Thursday, September 25, 2008

Who knew?

I've noticed that horseback riding is an Olympic sport. I've realized that people devote decades of training to improving their skill at riding. However, knowing that, I still didn't think horseback riding was all that hard. I'm not amazing at very many things, I consider myself more of a jack-of-all trades, but the one thing I was always confident in was my ability to ride a horse. I've always been told I "have a good seat," and I can get most horses to happily do what I want when those same horses argue and fight with most riders. I've trained horses, and did a pretty awesome job.

This class I'm taking, Animal Science 268, Advanced Balanced Seat is, no doubt, kicking my ass. Riding in this class is not just sitting in the saddle and pointing the horse's head in the right direction. It's moving both legs and arms constantly. Squeezing and releasing with lower heels, keeping your inside leg at the girth and the outside leg behind, pressing and releasing as a specific hoof lifts off the ground. It's ten different ways of holding and moving your seat and each rein and leg and a thousand different combinations, and each one means something different to the horse. It's constantly moving with the horse, keeping him moving actively, even when he wants to move about a half a mile an hour for 75 minutes straight.

We ride twice a week and have a class lecture once a week. Some of my notes below.


Fall Management/Impact Force

momentum = velocity x mass

force = feet/seconds squared

Crash Management Strategies

The strongest tool is maximizing duration of impact. If you double the duration you quarter the force. So. Do that. Make the duration of impact last longer as you're falling off a horse. Don't be thinking what I usually do, "Crap! Crap! Oh, this is going to hurt! Ohhhh. It DID hurt."


How to get a horse to take longer steps? You need to tap the horse on the barrel, back from the girth. This activates the perniculous reflex. The perniculous reflex causes a horse to kick at his belly (in nature this happens when there is a bug on his belly), but in this case when your heel taps that area.


How do you get the horse, "on the bit?" (Traveling with his head perpendicular to the ground, exactly 90 degrees, although his head carriage is not totally the issue here.) Do you tighten up on the bit to pull his nose down?

Leg at girth = horse steps further up under the belly = increases carrying by pushing with the hindquarters = horse lifts and rounds back (rider has an active seat which facilitates this) = horse extends bit (reaches for the bit) = Creates more contact = Leg connection = Horse on the bit.


What four things determine a horse's value?

1 Training
2 Phenotype
3 Genotype
4 Personality


Interesting huh? Maybe not. But it is to me.

I guess this takes some sort of skill.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Home Re-model

I moved back into my apartment a few weeks ago and wanted to spruce it up. It is unfurnished and the four of us roommates are either college students or constantly spending money on vet bills, so we don't have a lot of money to spend on interior decorating. However, I came into a nice couch, kitchen table and a few other things that I love. (How I came into them is a different story, but it was loads of hard work and I moved more than 6,000 pounds of garbage or other materials within the course of a weekend. I know exact weights. That's neither a guess nor exaggeration) I mentioned to the roommates we should move all the animal stuff out of the living room (dog kennel, cat litter box, etc) and make the living area a nice place where we can have people come over and stuff. They had already been thinking about it, and I seconded the idea.

I was going to take before and after pictures, but my roommates are too cool and cleaned the whole house for me when I moved back in and transfered all the pet stuff out of the living room to make room for the couch and stuff. Here is the living room, complete with my pictures and flower print and Ryan's original painting. I like the chair with the orange ottoman, I don't know why.

The kitchen table with photos of all our pets. Including Ryan's pet spider that lives on his rear view window.

The back entrance, where all the pet stuff got relegated, including dog toy box, dirty couches and cat den.

I love my apartment. Good thing that the owner is now selling it. Apparently he put an uber high price on it, so it's unlikely it will sell, but, boy, I am going to be one sad college student if it does and I have to find a new place and move all my stuff.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Rodeo Events. The Good, Bad and "What the hell are they thinking?"

The River Falls Rodeo was a few days ago and my roommate, Ryan, and I went to it, excited to see some action and pick up some cute cowboys. (That might have just been me. I didn't specifically ask though.)

We arrived and immediately I was put off by the (I try to keep my swearing to a minimum so when I say the following statement, you know I mean it.) douchbag announcer. First of all, as we walk in, said DB announcer is extolling the virtues of being American. My favorite part was when he said, and I quote, as it is branded in my memory, "And if you don't agree with everything we, the best country in the world, do, then..." And here he trailed off and Toby Keith's classy country song started with the lyrics, "We'll put a boot in your ass." At this point we were forever enemies. Did he think we lived in some sort of dictatorship? Then to top it all off, at my public, secular, University, he proceeded to say a prayer. By then I was steaming.

As the rodeo continued on my mood fluctuated. It ran really smoothly and professionally. They had great rough stock and they transitioned from event to event quickly and smoothly. I could have done without the lame jokes from the announcer. His follow-up to his jokes that bombed (about 80% of them) was always, "You'll get that tomorrow darlin'."

However, there are a few sports I think Rodeo needs to get rid of. The first one is calf roping. This really hurts the calf and no cowboy on any working ranch would ever do this. Most events, with the noticeable exception of bull riding, are supposed to be things that cowboys actually do. Stay on a bucking horse, cut a cow from the herd, rope a full-grown steer etc.

Number two sounds like kind of a turn in the opposite direction. But I don't know why they ever invented the sport of breakaway roping. This is calf roping but the rope "breaks away" as soon as the calf is roped. Sounds a lot more humane, and it is. However, this sport was created just for girls. Girls apparently can't handle the men's sport, so they made up a watered-down, patronizing, wimpy sport to keep the girls happy didn't win the rodeo princess crown and couldn't barrel race.

The last sport is easily the stupidest "sport" in the history of the universe. And I include in that line-up, speed walking, curling, bull-baiting, competitive eating and rhythmic gymnastics. It is called "goat tie-down." What happens is they stake a goat to the ground. A cowgirl gallops toward it at full speed, jumps off her horse and ties three of the legs together. Are you kidding me? I can't think of any more patronizing, condescending, "sport." The girls apparently wanted to tie up an animal, just like the boys do in calf roping, which they don't get to do in breakaway, but they can't put the two sports together, because that would be too hard, and they have to get a seven pound goat and TIE HIM TO THE GROUND! It literally made me purple in the face. There were so many girls (more than a dozen) demeaning themselves by participating in it.

So, that's the River Falls Rodeo. After parties were pretty fun though. So were the parties after the party.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Favorite Diet Foods

These are some really good diet foods I hope I never get sick of.

-Pickles. (5 calories per pickle)

-Cottage cheese with fruit or a little seasoned salt.

-Yogurt with some sort of healthy crunchy cereal on top. (The cereal is much cheaper than granola)

-Tuna Wrap. (Don't mix any mayo with the tuna, but chop up a pickle pretty fine and sprinkle some lemon pepper and a little cheddar cheese, and a big leaf of lettuce.)

-Tomato and Bread. (Slice some French bread about an inch thick, then spread a dollop of low-cal Italian dressing on each slice. Place a thinly sliced tomato on top of each one and put them under the broiler until the tomatoes look half-way cooked. Then pull them out and cover with either fresh shredded Parmesan or sharp cheddar cheese and cook till the cheese is melted.)

-Cheese Tortilla. (Put a plain tortilla in the toaster oven until the edges start to crisp a little. Then sprinkle a small amount (1/8 of a cup maybe?) of shredded Asiago cheese on it and some Garlic Herb seasoning. Put back in the toaster oven until the cheese is melted.)

-Ginger and Lime Fish. (Mix together ginger, garlic, lime juice, a little butter and some pepper. Broil the fish on each side for five minutes, then spread the mixture on one side of the fish and broil for two or three more minutes. Don't let the effing cat jump up on the counter and start licking your fish while you get a glass of water.)

-Kimchi and Rice.

-Fresh fruit like grapes and apples. (They win on the easy factor)

-Veggie mix. (Cut up onions, green, red and orange peppers, and carrots. Spray a pan lightly with Pam and put the carrots in first, as they need a little longer to cook. After they have cooked a little, add the peppers. Then add the onions and some frozen peas. If you add lemon pepper or garlic, this is a good side dish to the fish or other main course.)

-Diet Code Red Mountain Dew. (yea caffeine!) Diet Sprite (Yea late night sugar attack!)

-Coffee (Yea fair trade medium blend! Yea Splenda and skim milk!)

I think the biggest thing I have started trying to do with my diet (besides run every day. ugh. Unless I start loving it soon, it will only last until the snow flies or I hit the weight I want. I need to find a workout partner to play a fun sport with me instead.) Anyhow, I have started trying to really love food. I don't eat food unless it is totally delicious. (i.e. no more soggy sandwiches or cheap canned soups.) I eat fresh, ripe fruits and veggies. I avoid canned food most of the time, and I have fallen in love with seasonings and spices. You can make a lame tuna sandwich on white bread with limp lettuce, or you can make a delicious low-calorie tuna wrap by adding lemon pepper and heating it in the toaster oven, then adding a crisp lettuce leaf. And then you can enjoy it and focus on eating it rather than studying while you eat. Another thing I've gotten better at is portion control. I don't need a full plate to feel full. I need small portions of a variety of foods, and I will feel full if I eat half as much as I usually do. And the last thing is patience. I know that in four hours Dairy Queen will still have their Moo-Latte drink, so if I am super craving one now, I say I'll get one later. And by the time later has rolled around, I don't need it anymore.

Yea Food!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


I have really been enjoying my classes this semester. I love learning about syntax and grammar and cultures and teaching methods, so this TESOL teaching career is fitting better and better. I wanted to add a few portions from textbook that I thought were fascinating.

Patterns in the Mind by Ray Jackendoff. Page 23

"There is an alteration called, "expletive infixation" that many speakers perform on words of English under conditions of extreme exasperation, as in (2)

(2) How many times do I have to tell you? I'm not talking about the Allegheny River! Can't you get it into your head I'm talking about the Susque-goddamn-hanna?


The interesting thing thing is that we have pretty clear intuitions about how to use this infix. It sound natural in the examples in (3) but decidedly odd in those in (4).

(3) uni-goddamn-versity

(4) Jacken-bloddy-doff


I'm fairly certain none of us was ever taught the principal (or pattern) that says where it is possible to insert an expletive infix into English words. Yet we readily use this principal to make intuitive judgments about new cases....the infix sounds right only when it immedietly precedes the syllyble of the word with the main stress."

I love that my textbook helps me teach English students when to correctly put swear words in words!

Topics in Language and Culture for Teachers by Steven Brown and Jodi Eisterhold. Page 40

"Amok (which has been taken into English in the term to run amok) is a Malaysian condition characterized by a sudden uncontrollable anger; people with this condition have been known to kill whomever they see in a bout of rage."

Interesting. This portion of the book talked about how emotions are social as well as physiological. The DSMMD recognized "culture-bound syndromes." It says that certain cultures have certain dysfunctional disorders based not on genes or anything other than their culture. Crazy, huh?

Language and Culture by Claire Kramsch. Page 92.

"...let us start with the concept ARGUMENT and the conceptual metaphor ARGUMENT IS WAR. This metaphor is reflected in our everyday language by a variety of expressions:

Your claims are indefensible.
He attacked every weak point in my argument.
His criticisms were right on target.
I demolished his argument.
I've never won an argument with him.
You disagree? Ok, shoot!
If you use that strategy, he'll wipe you out.
He shot down all my arguments.

It is important to see that we don't just talk about arguments in terms of war. We can actually win or lose arguments. We see the person we are arguing with as an opponent. We attack their positions and we defend our own...Though there is no physical battle, but there is a verbal structures the actions we are performing.
Try to imagine a culture were arguments are not viewed in terms of war, where no one wins or loses, where there is no sense of attacking or defending, gaining or losing ground. Imagine a culture where an argument is viewed as a dance, the participants are seen as performers, and the goal is to perform in a balanced and aesthetically pleasing way. In such a culture, people would view arguments differently, experience them differently, carry them out differently, and talk about them differently."

I love this fictitious culture. I want to live there.

Sunday, September 07, 2008


Eating is such a funny thing. Everyone knows that. I mean when we think about things that are important to us, we list things like friends, family, hobbies, pets, knowledge, etc, etc. But food and its consequences (i.e. body size) take up an enormous portion of our thought, especially girls, of course. I've always been a pretty confident girl. I get out and do things, and while I've never been super fit, I'm not an embarrassment to myself. (Unless I have to walk up two flights of stairs and then I can usually hide it pretty well by pretending to get a drink of water from the fountain rather than wheezing and huffing too audibly.) I've always thought I was a pretty girl, above average anyhow, but there's always been that one thing missing. That 10% of my body I didn't like, those 10-20 pounds I wished I was lighter, but never did anything about because, let's face it, I loved dessert and sitting on my butt more than I loved the idea of having a perfect body. (And what was perfect anyhow? Some ideal that the magazine moguls would have us believe? Some fake, unusually skinny girl that any normal man wouldn't want to be with anyhow? Some, some....insert other indignant rhetoric here)

I don't know what it was that changed a few weeks ago. Maybe it was the sense of empowerment I got from my summer job (it didn't kill me, so now I'm stronger for it). Maybe it was my frustration with various things in my life feeling out of control and I felt like I needed to have some sort of control over something...hmmmm insert weight control. Maybe I'm getting older and I've never gone this long before without a boyfriend. Maybe I finally heard enough men saying that so and so was so hot and then I looked at her and realized she always weighs 30 pounds less than me. Maybe I lost my idealism and realized that looks are important to me, and they are no doubt going to be important to other people too...who the hell knows? Being a psych minor in college just makes the list grow without offering any hope of a correct answer. (Minor, not major.) Anyhow, I went out and bought a cheap scale and made up a chart listing every day and my weight including a box to check if I had exercised and stretched that day. (I also want to be more fit and flexible, but weight comes first.) I finally wanted to be able to sit down without wanting a pillow to hold over my stomach to hide the roll at my waist. I wanted to wear a swimsuit without being disgusted by my thighs. I wanted to see photos of myself without groaning about my double chin and fat face. I wanted to be hot.

Now, as I say all these things, it sounds like I'm really insecure. I'm not, and I haven't ever really been. I have always liked how I looked and not only have I liked my body 95% of the time, I have always liked 95% of my body. It's just that now I'm prepared to like 100%.

Ok, so the diet started, and I didn't do too much different. I drank a lot of water. I ate less at mealtimes, didn't snack and didn't eat dessert unless my University was stupid and tried to make me believe for a few hours that I wouldn't receive credit for an entire semester of schooling, but that's another story. I realized that although I have always gone to food when I was bored or sad, or even just out of habit, (wake up-eat. Go out with friends-eat. Come home-look in the fridge...and you guessed it, eat) I could break that habit pretty easily. I learned that I had the willpower to eat only when I was hungry, and even then, I learned hunger isn't so bad. It often goes away after forty minutes or so, and then you don't feel hungry again for hours.

I lost four pounds the first week, and I lost five pounds the second week. It felt good, and it feels good. After only two weeks I already had to punch a new hole in my belt. I went shopping the other day and had gone down two sizes in clothes. I know I can keep this up too. I usually wouldn't buy a dress I couldn't wear, but I bought one that was slightly too small, knowing I would fit into it in a few weeks.

I probably eat 500 calories and a multi-vitamin a day. I eat healthy...for 500 calories (fish, cottage cheese, pickles, fruit). I'll admit that sounds pretty low.

One thing that scares me is that what happens when I hit 135? What if there is still some portion of my body I don't like? What if, after all this time, I just don't look good in a swimsuit, and it has nothing to do with how much I weight? I won't have a scapegoat anymore. Will I think that "losing five more pounds" will fix it?

I realize now how easy it would be to get a eating problem. I love watching the weight drop off. I look forward to weighing myself every day, and if the weight hasn't gone down, then the next day I eat even less till the weight does go down. I have such control over something I have battled with since I was 17. My initial goal was to weigh 135, and I found myself thinking today, I could hit 120, or even less, no problem. I had such headaches and hunger pains when I went to bed the other night that I couldn't sleep. But I didn't want to eat because now the scale has become more important than pain. I started out wanting to lose about a pound a week. Now if I were to have "only" lost a pound come Thursday, I would starve myself till I at least three or four pounds dropped for weigh in on Monday.

Is this a problem? It sure sounds like one. But I still feel like it isn't. I am going to stick to my initial goal of 135, not a pound below. I just want to get there faster. I now know that I am stronger than my hunger, and so I know I'm going to hit 135. I just want to hit it now. Since I weigh 153 right three pounds a week, it would only take me around two months to get there. I could be the weight I've always wanted to be by Thanksgiving...or even by Halloween. Isn't that crazy? I've always been the type of person who goes out and gets what she wants. I wanted a horse. I got one. I wanted to live abroad. I lived in S. Korea and Ecuador. I want a degree, I want an apartment that lets me have dogs, I want a cool summer job, I want, I want, I want. However, this has been the one thing I have wanted for the longest time, and I am finally going to get it.

I suppose that's why I'm writing about it. I usually wouldn't write such personal things on my blog. I wouldn't open myself up to such criticism. But isn't it crazy that I am finally going to get what I have wanted for almost a decade?