect and neither is Biden, but they are a damn sight better choice than more Replublican, conservative, Same Ole Bullshit.

Vote Obama. Do it FOR ME :-D

And if you're 18 or 21 or whatever and don't think your vote counts - you're wrong. Register. Do it. PA is an old-school state that needs more youngsters supporting change. Did you know Palin and McCain want to overturn abortion rights? ALL of them? They wish to overturn Roe v. Wade. That's probably not possible, really, in a legal sense, but that says a lot about them. 1 in 3 women in this country will or have had an abortion at some point in their lives, whether they approve of their own actions or not.

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ETA: I am going to register and attempt to get an absentee ballot. If they turn me down then big deal, right? Sharon, you should try as well! You can even claim it's FOR business since you teach!

22 September 2008

Team Found and Today's Practice

Managed to find a team on short notice. We even have a shot at qualifying! yay! (I'm not high pressure about Seri's team, but I'd to at least know I have a chance!)

Took some dogs to the field today to practice. I wanted to get Drifter back into a better partnership with me. I just want to keep lines of communication open with Kiba, and I took Seri along too because she's entered in Artful Dodgers in less than 2 weeks and she should be on the last leg of her heat by now. And then I said "what the hell" and took Singe too. I've been working on Singe's jumping and basic handling skills for a month or two now in the yard, and I wanted to start some bigger sequences with her.

All 4 dogs did really well! I was pleased. I started Drifter with some basic shoulder turn wraps with nice positive tug games for a reward and he was happy, then I ran a couple Masters/Tournament type of courses (including a broad jump - KIBA!). And they all did great. Drifter rubbed the double at 26 both times over it but I let that slide (it didn't fall) because he was so much better about just mentally partnering with me - even with Seri in the car! Kiba did well, as usual. Singe had a good first day of course work. I broke it up into a few large sections, and correcting her for ignoring collection cues, and rewarding her for paying attention to them. She didn't hit more than one or two bars. And even Seri did well, I don't think she hit any bars (at 26), and she was SCREAMING at me:-) Almost smashed her face on the aframe again, but she's hitting the contact fairly well considering how little she's been on it. Dogwalks were fast (I stopped her, her running DW won't be ready for prime time till the spring).

So I feel a little better today. And Drifter is actually sleeping in a soft crate in the living room here with me and Seri. HE still whines and moans once in a while but I think it's actually helping him to smell her better (since she's not in "make love now" heat any more). Maybe I can sleep through the night tonight (please!).

And in parting, here's a picture of Kiba looking disgusted. (sometimes she forgets to pull the tip of her tongue completely into her mouth)

Schedule and Team Needed

My upcoming schedule is this coming Saturday I have Bayshore, then Sunday we are going to the Phillies' last game, which is also Fan Appreciation Day with a tent party or something before the game. I don't know, sounds like fun as long as the weather is good.
October 4th, Saturday I am going to Artful Dodgers, then Oct 5th Sunday I am doing Wilmington AKC. October 11/12 is Keystone (20 minutes from my house, yay!), October 18/19 is Kinetic Dog at Fair Hill, then Friday October 24th we LEAVE FOR NATIONALS! I am so glad to be shifting focus from AKC and concentrating on Nationals for a bit. Although improvement is improvement, so we need to do some improving.

Drifter has been HORRIBLE this time Seri is in heat. He's never, ever been this bad before (and he's about to turn 6) with a bitch-in-heat in the house. I'm guessing the sheer proximity (tight quarters in my apartment, little air flow), and the idea that just *maybe* he knows what he's supposed to do now. Either way, he woke me up last night howling and scratching at his crate a couple time. Dork. If I decide to go work at the field today he will be SORRY that he's so tired!

Also, Seri's team fell apart for Fair Hill. So if anybody is looking for a 3rd (it closes next Monday the 29th), I have a young, fast 26" jumper looking for a team. She's wild but I can *usually* get her around the course. She does very well in practice so if her mind settles a bit she'll do very well. Hoping to qualify but will accept a baby dog team.
You can just leave a comment and then we'll get in touch, if you know of something.

21 September 2008

BLECH

I am a talented handler. I have talented dogs. I train regularly, in a useful fashion. I use rewards and punishments in a systematic fashion. I am firm but fair. I am consistent. My dogs and I both enjoy what we do.

Why, then do I have retarded weekends like this one?


JWW was what I usually call a Fun and Interesting Course. Challenging enough that the usual AKC title-chasers will cry a bit about it, but it was fairly flowey and had good challenges to it. I looked forward to running it. Kiba was first. It started with a tunnel, followed by a tricky 7-jump sequence to a fairly straight line with a broad jump in it, then a turn to the weaves. Well she did tunnel-jump sequence great, nice turns, good attention. then she flat out ran around the broad jump. It was obvious. White with green stripes. Poles at the corners. Despite the long grass it was very visible. And she just plain ran around it. So I brought her back. Sent her straight at it. She jumped it diagonally. WTF? By now I'm getting frustrated. I bring her back *again*, give her a 10 foot space, stop her, say "pay attention" then run at it again. She jumps it and we continue on. After the weaves is a U-shaped tunnel. Dog went in the near side of the U, then I moved off away from it, essentially leaving her in the tunnel, but I paused near the next jump facing her waiting for her to come to me. She didn't. She came out of the tunnel like a shot straight into the weaves, weaved about half of them, realized she was alone, left the poles and ran to the judge. Jumped up on him looking lost and pathetic. I had to walk over and say "let's go!" to get her back. Then she took a really wide turn on a front cross, so I paused to correct her for that (she passed my plane, something I won't accept), and when I restarted she ran across my feet to take an off course! ARGH! I said "thanks" to the judge and left. That had to be her worst run OF THE YEAR. Wow!

Drifter's JWW was another exercise in push-my-buttons, although AGAIN his only fault ended up being one bar. He's just running giving me about 80% attention instead of 100. It's Seri being in heat, I think. I don't even think he slept last night. He woke me up around 11 whining and HOWLING, something he's never done before. I had to shut the door to the basement, where he's crated. So I feel kinda bad for the guy, but at the same time it's unacceptable to act like that in the ring ANY time so he's got to deal with that.

This week will be a solid training week for us. And I am probably going to enter Springfield. I have to see if I am able to get Friday off for that one; if I go to Springfield I'd like to enter the ISC classes, but they run on Friday. I may ask at work tomorrow if I'm able to get that day off. The other concern about Springfield is that my least favorite AKC judge (remember Ms. Refusal Plane?) is judging JWW on Friday and Sunday. But I guess I'd go anyway, as my other choice in trials is a small 330 indoor trial way out by Erie, which is actually an hour farther away than Springfield MA. And I LIKE big competitive trials. I'll think about it.

20 September 2008

DVGSDC Day 1 Recap

DVGSDC = Delaware Valley German Shepherd Dog Club. I usually refer to this club as "GSD". typical 3-ring outdoor trial. Because Excellent was running in 2 of the rings we started JWW with 20", so Kiba was up first. The grass was long, weedy, and wet. And it was 44 when I got up and out. It was very cold. Everybody was bundled up and shivering and pathetic. It warmed up quickly to about 70, but walkthroughs were a chilly affair. JWW was a nice course, flowey with appropriate challenges and some nice front cross opportunities. Kiba was very good and ran clean, didn't even tick a bar! She got 2nd by .03 of a second to another fast BC who is a bit older than her (more experience).

Next up was Drifter's standard run. (His height was last in JWW). Standard was a pretty tough course, starting out with a double front cross weird figure-8 type thing leading into the dogwalk, with a nice trappy tunnel and another jump nearby. Then after the see-saw was a weird offset line to a "wrong" side tunnel, then another weird line to the aframe. Drifter's been a little "not there" what with Seri being in peak "love me now!" type heat, and him going slightly off his food. But I thought he might be better with a real pay attention course than he would be with a flat-out course. Keep his mind on me, you know? Well. . . he wasn't great. He knocked the 5th jump - the send-out-and-come-back part of the weird figure-8, then he went wide, shopping obstacles (how about this lovely tunnel? or this beautiful jump? Surely I could get that one!). Anyway I got him back without going off course, and he finished *ok* but it wasn't great by any means. His table (a down) was slow, but he did do it eventually. Our judge is from Puerto Rico, which was interesting. He said it was 96 when he left, then of course it was cold here, so he was enjoying laughing about that.

Kiba's standard was next. I had to be careful with the bars in her opening and I didn't call her as quickly as Drifter on the 5, and she left them all up. Got all the way through in lovely fashion till #18, the weaves. Where she ran right past the first pole and entered 2-3. D'OH! Made me very sad :-( I guess I'm glad she didn't hit any bars though, and aside from that she was running very well.

Drifter's JWW was immediately after Kiba's standard, and I didn't get to re-walk for him because I was running her, but I handled the same way. He stayed well, and aside from eyeballing the weaves an obstacle early (I kept him on course though with a quick "Drift" and a clap), and aside from flattening out and misjudging the triple a bit and taking that bar, he ran very well. But oh well. I still felt a bit like he wasn't quite partnering properly.

Poor guy is stuck in the crate out in the basement for now. Yesterday he decided to take out his frustration at not being given access to Seri by taking all the clothes out of a basket and strewing them about the room. He didn't chew any, but I'd prefer not to come into a bedroom full of clothing again. So a couple hours after I got back I took him for a 2-mile walk around the nearby neighborhoods. The pavement was a little warm from the sun but he survived. I thought a nice walk (on lead, of course) might help him relax a bit without tiring him out too badly and making him sore.

19 September 2008

Bye Bye Finals Byes!

Back in 2001 or whatever year it was that they instituted Finals byes and Regionals (which happened the same year, since one was designed to produce the other), we weren't really sure what to make of them. Suddenly we could win our way to Finals without actually going to Nationals. What a strange concept! That first year (like I said, I'm not sure if it was 2001 but it was about then), it was actually the first TWO placements at a Regional that made the Finals. This turned out sort of oddly since at least one Regional had a tough course where a dog that made 2nd, while not "slow", perhaps wouldn't have made the Finals at all by going to Nationals. After that first year it was reduced to first place in each height. I am still a bit ambivalent about the whole thing. On one hand I think it makes Regionals, which are a highlight of my year, a good deal less exciting; sure people will enjoy being "Regional Champion" but all you get towards Nationals is the same semi-final bye as everybody else who ran clean. So I think you will have less people going balls to the wall trying to win. Trophies are nice but really, mine are all collecting dust and I discovered yesterday that my 3rd place trophy from Finals in 2006 is actually BROKEN (I will say that USDAA does not have a history of high quality plaques and trophies!). So obviously the material winnings are not something I care a lot about. So Regional Grand Prix's will be less exciting. Not boring, certainly, but certainly LESS exciting. I won't have as big of an adrenalin rush, I can tell you that.
However. . . you may have noticed I was blogging about the unfairness of different-sized Regionals a month ago. I do feel that its not really fair for one Regional to have 100 dogs in GP and field a Finalist, while another has 60 and another has 200. But for Semi-finals, sure, I don't have a problem with that. I do like that it's a return to choosing Finalists from a completely level playing field - EVERYONE will run the same semi-final course, and EVERYONE has to run like it matters. No skating around training and not caring where you get seeded (right now if you win a Finals bye you get to run Semi's "for seeding purposes" which is usually synonymous with "for training purposes". I don't really think that's fair for dogs who didn't win Regionals. Should Regional winners deserve an extra training run? Probably not. Regionals are not supposed to be an advantage over Nationals, at least not how I think about it.

So I guess overall I'm still feeling fairly ambivalent. I understand the decision. It doesn't really bother me, and I like how it's fair to everyone. I don't like how it will change Regionals but who knows, it is an IFCS year next year anyway so I'm sure some people will be trying to win everything.

I like that individual DAM runs now count as Q's towards LAA, that is a nice addition. It was kind of silly to run 5 runs and only the overall score counted. Lot of money too for a chance at only one Q. DAM is this area is starting to run over $60 pretty regularly...

18 September 2008

Tournament Rule Changes for 2009 Season - no more Finals byes, but they've created the title of "Regional Champion" instead

Tournament Rules for 2008/2009 Season

Grand Prix of Dog Agility® and Performance Grand PrixSM
o Zero fault round to qualify at local, regional and
championship level
o One qualification required for entry to Regional Championship
and two (2) qualifications for entry to the quarterfinals of
the Cynosport® championships
o Six or seven regional championships to be held, with those
scoring in the top 50% of the class earning byes to the
Semifinals (no byes to the finals)
o Regional Championship trophies & titles to be awarded for
Regional Champions
o The total number of slots in the finals in each height class shall
be calculated base upon an analytical review of the number of
competitors qualifying through no less than two-thirds of the
tournament season, subject to limitations

Dog Agility Steeplechase® and Performance Speed JumpingSM
o A "competitive performance" resulting in "elimination" as a result
of performance error in the normal pursuit of a round shall be
included in the definition of competitors "actually competing" in
the qualifying score computations. However any competitor subjected
to disciplinary action by the judge for an incident in the ring
during the performance resulting in elimination ('dismissal'),
including a courtesy warning shall be marked as "Withdrawn" and not
included in the definition of "Actually Competing".
o One qualification required for entry to Regional Championship and
two (2) qualifications for entry plus qualification in one other
tournament to be eligible for entry to the quarterfinals at the
Cynosport® championships*

Dog Agility Masters® and Performance Versatility PairsSM
o No tournament qualification changes; however competitors may earn
individual qualifications towards Lifetime Achievement Awards in
Standard, Gamblers, Jumpers and Snooker by scoring within 15% of
the average of the top three scores in each class in their height
division. However, should there be less than 5
competitors "actually competing" in either height class of the mini-
dog division or 7 competitors "actually competing" in either height
class of the open dog division, then the average shall be
calculated within the division (i.e., mini and open); if there are
fewer than 5 competitors "actually competing" in a division, then
the first place score in the division shall be utilized for
calculating the allowable qualifying score. (Note: In snooker and
gamblers, the calculation is based upon points earned. In jumpers
and standard the calculation is based upon the sum of time and
faults.

Example: The top three scores in snooker are 51, 47 and 46. The
average is 48.00 (no rounding). To score within 15% of this score
(40.80), a competitor must score 41 points or more to qualify. The
top three scores in gamblers are 68, 65 and 49. The average is
60.66 (no rounding). To score within 15% of the average score of
51.57, a competitor must score 52 points or more to qualify. )

You know you're a success when. . .



So my company made the Fail Blog last night. This is a real picture from a couple years ago. In fact, we use this exact same picture in some safety literature and warnings to the drivers about backing. There is a parking lot up top there and the driver backed over the curb which tumbled him to that spot, where he sat. ooops! All our trucks have back-up cameras now. I don't think this specific accident initiated that. Apparently about 70% of our accidents (meaning FedEx Ground) were during backing.

17 September 2008

TV!

Tired of hearing from me today yet?

Actually I have meant to post this one for a while now and keep forgetting. It's a getting to know me sort of post. I wanted to share the TV shows that I bother watching. I watch very few "network" type shows, and all primtime shows are DVR'd since my bedtime is 7-8pm during the week.

The channel I watch most is BBC America. Not all the shows, of course, but in order of addiction here is what I like:
the new Doctor Who (resurrected in 2005 I think). Great show. Love it.
Torchwood - spin off of the above but about humans. Mostly.
Top Gear - a highly addictive show about 3 humorous Brits and the cars they test. HILARIOUS!
Primevil (haven't seen a lot yet but its pretty good so far)

The only primetime network shows I regularly watch are House and CSI, and I'm sort of drifting away from CSI because it's been changing a lot, and now with Grissom leaving the show. . .
I love House though.

Comcast has a channel called G4 that is mostly about video games and strange Japanese game shows. I watch "Attack of the Show" on that one, which is about current entertainment culture, video games, and viral videos from the internet.

Other shows I watch are usually Discovery channels.
What Not to Wear - love it but don't go out of my way to record it. Amuses me to no end.
Mythbusters - wonderfully entertaining and educational.
Dirty Jobs - mostly just funny, although there's interesting bits.
I Shouldn't Be Alive - hasn't been on much lately, but very interesting
and other various science and/or nature programs. I was watching something about Darwin's theories the other day, for example.

I also watch Phillies and Eagles games when they're on, although sometimes I get bored and change the channel back and forth.

Oh, and I read books. A lot.

To ISC or not to ISC?

So I had originally planned to go to Springfield Cluster AKC trial the weekend before Thanksgiving. Well, at first I thought that was Thanksgiving weekend, but it's not. Thanksgiving is the last weekend in November. So I'd need to take Friday off for Springfield. If it had been Thanksgiving then I might have been able to work Thursday and take Friday off (sometimes I can do that on holidays) without using vacation.

The problem is that we have a "black-out" period for vacation days from mid-November to end of December for peak season at FedEx (you can guess why - we don't overstaff so we are pretty taxed in holiday shipping season). The other option is to maybe just enter ISC Friday night and leave work early and head up. But then I'd have no warm-up or practice before-hand, so what's the point. Also in the vein of whats-the-point, I will be qualified for Tryouts as soon as I pick up one more Standard leg, so it's not like I NEED to win ISC or anything. I just have a competitive streak which makes me think "hey I'd like to win that at the biggest AKC trial around (in the country, maybe)!". Then again I looked at last year and there weren't that many amazing dogs entered in the ISC class at the event, so maybe not such a big deal. It did occur to me though that if I won that it might look good on my "record" for Tryouts. Worth 5 hours driving each way plus entry fees and day off of work? Maybe not. And what would look better yet on my "record" would be great performance at AKC Nationals in March, so I guess since I'm devoted to trying to go to that I shouldn't worry about some silly ISC classes. It's just. . .my competitive streak keeps nipping at me saying "you could totally win that!". And my practical frustrated streak says "yeah but odds are good you'll lose it for yourself by knocking a bar!"

So I think what I'm doing instead is entering 3 regular, smaller AKC trials in November. I didn't want to trial the weekend after I got back from AZ but I am planning to now. Two local-ish trials that are commute-able, and one in NC that I can stay at a friend's house for (If I got in, haven't heard yet and it's only a 330 trial). If I don't get into that little one in NC maybe I will go up to Springfield at least for the weekend just for another trial. We'll see.

Ridiculosity and getting mean

So I have emailed my stupid seller twice in the last week and still no response. I tried to re-open my dispute with Paypal but they emailed back and said you can't reopen a dispute once it's closed. WHAT? Does that make any sense? That just because you thought a dispute was over with, and now it's not, you are SOL? So I emailed their Customer Service again saying that it was ridiculous and I want my money back, that I had emailed the seller over and over and now they are not responding. I didn't use a credit card so I can't call them to get the payment stopped or charged back, it's up to Paypal to do that.
ETA: Oddly, Paypal Customer Service responded like 2 minutes after I sent it (at 4:57 in the morning?) saying "sorry for the delay" and re-iterated that they can't reopen a dispute.

I also went into ebay and left negative feedback. It's the seller's first negative, and it drops her feedback rating from 100% positive down to 90.9. Hopefully THAT will catch her attention. Idiot. She kept saying "this has never happened to me" and "I haven't had a problem before". Oh, yeah, like I TOTALLY Googled the hell out of you and FOUND your old email address and randomly decided to pay that through Paypal instead of your current one. How in the hell can you construe that as my fault? I clicked the link that said "Pay with Paypal" and that's where the link took me. It's not my fault it was set up wrong. I can also call miss Jennifer Cohen in NJ (know her? Tell her to send me my damn items). But I don't think that would be real productive. But I will try it if Paypal won't help me.

I will also keep emailing Miss Cohen every day. Just to get the point across.

ETA: I also just emailed ebay's customer service reporting the problem and telling them what happened. Hopefully they will be able to contact the seller as well and get her to either refund my money or send the damn item.

16 September 2008

Videos

You know, I like to tell stories about my runs at trials. For instance, how Drifter was sort of a jerk in Gamblers but totally nailed Standard last Saturday. I don't have his YPS because honestly I don't usually look in USDAA, but he was pretty fast. 37.6 seconds on a relatively big Masters course at 26" isn't too shabby. Anyhow, I'd love to show you video of my runs. In fact, I even have a YouTube account. Really! Sadly you will get no video, because I don't have a camera that does video. I have a lovely professional-looking digital Olympus with 2 different zooms for taking still pictures. It's great, really. But it doesn't do video. At all.

So anyway, if you've been jonesing for some Drifter videos, here's my solution. SEND ME A CAMERA :-D

I promise if someone sends me a video camera (digital, please:-) I will start getting videos of my runs. At least some of them. To post here and on my youtube for the world to enjoy. Wouldn't ya love that? Poetry in motion, for you to admire!

15 September 2008

Jennypaddybeagles, you are a D-bag. . . Ninja Cat.

I still have not received my $39.99 purchase from ebay. WTF? you may ask? Me too. I will be opening a dispute with Paypal tomorrow and attempting to get my money back, and leaving some scathing feedback on ebay. Ridiculous. I've been buying/selling on and off on ebay since 2001, and I have NEVER had an issue like this. Never. Now I haven't had a lot of transactions, no, but I have figured it out each and every time. This girl doesn't even seem interested in figuring this out, she is unresponsive, uncommicative, and her responses seem to implicate me instead of helping to look for the problem. Especially stupid considering it was her bad paypal link that started this whole thing. 'Kay, i paid for this thing on AUGUST 13! I WANT IT NOW! I WANT IT 3 WEEKS AGO!

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Check this video ou
t. And you thought lolcats were funny.

Seri aces the dogwalk

I worked on Seri's running dogwalk today. Last time I tried to let her run she didn't have an obvious "next obstacle" to focus on, which is the foundation of how I train it lately, so she was predictably unfocused and was coming off a little high. Today I put a jump on either end at about 14 feet away. Close enough to really grab her attention and make it obvious what I want next, but far enough that she wouldn't fall on her head trying to get on the dogwalk after jumping it. Then we ran it both directions - jump-dogwalk-jump-reward. No back and forth, I wanted her focused each time. She was fantastic. Nailed every single contact and we did probably 15 reps. Woohoo! Fast too, probably in the 1.4 range, I'd say, trying to judge her against Drifter. Full out running, no hesitation, nothing. Real running - back feet way over-striding the front ones in true giraffe/cheetah style. I'm totally excited about it. Now I just have to work in all the crazy verbals and body cues and such that Drifter has and I'll be set. Ahhh, training. Takes forever! And really, who is ever FINISHED training their dog? There's always something else to work on!

I guess Seri will need a "back" into the tunnel if she's to have a true running dogwalk. *sigh* Guess that's gonna wait till she's out of heat!

Arizona, some thoughts on the weather

So I found a site that says the average high temperature for October in Phoenix is 88. But the average high in November is only supposed to be 75. So if you figure it's a downward sloping scale, that would probably mean the end of October into the beginning of November is supposed to be around 78-83. That would be perfectly OK with me. Sadly, the last few years its been beastly hot, like 90's or so. And sunny. Like super sunny. Then with scary storm clouds that usually never actually storm on us. Ick.

Anyway the last year we had great weather (like the 78-83 range) was in 2005. What else happened in 2005? My friend/student/traveling-person-with-ADHD went to Nationals! What is happening this year? This person is going again! Yay! So I'm telling you right now that we will be expecting great 78-83 degree weather with low humidity and no rain! hehe! although I think we actually had a spat or two of rain (brief though) in 2005. Can't remember for sure. Whatever. I just want coolER than the last two years. They were brutal. 2006 especially I think was bad. And then the darned GP Finals are right in the heat of the afternoon :-( At least the night-time activities are fun and a little less beastly. No sunburn anyway. I have to say running under the lights is REALLY cool!

Good news for those of us driving to AZ!
That's the lowest price for a barrel since April. So. . . how come my gas prices locally are stagnating right around 3.49? Come on! The average in April in my area was 3.23, in March it was 3.16. I'm hoping to see those levels again soon!

14 September 2008

Next Year Planning Stage

If I can save up a little cash for a down payment and can keep the monthly payments low (like low low) I may spring for something cute like this to pull with the van.



I figure it gives me a nice place to hang out at trials, a cheap place to sleep compared to hotels, and no more worrying about finding a hotel that will actually accept my multiple (quiet, well-behaved) dogs without charging an arm and a leg (and then some). Most hotels at trials I travel to are running $80+ a night, AND they charge pet fees, usually $10-25 per night. See why I've been trying to avoid hotels? But I know I'm going to Regionals next year, and if I had something like this I could hit a few more Tournament trials without worrying about hotel bills. Might be nice! Or even AKC trials that are just a TAD too far to commute. Anyhow, it folds down like a pop-up tent trailer but is completely hard-sided and only takes 30 seconds to set up and take down. Its crowded inside so definitely a 1 person (or 2 really close persons) . But its got a cute bunk bed option under the main bed so the dogs would have a little extra out-of-the-way space.



There are actually 2 brands that make these with similar weights (1300 - 1430lbs) and options. You can get A/C, heat, refrigerator, running water (no toilet/shower but I could rinse off at least, and wash my hands). And a DRY place to hang out, and make my dogs happy by being "home" everywhere and not necessarily stuck in the car all the time.

Anyway, don't know if it will happen or not, but I've been looking into it, so I may be getting something like this next spring sometimes (early spring, if I can!).

Jumps

Did some jump work today. Due to the extremely annoying 90-degree plus high-humidity weather it had to be short and useful. Also I want to give my toe a few days of light work before I start really getting in gear for Nationals.

So I set a line of one of the hard distances for a big-strided fast dog - 15 feet. I set 6 jumps in a slightly offset but mostly straight line, all at 14-16 foot distances. Ran Seri at 26" (which is to be her USDAA height from now on; she's ready), and predictably she overshoots pretty consistently, giving her the rush-to-the-base and fling-your-ass style sometimes, but that's why I used SIX jumps all at a similar distance, so she could work it out in her head. I led out about halfway and walked or jogged forward down the line once I released the dog. Seri did figure it out and actually didn't hit many bars at all, but she is still awkward, since she's not reading the line ahead of time as much as she should be. She does big-jump followed by little-stride down the line, but she's still fast.

Drifter I also worked at 26 and he did very well. He clearly has experience judging the awkward distances and he actually was able to pick out the one that was slightly shorter (14ish feet) and bounced that one consistently. No bars, although I corrected him for ticking one or two.

Kiba worked at 22, and while I thought she'd have no trouble, being small and smaller-strided, she actually hit a bar or two pretty hard. She still needs to read the line ahead of time. No bouncing from her, she lacks the power unless they are 12' or so.

Now we are hiding inside. Supposed to go to the Phillies today but last time we went in 90+ it was horrible in our seats so we are skipping.

Car Spotting

I remembered what I was going to mention yesterday. On the way home from the trial I passed 3 very interesting, fun to see cars in the space of about 2 minutes. First was a genuine original Delorean in silver:


Next was a brand spankin' new Challenger in road rage Orange(the 2nd one I've seen on the road):


Last was a lovely restored '69 Camaro, in a sparkling dark green (obviously not this one, although I admit I like it in this color!):

13 September 2008

Vacuums are evil

Vacuums Suck!

(hehe, sorry)

Anyways my mom left a vacuum in the kitchen cuz she couldn't get ours together while we were at work and she had kindly wanted to vacuum under our bed - the contractors who are working on the house needed to drill a hole in the wall in our bedroom.
So I came home from work and ate lunch and walked back into my kitchen, barefoot as usual, and SMACK went my right little pinky toe on the vacuum. OW yells I. Blood dripped on my fingers as I gripped it, grimacing in pain.

It's still a real possibility the nail will come off, but if you noticed me hobbling off and on at Flexi that's why. Still hurts. It's kind of red and purple. I don't think it's broken, but still. Ouch.

There was something else I was going to mention but now I've forgotten. As a consolation prize, here's a picture of baby Seri attacking the couch cover (she did that constantly, often rolling around on her back while tugging it!). Naughty Puppy! (from Aug '06)

Flexible Flyers

I had entered Seri in all 4 classes today but with her in heat I had little to do. Drifter was entered in the first two Masters classes at 26" to get him back out, but I didn't enter anything else figuring I'd concentrate on the youngster. Oh well. So Drifter got 2 runs this morning. Gamblers was first thing, he was like 5th dog in. He was WILD. It was the first time he's worn his head halter and he actually seemed much worse than at the last few AKC trials where I've been using just a buckle collar. Anyhow, whether that contributed or not, he started out jump, chute, then I had stopped to front cross out of it and he just went flying past, ran around behind me and headed to the aframe, banked off the bottom, then realized I had stopped and slowly came back. "What are you doing?" I implored angrily. . . so then we did Aframe jump (which he knocked) tire jump see-saw. . . and he didn't wait one bit on the see-saw, just went sliding right up and off and landed like "what now?" and I said once again "WHAT are you doing??!" so we repeated the see-saw and he STAYED on the end for about 10 seconds, then we finished up and he was better till the buzzer, where he did the gamble except knocked the last bar. OK, not too bad with bars considering he hasn't run 26 in a trial since June 2007.

Second class was Standard. Nice flowey course but some weird tight distances up in the corner, so I did think a bar or two would come down. Well it didn't. I took him to the ring on a buckle collar and he was a good deal calmer (weird but true) although he was still ripping grass up a lot. Whatever. Anyway he ran CLEAN, handled well, nailed all his contacts, and laid down on the table in a reasonably quick time period. I think he probably won but I didn't stay to check.

Drake had fun socializing. Now I'm home for the day, and tomorrow we go to the Phils/Brewers game.

11 September 2008

yay

Speaking of USDAA Nationals, I got my confirmation Email today! woohoo!
Goin' to Scottsdale!

I just wish Scottsdale wasn't so damned far away. . .it's about 35 hours of driving - or 2 and 1/2 days.... so I spend as many days driving as I do in the actual event. Ick. If the rumors of it moving next year are true I hope they are more central (or dare I say, even more east than west?). Make the Californians drive 2+ days for once!

Even Dallas wasn't bad, that's 2 short days of driving, or one and a half for me. One night in a hotel is bearable on the road, two is getting crazy boring. And I'll be traveling with ADD Lady besides!



Our haul from 2006: 2nd in Team Standard, 3rd in Team Gamblers, 3rd in GP Finals

Class, Aframes, Crashes and Crunchtime

Class yesterday went well overall. Kiba had some "duh moments" as she's prone to do from time to time, which is OK for now. She hit a few bars at 22 that I got after her for. She always looks shocked when I growl at her, and because bar-knocking is becoming an issue with her I have gotten sterner in my corrections for bars. I growl and lie her down and start over. Definitely makes an impression but she's bouncing back ok too, not falling apart mentally. She's come a long way since she was a pup who ran back to my door and refused to come back when I said "no" gently. Drifter ran very nicely at class, 3 perfect gorgeous dogwalks, did well on the 5'10" aframe that he hasn't seen much of since early July. He knocked a few bars at 26 but that is to be expected for a bit. He's adapted well to 24, and he is good at 26 in practice so it may take a bit of time, but he should be ready by the winter. He's not doing that run-so-fast-up-to-the-jump-then-takeoff-late-and-go-ass-over-teakettles thing anymore, if anything he's erring on the side of taking off early, which I am optimistic about.

It is officially SIX weeks until Sharon and I depart for Scottsdale by way of Austin TX. I am beginning to get excited. weeeeeeeeeeee

I am contemplating spending the last month of trialing up to Nationals on speeding up Kiba's aframe. I am thinking I may not worry about getting her to AKC Nationals this year. She's a one bar wonder right now, and her aframe needs fixing long-term. I just manage it for now but that's not going to speed up over time like a running will. She will run it if I run by and tell her to go, but she's about 50/50 for making it/missing it. However I've noticed that if I just run full-out for several aframes in a row at trial then she starts hitting lower and lower. So. . . perhaps it would be a good thing to spend the last few weekends of AKC with the 5'6" aframe getting her to run a little harder and to hell with double Q's. That's a hard slant to take but it might be worth it in the long run. There's a true running aframe in there somewhere waiting to get out, I know it.

One of our two computers at work crashed today. So I may not be online much today. Later I have to drive out to the vet and get a note about Seri being in heat and some heartworm meds.

10 September 2008

Talkative

So I think my Kinda-Sorta-Almost Cold is going away. Never did do more than verge on sickness, but whatever. I will probably take Drifter and Kiba to class to try to work on bar-knocking.



If only I had just 2 dogs, and a whole lot of money. This would make a wonderful dog-mobile for me then :-) It's a CTS-V with an ass!









And if I had $60K to blow on any new car, I'd probably get this one:


It's a Porsche Cayman. Sort of like a sportier hard-top version of a Boxster. Not quite a 911, but a good bargain. Even gets pretty good gas mileage! I have a thing for German precision driving machines. I also covet BMW's and Audi's. Perhaps far in the future I will be able to get a nice used one for myself.

Until then, I will continue to covet Honda Odyssey Touring's with all the bells and whistles:-)

Trial Note

I've decided that I'm definitely NOT going to Springfield AKC trial. Hotels are expensive, and I'm optimistic that I'll get my double-Q's in the local trials I have remaining. I have 4 days of AKC remaining until USDAA Nationals, and there are 2 local trials in November after that if I need them. But now I have a consolation prize - Tryouts. As I mentioned previously, they do count performance at AKC Nationals as meaning a lot. But I'm pretty sure they wouldn't take me anyway, unless I won Tryouts. I don't give off the right vibe to make AKC guru's real fond of me. They wouldn't choose me outright. I'd have to win anyway. So going to Nationals would help me, but it's not the end of the world if I don't go. I could still go to Tryouts and have some fun and just maybe kick some ass. I would still like to go to Nationals, and if we qualify I certainly will go, but if I don't then I won't feel as bad knowing that at least I can go do something I've been wanting to do for a long time now. While honestly before this year I had very little, if any, desire to go to AKC Nationals.

So not a bad deal, only took me 2 months of AKC trials to get q'd for Tryouts, that's not too shabby at all. And yes, I do need one more Standard leg, but trust me getting the required YPS is not a problem, and I'm assuming I can squeak out one more in 4 tries. I may not, but if I don't I'll be surprised.

Byes

Speaking of byes, I've heard some people complaining that there shouldn't be Finalist byes at Regionals, only Semifinalist ones. Now that would shake things up a lot, wouldn't it? Personally, I'm a little confused that you can get a bye into Finals of Grand Prix, but not Steeplechase. After all, if Grand Prix is supposed to be the main event, and more difficult, why is it more difficult to get into Steeplechase Finals? I'm not that annoyed about it, really, it just seems a little. . off-kilter somehow. Unbalanced. I think the difficulty will be balanced next year as far as qualifying for Semifinals in Round 2 since you'll have to be clean in both with the new GP rule added to the new Steeplechase Regional 15% rule. I'm still not sure I like either one, but I'm happy they will be balanced out to a similar level now.

As far as local byes, I just think there are too many. Really. I saw all kinds of dogs that had byes into the second round at each Regional, and I just looked at those dogs and though "Why?! Who could they beat?".
To me, that is just wasting time. It wastes the judge's time, the competitors' time, the ring crew's time, the office's time, etc. Sure, maybe that person was excited to win that bye, but that person was probably excited to win the local GP anyway. Did they beat 7 dogs in 22"? then they didn't deserve it. I think USDAA is giving away too many byes at a local level, especially in areas that don't have a lot of entries. What the solution is I don't know, but I personally view that as a problem. I don't like it. It's just one of those things.

I am a person who is bothered by details out of place. And to me, an dog who runs GP's at 4.5YPS should not have a bye.

Small dogs are harder to figure since their entries are often tiny, but I have to hold the same viewpoint, just to a lesser degree. They should at least beat a few dogs to get one. Not just one, and certainly not if they're the only dog.

Keep in mind this is all just musings. I doubt anything will change, I'm certainly not a member of the board. But I am very focused on the competitive nature of the sport, and of Tournaments in particular. I see something I consider unfair, and I'm wondering how it could be made better. This is my JOURNAL after all, public or not, so don't shoot me just because you don't agree with everything I'm saying ;-P

ETA: This is officially the most edited post I've ever made, as I keep thinking of new things to add on. Perhaps another solution might be that when there are particularly large trials, say GP entry of over 80 or 90 dogs, they could award 2 vouchers. Or they could go by jump height - say more than 60 dogs in 22" and they get 2 vouchers, something like that. With limits for each height. It wouldn't solve the problem of having dogs who don't belong in the 2nd round at Regionals, and it wouldn't make the class go faster either, but at least it would give dogs who only have access to pretty large local classes a better shot at competing with those from smaller ones. One single wide turn out of a tunnel and you're out of the running in some areas.

One more edit as of 11am EST - Look. Obviously this subject bothered some of my (few) readers. I don't care. This is how I feel, that the system isn't quite equal across the country. The odds are very good that the system won't be changing any time soon, so RELAX. I'm not saying that the USDAA Tournament system is crap. It's not. I like it. I do well. I will continue to like it. (and do well) but I think there is room for improvement. How can you think its perfect as is? Nothing is perfect, and USDAA is usually slow to change anyway.

09 September 2008

A smaller note on Regionals

They were kinda small this year. If they're like this every year, I guess I just didn't notice. I've never gone to any but the Southeast and Northeast before, which are traditionally 350-500 dogs each. This year was a non-IFCS year, so next year should be larger, but still. I just read USDAA's brief note about the TX regional and there were only 20 dogs in the 2nd round of 22" GP down there! That's puny! I think Indianapolis even had more dogs than that and that Regional seemed tiny to me. I heard Colorado was pretty small too. Now, I think the dog that won in TX probably could've gotten into Finals at Nationals no problem, so I don't feel bad that they got the spot, but it just doesn't seem right to me that some Regional winners only beat a few other dogs to get in, meanwhile others had to beat pretty large classes. Southeast Regional had 69 dogs in round 2 of 22" AND 26 of those ran CLEAN. Northeast was larger still. I'm sure Bay Team had similar numbers to Northeast. So there's this weird split, with 3 large Regionals, and 3 or 4 smaller ones. And I'm sorry but no way should the ONLY dog in Round 2 get anything but a ribbon. Yeah, that IS harsh, I'm sorry 12" class but I can't feel any other way. Maybe if they institute a rule like if there's less than 5 dogs in 12", then they have to be within 125% of the 16" winner's time in order to get the bye or something - just to prove they weren't a slow dog who happened to be the only one that showed up or ran clean.

The system, in my opinion, isn't broken. It's just. . . wobbly. I'm not so dissatisfied that I'd protest or pitch a fit or anything, but I can't say I'm totally satisfied with it either. I also think there are way too many local grand prix bye's being given away. I'd like to see some sort of limit to those. They are hard to come by in my area (large classes, and not a ton of trials offering GP's) but easy in others (small classes, TONS of local GP's). So some great dogs in this area don't have byes to Regionals, while some mediocre dogs in other areas do. Again, just seems like it could use some attention. Either a limit of some sort to how many GP's an area can have, or a minimum of dogs entered in a class in order to award a bye (I actually like that idea, no more going to backwater trials with 5 dogs to get a bye).

ETA: I've been told the "20" number was semifinalists who qualified from the 2nd round in TX. So the TX Regional is not as good of an example. It was sort of medium-sized, 42 dogs in the 2nd round vs 69 in Perry and probably more in NE.

Crazy House

So poor Drifter has gone straight from being a little uncertain about eating because Singe was in heat upstairs, to being a little uncertain about eating because Seri is in heat downstairs. I'm sure he'll get worse as the week goes on. He's still eating ok right now. He'll still work just fine, and he performs the same at trials no matter the hormonal distraction, but I really don't want him underweight going into the final stretch of trials before Nationals. (Nationals! We leave in like 6 weeks! Wow!)
So despite the cost I may pick up a bag of EVO or EVO Red Meat for him to keep shoveling the calories in. I have a bag of Healthwise Lamb/Oatmeal on the way via our bulk-ordering friend, but I think the higher protein/fat/calories will help Drifter keep his shine and muscle. He can easily go from 38lbs down to 33 if he doesn't eat well for a month or so. He is a muscled boy. Then I guess I'll just keep him on that until after Nationals. I can give it to Kiba too since I'm sure she'll be expending plenty of energy worrying about the car ride down there (she doesn't sleep or relax well in the car). She won't go onto it until right before Fair Hill though, I don't need to be feeding high-cal food to a dog who could stand to lose 1/2 a pound.

My "house" (which as I've mentioned is a basement apartment) is kind of crazy right now. Drake, at 7 months, isn't trustworthy loose while I'm at work, so he's got a crate in the kitchen. Drifter used to be gated into my bedroom/hallway area, and then Kiba and Seri in the living room/kitchen (if Kiba's allowed in the hallway then she runs back and forth and squeals half the day staring at the ceiling - she's weird). But with Seri coming into heat and me not really interested in breeding her right now, I am crating Drifter. I'm keeping his crate in the bedroom to minimize bitch-smell for him. The girls are loose as usual (except I covered the couch, although Seri's pretty clean in heat). Then at night I crate Seri in a folding crate in the living room and leave Drifter loose locked in the bedroom by gate with Kiba. This means that right now for a few weeks, Drifter is basically living in the bedroom in and out of the crate, and Seri is living in the living room, again in and out of a crate. A pain in the ass, but it works. So far Drake is still OK playing with her but I watch him closely. He's coming up on 8 months old soon, so he's just about old enough to "do the deed" if he figured it out. So far I've seen a lot of play-humping before but no "intent". And right now of course any of that sort of behavior gets them gently pulled apart, and if he looks to be getting interested he or Seri will be back in a crate for a bit.

Having 3 intact dogs is kind of a pain when they aren't all the same gender!

08 September 2008

A better set of statistics

It was pointed out to me over the weekend by one of my readers (I still feel weird knowing people are actually reading this), that I seem to be rather good at math. What do you know? I used to HATE math as a kid, didn't mean I was bad at it though. But I rather enjoy employing math to a useful, practical end. Statistics, especially, I find useful and easy to work with. I am also quick to point out the weaknesses in the silly stats often put forth as meaningful on TV, when really they are useless.

Anyway, a week ago I was bitching that Drifter had fallen to exactly 50% Q rate in AKC, at 6/12 in both STD and JWW. Well he was 3/4 this weekend with only that bizarre weave entry miss, NO bars at all came down. So he's up to 8/14 in JWW and 7/14 in Standard, totaling to approximately 54% Q rate overall. He's got 4 double Q's towards Nationals. And I'm excited to think that whether or not we Q for Nationals I can still pack up next spring and actually attend Tryouts. I know the chances of making it would be slim if I didn't do well at Nationals (I'd have to win, impressively) but I would enjoy going once with him for the experience. And he could easily win at least one class, which would make me happy and proud.

I continue to feel slightly sick/allergy-ish. I think I'm running a low-grade fever. I may skip class this week and stay home to rest. Not that I'm capable of skipping dog-practice more than one day, but I'll at least keep it to jump-work that doesn't require lots of running.

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This can't be good.

Sickness and Farewell

I'm getting sick. Hopefully just an allergy thing but who knows. Over the weekend my throat was vaguely raw and I can tell the lymph nodes in my throat are slightly swollen. I took some Zicam and then some cold meds, but today I am a little congested and the throat feeling is still there. Hopefully it will come and go quickly.

Last week one of our coworkers informed us he was leaving to go be a finance guy at a big car dealership nearby. We were only a little sad. But mostly elated. See, this guy, We'll call him Chris (that's his name), he is a very polite, hard-working sort of kid (well, my age). He has a bachelor's degree in something or other. He saved money and bought a condo. He owns his car. But . . . for all that, he just isn't very bright. We would show him how to do something, and he would nod and say "yes" a lot, but then he when he tries to do it. . . nada. Nothing. No clue whatsoever. He didn't learn well at all. He would eventually pick up tasks if he had to do them often enough, but you could never just throw him into something and expect him to pick it up on his own. Wouldn't happen. Now his job title here wasn't exactly manager level, and he actually liked answering phones, so we didn't really mind him sticking around. And as I said, he was a nice guy, he even worked hard in his own way and wanted to help out a lot. But he was one of those guys who you think "well. . . I guess the professors really liked him". Cuz honestly, a research paper written by this guy must have read like a kiddie book. For all that, I would not be surprised to learn that he's really good with numbers, as that does happen, but at learning practical tasks this guy was lacking.

He was also lacking social skills, which made him fodder for many a joke within the office. The greatest and worst part was that he was so clueless you could mock him right to his face and he didn't get it. We weren't sure if that was really horrible or really hilarious, but sometimes we couldn't help ourselves.

So farewell Chris, we'll miss mocking you at least, and we are sad that we have to answer more phone calls now that you're gone!

07 September 2008

What Tropical Storm? Where?

Oddly enough, today's weather was GORGEOUS! High 70's, not a cloud in sight, low humidity. You got a little bit warm if you stood/ran in the sun long enough, but overall you couldn't ask for better weather. If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, I would never have believed that the remnant of a tropical storm blew through yesterday.

Anyway, you're wondering how the dogs did. They did well. Big dogs ran first today, so Drifter was up. Standard - it was a great course, very flowing, low on Trap Factor. The only thing that worried me was there was a send out to a panel, then back to a dogwalk to a soft-side 90-degree weave entry. As I mentioned yesterday, Drifter's USUALLY really good on weave entries, but with a chuck-out over a panel that needed to be supported, then a full out running dogwalk to a push to the weaves, first thing in the morning, I was a little nervous. Even though he's hit every dogwalk since Indy, I still am never quite sure exactly what he'll do. We've had lots of turns off of it lately, so the straight-out running was a bit of a question mark in my mind.

Well obviously it wasn't one in his. He stormed through the course like we'd practiced it before. Nailed it. Won, because he's Drifter and there were only 2 other reasonably fast BC's there, and they are fast but not Drifter-fast, which is an elite category. I got to pull him onto the see-saw at 4 so I was facing straight onto him as he came up, which got me the opportunity to actually keep him on the thing for maybe a full second, which I rarely get from him. Great aframe, great table (for him - only maybe 1 or 2 seconds to go down), left all the bars up, NAILED his dogwalk and nailed his weave entry! Yay!
Kiba also had a great run, I had to growl at her a bit to keep her on the dogwalk long enough for me to manage her weave entry, and she definitely ticked some bars but none fell. She won her class as well, over Judy's two relatives who were 2nd and 3rd.

JWW was a nice flowey course but definitely with more Trap Factor than Standard. Some interesting loops and an odd line down the end. I was pretty confident in my (conservative) handling plan. Drifter did have one wide corner where he was window shopping, dreaming of weave poles, but I called him back in short order and he finished the course very smoothly. Clean. Hurray! 4th double Q! And I realized that's his 7th Standard and 8th JWW, so he's almost qualified for Tryouts. He just needs one more Standard leg, which by itself shouldn't be too tough. I know they wouldn't "choose" a dog who didnt' attend Nationals, but at least we could go and try our hand at winning, or just enjoy ourselves! Yay!
Kiba ran JWW very nicely handling-wise, but for some reason misjudged her angle on 4 and had a late bar there. GRRRR. I *think* she didn't realize we were going to "back" on the ground after the jump, and I *think* she knocked the bar when she realized and changed leads suddenly, but my eyes had moved on because I knew her takeoff point was good and at that point I thought she was going to clear it fine. I wasn't rushing, I wasn't real close to her, and while it was a slightly converging line, it wasn't bad. Still, she seems to need more work on converging lines and sudden lead changes. She's not entered next weekend so I have 2 weeks to do some jumping drills with her.

Next weekend I entered one day of Flexi's USDAA trial. I went ahead and threw Seri in all 4 classes, and put Drifter in 2, his re-debut at 26". It's still a 2008 Tournament (Steeplechase) so I didn't bother with Kiba. She can have a weekend off. I'm a little worried that Seri is going to come into heat though, she's been licking a lot lately. And Drifter isn't helpful since Singe just came out of heat so he is still a little "interested" regardless. In fact he seems more interested in Kiba, even though she's spayed. So who knows.

ETA: I re-checked Seri that night and she is, indeed, in heat. So I had to withdraw her from Flexi and GSD club the weekend following. She won't be showing again until Artful Dodgers.

06 September 2008

TBAC Day 1, Hanna Attacks

TBAC Day 1 today, at the Sports Center which is located barely a mile from DJ's parents' house. Because of the rain they moved the trial off a grass field and onto an astro-turf field (still outside). The morning started out with light showers, and very high humidity that made the 78 degrees feel much worse. As the day wore on it started raining harder and harder, and the 25 mile ride home after which usually takes 40 minutes took me an entire hour.

We ran JWW first, late morning (small dogs were first). It was a nice open flowing course with subtle challenges that made it somewhat difficult. Kiba ran well, but knocked a bar after a front cross. I think she's just not looking for the jumps and judging early enough. Drifter ran JWW very, very well, adding yet another JWW leg to his tally the last few weekends. He won with the fastest time of all heights, moving at 6.4-something YPS.

I stuck around for Standard, hoping against hope for another 2Q. Standard was another fair course, with good flow and challenges that were fair. I wasn't too happy about the dogwalk being out of the weaves with a hard turn to a panel after it. Drifter had some iffy dogwalks this week in training and I actually had to do a little bit of drilling on it. So far his toe's held up okay. Anyway, Kiba knocked 2 bars. And missed her weave entry - off the table. Which was kinda weird. She ran next to them and looked at them and around like "huh?! Where'd the entry go?". I thought, OK, well, she's not always 100% on her entries, and there were lots of weird colored lines all on the turf (they weren't painted either, they were actual colored turf, so they were super-bright and distracting - yellow, white, and red). While the 20's were walking it started really pouring. The heavens opened up and dumped an ocean upon us. It was awful. The wind started kicking up a bit too, knocking a few jumps over. They sandbagged those and they held.
My running pants were totally soaked and sticking to me, and since there was a lull in the rain (it was steady but light for a bit), I changed into the jeans I had left in the car last week after I went to the trial after work. They're not the best to run in, but at least they were dry.
Of course when I got Drifter out it started pouring madly again, but oh well, I was dry for a bit.

Drifter started out well, I was handling a bit like a little old lady because I wanted him to be careful. He left all his bars up, hit all his contacts real solidly, stuck his see-saw (long enough, anyway) and sat relatively quickly on the table. Then. . . he missed the weave entry. EEK! He NEVER does that. It has literally been an ENTIRE year since the last one he missed, and that one was difficult. This was not. He did the same thing Kiba did, ran past it looking at them confusedly like "is this right? Where the hell's the first pole?" He truly looked like he just missed seeing it. GRRR. And that was it, he was clean other than that. He actually braked so hard down the dogwalk that he skidded off the yellow and about 10 feet past on the turf before he turned, but he still kept the panel up after it.

AKC is becoming VERY aggravating for me, even though my handling and my dogs responsiveness is better than ever. It's the little crap. . . it just isn't going away yet!

05 September 2008

Bitching about a Regional

On second look, Bay Team had fewer teams than Keystone, but seemed to have a few more individuals entered in GP and Steeplechase. Very close overall though, with both regionals having approximately 480ish dogs.

Something bothers me about Steeplechase:
Keystone Steeplechase - the first round, which you already had to qualify to enter, had 173 dogs running it. Of those, 84 qualified to go to the 2nd round by the usual 25% rule. That is 48.5%. That is a good fair number. Of those 84 dogs, only 23 ended up with byes into the semifinals. TWENTY-THREE dogs, out of 173 in Steeplechase, at one of the two largest regionals in the country. Does that seem right? Why, you ask? Because the times on the course were SO low that it excluded any dog who didn't run fast and clean, and many dogs had small bobbles. My dog missed her weave entry ONCE and I brought her back and re-entered, so no faults, only time - and she didn't qualify. She was 6th place going in, for speed comparison. WTF?!
By the way, 23/173 is 13%. Only 13% of dogs who entered that steeplechase got a bye into semi's.
Of the 22" dogs, only 7% qualified. There were 86 in round 1, 42 dogs in round 2, and ONLY SIX of them got byes. Fair? I THINK NOT! Why did this happen? Well, the 1st place dog had an exceptionally fast run at 23.74, the 2nd place dog was 24.86, and the 3rd was 25.12
Fair enough, they were all fast. I've been that dog before. Here's my issue - NO Steeplechase course should be run in under 25 seconds. At the Regional in Perry GA only 3 dogs broke the 28-second barrier. I think the average was right around 28seconds. That means that any dog with a score lower than 32.2 would qualify. That leaves 4.2 seconds for minor errors and refusals. It doesn't leave any actual faults, but OK, I can deal with that.
At Keystone the average was 24.57. You had to be under 27.86 to qualify. That's barely 3 seconds. And that's not even only 2.61 slower than the 3rd place dog. So essentially you had no room for error, at all. If we had had 4.2 added to that average the time to Q would have been 28.77, which still isn't a lot - it would have added one more dog.
Anyway, the gist of what I'm saying is that I think 24seconds is WAY too short for a Regional event's steeplechase course. Of course I'd like to have qualified, but really it just doesn't seem right that ONLY SIX 22" dogs got a bye there.

By the way, the other heights fared a little better. This was a course that bit lots of high-speed teams in the ass - again, is that appropriate for steeplechase? It was fast, sure, but perhaps too technical? I personally didn't think it was overly tough, but there certainly were traps, and the weave entry, franky, was impossible for my 3-year old to get anywhere but my backyard.
Here's the other heights:
In 12", there were 10 dogs in the first round, 8 in the 2nd, and 5 qualified - 50%
In 16" there were 26 dogs in the first round, 11 in the 2nd, and 6 qualified - 23%
In 26" there were 47 dogs in the first round, 24 in the 2nd, and 6 qualified - 12.7%
and of course I already mentioned the 22's, at 86, 42, and 6 for a measley 7%

In browsing other regionals, it seems the 22's consistently get shafted in the percentages - because they have the most dogs, but the fastest times. Most of the time I have no problem with this, but boy did Keystone suck. I hadn't really thought about it till today, and of course it had nothing to do with the club, it just didn't turn out to be the right course for a Regional Steeplechase Final. It was awkward and short. I think if the rule is going to stay at 15% of the top 3 times for Regional byes, then we definitely need to get more regulations in place to try to keep the times/distances in a similar range for steeplechases. Think about it - I won the Steeplechase at Nationals last fall on a course that people had trouble breaking 33 seconds on. Now here we have a Regional where a dog hits 23! That's a HUGE difference.

I also noticed that in most 2nd rounds of Grand Prix's there weren't all that many 5-fault qualifiers, so I don't think the new rule for next year is going to affect Regionals much at all.

03 September 2008

Bay Team Regional

Results are up

Turns out even in CA regionals are smaller than here in the Northeast. They had 64 teams in championship, we had 71. Oddly, the California Regional needed some massive amount of rings. We got it all done in 3.
See, and those California people get all Superior about it ;-P
Actually I suspect they offered more Masters classes. We had very few, which is JUST the way I like it. A regional is supposed to be about tournaments, not titles.

I was suprised to see some local names there. That's a looooong way to travel for a Regional!

In case you haven't figured it out yet, I'm not cheering for McCain

You may be surprised to learn that I do follow politics to a certain degree. Much of the time I am angry or laughing at them. . .

Way to deal with the hot-button issues

And VP-candidate Palin hears voices!

I'm not saying the democrats are perfect - they're still politicians - but what can you say to conservatives who think God told them to do it? Uhhhhhhh no thanks!
Please don't elect crazy people!

The Wonk Room.

Personally I don't think I agree with much on the conservative/republican side of things. I am pro-gay marriage, pro-abortion as long as its early-term, pro-getting the hell out of Iraq as soon as viable, and anti-religious, especially anti-creationism-in-schools. I am pro-teaching evolution. So no, you can see I don't like the republican stance on much as far as social issues go. I don't think McCain would be as bad as Dubya has been, really, but I'd rather get somebody in the white house who might actually change a couple things and try to get us out of our giant hole of debt.

02 September 2008

Old pictures

I was digging in the old files on this computer. It used to belong to my dad before I inherited it when he got a new one. These photos are all taken by him (David DeMascio) so please don't copy them if you are a decent human being.


This is Freeze, quite possibly the smartest dog ever. She had tremendous balance and could stand like this for a rather long time. Especially if some ringside spectator had FOOD. Isn't she beautiful?


Freeze had some jumping issues.


Drifter's aframe was lovely even though he was barely 2 years old. Sadly this is the only decent pic I have of it, and I'm making a really goofy face. (yeesh, I was only 22 in this picture! and he wasn't grey yet!)


This isn't a spot-on pic, but just LOOK at the muscle on that dog! Holy crap! And his ears are standing up which is pretty amusing too.

This stat makes me grumpy

AKC. Definitely alternate between love/hate on this one.

Last time I posted about 2 weeks ago, Drifter was qualifying 61% in AKC overall, heavily skewed towards Standard. He was 6/8 in Std and 3/8 in JWW.

Well the last 2 weekends he ran a total of 4 standard courses, qualifying in exactly ZERO of those (of course he SHOULD have Q'd last weekend *seethe*), and qualifying in JWW THREE out of 4 times!
So he's now running at exactly 50% in Standard, 6/12, AND. . . . 50% in JWW, again 6/12.
Seems we run in streaks, he went 6/6 in standard a few weekends in a row, now he's 3/4 the last two weekends in JWW. ARGH! If those had been on the same days we'd have at least 2 more double-Q's by now! Just makes ya want to pull your hair out, huh? The part that gets me is that most of the NQ's in JWW are NOT really my fault as far as handling. It's just a barely-rubbed bar here and there, for the most part. Very few wild off course adventures, very few of anything, really, just A bar. On the upside it looks like my iniative to get better in JWW might have had an effect.

Kiba's stats are probably holding at around 35% but I didn't calculate. She double-Q'ed last weekend at least so I'm not mad at her yet. Drifter hasn't doubled for 3 weekends running, his last one was Aug 3rd at Elkhound, same day that Kiba got her 2nd. At this rate she'll pass him and I'll only be taking HER to AKC Nationals! Ha!

Very uncomplementary today I guess

I sent Stupid Ebay Seller an ultimatum of sorts over the weekend demanding that she call Paypal and either refund my money or accept the payment on her old account, and that she lift my "unpaid item" dispute from my ebay account (remember, it was HER fault she linked the ebay listing to the wrong email address for paypal). So today I went into my ebay account and discovered that lo and behold she said she'd ship the damn books. Finally. I think she's aggravated. Wonder why?

If you sell something on ebay, and ebay is telling you it's paid for but its not showing up in Paypal, don't just sit on your hands for 2 weeks waiting. EMAIL THE BUYER and figure out what happened. I have had to constantly keep emailing this person to get any communication from her at all. No initiative from her, except to put an "unpaid item" status on me, when it wasn't MY fault at all! Grrrrr if you can't figure out the Thinkin' Machine then don't use it!

But I finally get my books (actually, my manga - probably some college kid or something)

I can think of lots of uncomplementary words that start with "Re-"

McCain's running-mate Palin has taken a stand on sex-ed. She believes strongly in pushing abstinence-only education.

Her 17-year old daughter is pregnant.

Duh?

Most research into the subject is quite suggestive that abstinence-only education with raging hormonal teenagers just doesn't work. Logic tends to suggest the same thing. When does telling teenagers not to do anything at all really ever work?

----

Dogs did pretty well on the 2nd sequences. Today I may set up some really tough distances and work pushes and serpentines and converging lines on them - like 14' to 22' to 12' to 18' type distances. With angles. And me running and Converging and dropping my shoulder and wrapping and all the interesting stuff. Don't have CRCD here at work so can't make up sequences now.

01 September 2008

USDAA Nationals Premium!

USDAA Nationals premium is out, and entries are due by SEPTEMBER 20th!!!
I am going to print and send this week. Schedule is similar to last year, except instead of the two "classic" classes we instead have "European" classes judged and presumably designed by one of the two european judges.

My life history in agility dogs

Dreamer: ADCH Windfall'sDaydream, 2-time Grand Prix Finalist
(2/11/92 to 8/01) Competed from fall '93 to spring '01



Rio PD1, my father's house/guard dog for a while.
(12/26/96 - 5/06) Competed fall '98 and spring '99


Freeze: ADCH Sage Hill Most Wanted MX MXJ, LAA-Bronze, 8th overall DAM Team 2001
(3/2/99-present) Retired, compted fall 2000 to spring 2006.


Drifter: ADCH Drifter MX MXJ, 2-time Grand Prix Finalist, Steeplechase Finalist & Champion
(9/25/02-present) Currently my main dog. Started competing spring '04, attended every USDAA Nationals from '04-present, always placing top 10 in at least one class.


Kiba: Lock-eye Kiba MAD TM-Silver AX AXJ
(12/4/04-present) Started competing summer '06 but only did a few trials before spring '07. Got through USDAA Nationals '07 with ZERO eliminations or low-point runs, so a good start.


Seri: Kerales Codi-Seren SG SR
(6/19/06-present) Started competing spring '08, not trialing seriously yet. Still working out the kinks. Loads of potential though!


Drake: Darkfire's Daunltess Pursuit. Born 1/20/08, he is from my very first endeavor into the world of breeding. I am very pleased with him and look forward to his career. He won't be trialing until late fall '09 or early spring '10.

26

Well today's my birthday. I celebrated by waking up at 6:30, eating cereal, and then working through the first 2 sequences in my post from last night. I actually had a few minor issues in them so they were good ones. Kiba kept wanting to go up the DW after the table in the 2nd sequence, and Drifter had some issues with a bar here and there that I got after him for.

Not only is September my birthday, it also marks the 16th anniversary of the formation of Flexible Flyers agility group. My mom helped start the whole thing up, and September '92 was the first classs, which I was in with my flattie. So this marks my 26th birthday, and 16 years in agility. That means I've been doing agility for 61.5% of my lifetime. Scary huh? Is it any wonder I eat breathe and sleep agility? I am training my 7th dog currently, competing with my 4th, 5th, and 6th dogs. Now I'll admit the 2nd dog was kind of a 'drop-out' but I still took the time to train him and learn from the experience.