Tag Archives: Funny

What my horse has taught me

Quick post today! As I am spending so much time with my horse, I thought I’d share some of his wisdom….

  1. Eat dessert first….why not? It just tastes better.
  2. Dig deep to find the good stuff….this would explain why he moves ALL his hay from one corner to all other corners and eats the stuff on the bottom
  3. Be polite…if everyone else is running like an idiot, join in, even if you don’t quite know why or if you really want to
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want…he tries to walk out his open door and see how far he gets before someone puts him back inside
  5. Conserve energy…no unnecessary movements are needed, walk rather than trot, trot rather than canter, stand still when possible
  6. Always present your best side…you never know when furry cuteness will pay off in dessert (see lesson #1)

 

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Best pieces of yoga advice

  1. Your toes are just accessories, you don’t actually need them (balancing, finding your centre, avoiding windmilling your arms when in tree pose)
  2. It’s YOUR practice, do what feels organic (I’m sorry, there is nothing organic about some of these poses (king pigeon pose??), but I take your point – wiggle it if it feels good)
  3. Do not let go of the rope (otherwise things go bump and it hurts)
  4. Look at your nose, not your neighbour (especially if you have neck issues)
  5. Look at your toes, not your neighbour (you can cause temporary paralysis or at the very least, it really hurts)
  6. Wear comfortable, loose clothing, but not too loose cuz you spend a lot of time in downward dog

(and you thought yoga was for wimps!)

Namaste

 


My mom told me to buy a hoUse, not a hoRse.

But I bought a horse anyway, and here’s why.

Winter north of the 49th parallel: that’s the top reason to not own a horse. Have you ever seen a barn at winter (and I’m not talking about those of you who are lucky enough to ride at places like the Hong Kong jockey club). If it isn’t a skating rink (slid my car almost into another car/tractor twice), it’s a mudbath (and not in a skin-cleansing way – remember what the horses left on top of the ice).

Winter north of the 49th parallel: is not a bad reason to own a horse. Owning a horse gets you out of the house. With animals, you can’t tell them to take a raincheck, you don’t feel like it today. They have to be exercised, cleaned, medicated, fed, and all around tended to. Plus, once you put on 7 layers of clothing and start riding, you warm up pretty quick. (in modern times, I have managed to reduce that to 5 layers of clothing using thermal undies.)

Injuries and vet bills: are definitely on the reasons to not own a horse. OMG, have you SEEN what animal medical costs? And this is CHEAPER than for a dog/cat? HOW much was that ONE steroid shot?

Injuries and vet bills: does have some benefits like allowing you to meet a wide range of really nice people. Let’s face it, anyone who chooses to work with animals probably is pretty nice and pretty mellow. You can’t be excited when dealing with a half a ton animal who is still trying to decide if he likes you or not AND has steel shoes. Plus there is the horse’s eye doctor, massage therapist, blacksmith (aka shoe salesman) and x-ray technician for you to meet and pay. And if your horse regularly loses his shoes or pulls muscles or has an undiagnosable illness, you get to know all these people really well.

A horse can think for himself: which is a great thing when you have issues steering a car or bike or judging distance. I have never ridden a horse that crashes into a wall. Nor one that falls over or stops running in the middle of a gallop (yes, my car decided to test my driving skills while I was on a highway).

A horse can think for himself: but you may not always agree with the decision. Like when I ended up behind the saddle (on the horse’s butt) and she decided I really didn’t belong there. The people watching said I flew at least a meter over her in the air. Or when a horse decided at the VERY LAST MINUTE to skid to a dead stop in front of a jump….and I went over anyway. ouch. (look out for good sales on painkillers and muscle relaxants)

Spring, Summer and Fall anywhere: good reason to own a horse. Riding in shortsleeves with the wind in your hair (under a safety helmet, of course) is amazing. It’s the ultimate stress reliever and relaxation and just plain fun! I love riding in the field with Monarch butterflies fluttering around and swallows swooping and diving.

Spring, Summer and Fall anywhere: can test you and your horse. In spring, your horse will go crazy after being cooped up all winter. He starts thinking: “OMG WHAT IS THAT SOUND!? oh, it’s a bird. OMG, WHAT WAS THAT?! It was the tree moving in the wind. I’M SO OUTTA HERE! because I’ve never seen an umbrella before”. Your horse will calm down just in time for the bugs and flies to come out in the Summer and for him to spook and run away from that.

Cuteness: top reason to own any animal.  Yes, my horse is cute. Totally and utterly cute.  When he grows in his winter hair and his main grows long, he looks like a big furry llama (in a good way). Everyone loves him and when he begs for treats, you hear “awwww” all around. I love seeing him at the end of a long day. Just being there gives my spirit a lift.

Cuteness: only goes so far. My horse decided to shed all his winter hair….in December, then re-grow it, then shed it again.  Last year, he decided to keep the last batch he grew until he was sweating just standing there (it was May/June already). When you de-shed your horse (see other post here), you need special implements (a Furminator is flipping $70+!!!! and isn’t even available in this country!) and still the fur goes everywhere. Hint: keep your mouth closed during this process. However, when you clip (shave) your horse, it’s even worse. I didn’t know hair could get in my underwear through 3 layers of clothing.

He loves you: best, best, best reason to be owned by a horse. I’m pretty sure my horse has some feelings resembling affection for me. He does look up when I call his name. He does tentatively take a step in my direction. He certainly has loads of patience when I ride him. Once or twice, I’ve even heard him nicker at me. And he puts up with all my photography attempts.


Christmas E-card

There’s nothing like getting a card or letter in the mail, slicing open the envelope and devouring every word that comes from a faraway place. However, when I have to resort to e-cards, I figure they should either be super pretty, awesome animation or just plain entertaining. Here’s my shot at the entertaining. (and for the record, certain lines in the poem are exaggerated or just plain not true – I had to find something that rhymed with vacation and diarrhea!)

Twas the month before Christmas
And all my shopping was done
All I had left to do
Was send cards to everyone

I made my list
Thought I couldn’t fail
So why did you only get
This lousy email?

It could have been the mice
Who ate all my paper
Or the burglar
Who stabbed me with a saber

Or perhaps it was my horse
Who had diarrhea
Or maybe my work
That shipped me off to Korea

But what about my pens
That all ran out of ink
Or even my laundry
That turned out all pink

There was the sunburn
That laid me up while on vacation
Or the time I lost
Putting down an alien invasion

But never fear
Despite this silly verse
I hope you get all good things
Not just a couple links of bratwurst

My wish for you this Christmas season
Is: love and warm feelings
A lovely something under the tree
And choirs of angels singing

(not real angels, just metaphorical ones, because if they were real, you’d be dead and I don’t want that)

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year


How to enjoy a holiday in Hawaii

pfft! You’ve got to be kidding, right? Why would ANYONE need a blog post on this topic??

Instructions:

  • arrive in Hawaii
  • enjoy

Ok, so a couple caveats:

  • don’t sweat the tsunami, but do follow the evacuation instructions
  • there are no sea snakes in Hawaii, but the snake eel you just saw still has teeth
  • take both sunscreen and after-sun care (preferably aloe with lidocaine)
  • 11 foot wingspan manta rays don’t have teeth, but are really, really big
  • the volcano looks pretty until it erupts (learn how to read the seismograph)

Yes, my vacation had it all!!!  I’m still sorting through the photos, but will start posting really, really, really soon (as soon as the sunburn cools down – ow!)
Ok, ok, one photo to tease you:


Mother Nature Packs a Punch

And I’m not talking about the windstorm that nearly destroyed my car and would have killed me if it had been 1 inch closer. No, this is the subtler-sneak-up-on-you kind. You go along in life and once in awhile stop and smell the roses or admire the way everything’s green in the spring or crisp and white in the winter. And then you turn a corner (literally) and get a shock. There I was, riding my horse, slipping down this slope behind the barn that leads to a little valley with a stream running through it (sounds really picturesque, right?). As Larry (the horse) and I start down the slope, there are two fat blue jays flitting just ahead of us from tree to tree like an honour guard to escort us. Near the bottom, we pull clear of the trees that line the path and we can see out to the valley and an absolutely gorgeous white tail deer some into view about 30 feet away bounding just to our left and a bit ahead. Well, you can’t get more pristine nature than this. This is truly a wake up and smell the granola scene while wearing your birkenstock sandals and your organic cotton pjs. But what was going through MY head as Larry came to a dead stop on the rocky slope and his head went up and ears went forward was “please, please, please don’t drop your shoulder, whirl, and through me on the ground, cuz that’s going to hurt!” – seriously, a lot can go through a girl’s head in moments like these. Thankfully, my horse is old enough that he thinks antics like those take far too much energy these days. He actually listened to me to move forward (towards the scary-horse-eating deer) off the rocks onto the grass. To the non-riders out there, this doesn’t mean that Larry wasn’t still thinking about bolting back to the barn, but at least if I fell off, the grass would hurt less (theoretically). I will give Larry some credit in that the deer was very large (the biggest I’ve seen on the property) and very loud (I never knew deer make a coughing sound reminiscent of old Chinese guys just as they clear their throats ready to expel …. well, never mind, mucus is involved in that story) and could very well have taken my poor horse in a fight. What was the point of this post again? oh yeah, that while we weekend warriors think ourselves fairly close to nature, every once in awhile, it sends something our way that slaps you upside the head and says “pay attention!”  I hope I never miss those moments.


Adventures in Climate Change: Go where the Gas is

It is true that I got the privilege of seeing the world when I worked with climate change emission reduction projects (see posts here, here and here), but most of this work was done at landfills. It wasn’t all exotic locations where a bunch of professionals, grassroots organisations and public servants got together for a jolly (read: conferences), but rather, it was exotic locations where hard-working people got together to hold their breaths.

The idea behind the carbon markets is that you have to stop the invisible greenhouse gases from escaping. So, first you find the gas and then you plug it, burn it, bury it – whatever works. That’s what led me to landfills. To be clear, we’re talking about the big pit where all of human’s garbage gets dumped. Where the seagulls go to party. And because that stuff includes food scraps, Aunt Jane’s dead petunias, little Jimmy’s essay on paper, used tea bags, etc – it generates gas! So the first part of the job is solved.

Part of my job was to go see these sites and nod wisely as if it was a premium landfill! An excellent landfill! With just the right mix of organic and wet material to generate maximum gas (which could then be captured or burnt). Do you know how hard it is to nod wisely when walking by decomposing animals? (By the way, you actually don’t want large animals in the landfill because they decompose too quickly and then leave nothing behind to generate more gas – fyi) The problem is that as you walk up hill (landfills are wide and tall), you exert yourself, causing you to breathe more heavily, meaning you smell worse things, causing you to walk uphill faster, causing you to breathe more heavily….you see where I’m goin’ with this?

I know waste management has come a long way and landfill technology is very advanced and the reclamation techniques do wonders for land regeneration. But whoever thought that having an agave plantation within spitting distance from the landfill wasn’t thinking about his marketing. “Liquor do rubbish” anyone? And the cafeteria should really be sited upwind from the main operations. Of course, once the land is reclaimed, it’s usually beautiful. One landfill had their own forestry nursery for baby trees (so cute) and another had a collection of native plant species they were planning to use after (why can’t I find a job where I get to see the pretty things??) and the management was justifiably proud of these efforts.

So, anyway, now that you’ve found the gas, you need to plug is or burn it and once that’s done, I get to visit again to make sure all the documentation is in place. That part of the job isn’t bad really. It’s an audit, but rather than an audit that tries to find what’s wrong in order to fix it, it’s an audit to prove something went right and you get paid. So, most people liked to see me. However, I really wish they wouldn’t keep things from me even though I’m usually the only girl on the team and they all seem to think I’m delicate (ha, ask my friends about that one!). If a decapitated head is found in the landfill, I’d really like to know about it; if terrorists generally keep an eye on public gatherings like our info sessions this is also a good thing to know; and if rabid dogs are running loose a warning is entirely appropriate. I consider these things along the same lines of information need-to-know as knowing to bring a chocolate cake when asking a government official for a signature because it is her birthday. Because our projects are always based in emerging markets, these types of quirks were often part of the landscape.

However, as I mentioned in another post, the climate change industry is a tricky one because the premise is the absence of something (like the dieting industry) that you can’t see in the first place. So, if what we’re trying to do is contain or destroy these gases, wouldn’t it make more sense to not generate them in the first place?

 


Tips from a wedding attendee

Chocolate fountains and pasta with red sauce only go so far. Both are great in theory, but not together and both place unnecessary stress on your guests freeloaders friends. I’ve been to a few weddings in my time (this advice goes for funerals and baby parties too), so I’ve built up a number of helpful observations. While everyone’s eyes light up at the flowing chocolate, the reality is that chocolate is damn hard to get out of party clothes. And those gi-normous, gorgeous looking strawberries that you dip in the fountain? Do you know anyone who can eat them without getting chocolate on their face and still look dignified?

Tip #1 The buffet stations (not the long table where everyone has to line up) is great. It lets the vegetarians pick out their stuff and the guests can wander around to their hearts content.  Sub-tip 1b – don’t put the vegetables in the middle of the meat dishes cuz then you get a whole bunch of vegetarians/pescatarians/vegans fighting the omnivores to get the last asparagus stalk and hey, they’re missing all the delicious steaks already, don’t frustrate them any more!  Guest-tip 1c – if you pick up some of the grilled zucchini for your vege-friends, don’t let it touch the chicken.

Tip #2 Long noodles are yummy, but they splash. I’m a super fan of all types of noodles, but I avoid them like the plague at business meals, job interviews – basically anywhere I’m not wearing jeans and a t-shirt. And, if it is Alfredo sauce, it has to be a white T-shirt and if it’s red sauce, it has to be a black t-shirt.  Just think of all the lovely white shirts and suit jackets and pretty dresses….oh, this rule can be thrown out if your guests are wearing clothes with a busy pattern in strong colours – the splashes will just blend in. Guest-tip 2b – if you get oil stains on your clothes that won’t come out – put some baby powder on them, let them sit for a few days, brush off the powder and wash again. The powder soaks up the oil. However, just as a side note to wedding planners and brides the long noodles do provide entertainment for the other guests 🙂

Tip #3 Your guests will entertain themselves so use decorations that you aren’t worried about getting back and that are easy to take apart. The latter is so that your guests won’t hurt themselves when they start poking at things and so that they can get creative with things and keep out of trouble while you’re making the rounds of the tables or they are waiting to be called up for the buffet.

Tip #4 Be the best sport on the day. Things will go wrong. Things won’t happen on time. Things will get spilt and broken and who cares? You’re married, the money is already spent and you have dozens of witnesses! If you enjoy yourself, your guests will too!

Some examples:

This is what you see just before it goes wild – only calm on the surface:

That sparkly collar used to be on the chair coverings – luckily it was only velcro holding it on

But all is good if the Bride participates

Until the dancing starts (don’t worry! They were just doing an x-rated kissing demo!)


Travel: Safari

Lions, tigers, and bears, oh my! Sorry, not Dorothy here. But I did see lions when I went on safari in Tanzania (see first post on large kittens here). I can’t believe I haven’t posted a blog on this yet, although a bunch of my travel tips made it into my other posts. Getting to the safari was an adventure in itself. My friends were supposed to come with me, but due to one thing and another, neither of them (2 other girls) could make it, but my tickets were booked and off I went. Since I was travelling alone, I figured that it would be safer to fly from Dar es Salaam to Arusha, the starting point for most of the safaris, rather than taking the umpteen hours bus which could be hijacked, breakdown, and I don’t even want to comtemplate the state of the washrooms after that long.

So, off I went to the airport to wait for my flight…and wait…and wait – yup, delayed flight! ok, no prob – call the safari tour people to tell them I’d be late and get on the plane when it came. The flight path goes a little over the ocean as it swings towards Kilimanjaro…because the Arusha airport was closed (I remember this like it was yesterday). And that was the point that smoke started to fill the cabin and the pilot announced we would have to turn around and land (the bus is looking better all the time, huh?). Ok, so wait for the NEXT flight (I know, at this point, most people would have taken the bus!)…which was a government plane and was fine.

Finally, I get to Arusha and meet my safari guide….who tells me there that the group I was supposed to join left and I would have to wait for the next one – no problem – it was coming in the next day – and another person would be waiting too. But I would have to stay overnight, meet the other person and leave the next morning…..and, please don’t go out in Arusha at night alone. The hotel was fine except for the fact that my room fan wasn’t working and I was on the ground floor and door to the outside balcony didn’t really close….but that’s what cellphones are for, right?

The safari company really did take care of me though – the agent made sure I had all the right equipment (sleeping bag), enough cash (since I hadn’t planned on staying the night), came and checked on me that evening (and told me the other person didn’t make it in so it would just be me going) and had dinner with me so things were looking up.

The next morning, I had to take a car out to a meeting point to meet the group because they were coming from another direction. Spent an interesting half hour waiting at an impromptu roadside market at the crossroads between the road to the Serengeti, Arusha and another park. FINALLY met the other group – a couple of friends from Belgium (girl and boy) who would be my safari companions for the next 3 days.

phew!!!  and we hadn’t even reached the park yet!!! This is where I learned Travel tip #33 How to Enjoy African Time!

Here’s a couple of photos of driving into the Serengeti – I began to suspect that it would be worth it from these views.

[Both photos taken with colour slide film. Travel tip #36: When travelling on safari, expect dust, lots and lots of dust. Travel tip #37: Clean your camera lens often. Travel tip #38: Learn how to use Photoshop clone tool]

 


Lonely? Want to meet people? Work in Climate Change (Adventures – 2)

Raise your hand if you know what a climate change-r does? Is that a word? My friend, when asked what he did, used to say “I save the world, and you?” – mostly because it is easier to describe what an astrophysicist does than a climate change-person. I don’t think he says that anymore, because we’re not certain that what we did saved the world. It tried to, but the results are inconclusive.

One aspect of joining this indescrible field was meeting people. When I started, it was all on the job learning. My boss was a political scientist, my senior colleague was a biologist, and I hired an environmental scientist. The centre of the carbon markets was London at that time (we’ve since learned that the world is round) and a more rabid cosmopolitan city there never was. When I moved there to a tiny little firm, the office was filled with investment people, shark-tagging biologist, a former bar owner, traders, linguists, musicians and a lawyer. Tell me you couldn’t have fun at work with that mix!

If we weren’t discussing the latest art exhibit, we were trading travel tips or flying remote control helicopters around the room. There was lively discussion about living in London and real estate, of course. Our offsite meetings were hilarious – setting up the guys for a wax job at the spa or stealing each other’s cars or jumping into the freezing Celtic sea in underwear or trying to take compromising photos.

But they were all smart and well-travelled. If you only knew 2 languages, you were backwards (I know 1+0.75+0.10+0.05). Mostly, we all learned on the job and made things up as we went along – some worked and some didn’t, but I learned from each one. It was one of the most dynamic places I’ve ever worked. Maybe because of all our backgrounds, we approached working in a team from a more open, accepting point of view. We knew each of us was different so we made allowances and learned to deal. May you find as dynamic a work place as I did.