Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Barbaro

I read this morning that they've finally had to euthanize Barbaro and it made me quite sad. It's the one aspect of the equine world I've never liked. You breed a horse and when it's still a baby, you run it and if it breaks, you kill it. On the surface, it seems so cold hearted, yet now that I've been immersed in this world for almost four years, I know for a fact that this is not the case. I know that each horse out there is surrounded by many people who adore him, who wake up early, say hello, exercise him, feed him, shoe him, clean him, care for him. So why do they still make horses run on hard dirt in this country? They've switched to much better compounds all over the world, yet we're still breaking horses left and right, horses we apparently care for.

One thing I read in all the articles was how brave Barbaro was during his career and throughout his ordeal. Before I really got to know horses, I always figured people were too busy anthropomorphising their horses to notice that a horse really only had three modes: sleeping, eating, or running. Now I know better. They're social animals, just like us, and therefore, share most of our basic emotional language as well. And one emotion stands out the most: fear. Horses were born to run away from things, so I truly believe them when they say a horse is brave, and that it is no small compliment.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Brrrrrr

Okay, it's really cold right now. And it was the day before and the day before that. The frost has killed the flowers I was so proud to have planted and kept alive (for once) and frozen my windshield washer fluid. Yes, like any normal Californian, I'm pretty sure I had just plain old water in there. I did learn one interesting thing though. My room is difficult to heat because it shares 3 walls with the outdoors and half of one wall is a glass patio door. All that I have to keep me warm is a less than effectual baseboard heater and for the longest time, I'd always wake up freezing. Then it occurred to me that it wasn't the lack of heating that was freezing me; it was the fact that the thermostat is conveniently located 5' off the ground, 3' above me when I'm in bed. The baseboard heater doesn't generate enough airflow so by the time morning rolls around, there's a bubble of warm air 5' off the ground and the rest below that (including me) is freezing. So now I just leave a fan on in the room and I'm all warm and cozy.

Besides the being constantly cold thing, I've also been a bit "on-tilt" lately. I've traced the cause to two specific things: 1) lack of exercise 2) uncertainty in the horse dept. As most of my closer friends know, riding is the foundation of my sanity, especially when work, girls, or life in general is trying to kill me, so any perturbation there has ill effects.

I've basically come to an impasse in my riding. I haven't made any measurable improvements in the last year, so something has got to change. First thing is to start riding more often which will take some life priority changes (riding take an inordinate amount of time). Then I have to decide if I want to keep riding my current horse, Reco, or if I want to switch and lease another horse. This other horse would likely be Puck (real name: A Midsummer Night's Dream. get it? get it?) who is this tiny little five year old Morgan who was raised like a puppy and therefore behaves like one. He will honestly try and sit in your lap if you let him and he enjoys nibbling and licking people all over. He's oh so very cute.

The funny thing is, since I've considered switching horses, Reco has been extra friendly to me. It's as if he knew and was trying to win my love. One day I visited him and he spent the next 20 minutes making a fuss of me, nuzzling me all over and trying to swallow my shoe. Last week, we turned him out and he seemed so happy to be playing with me and following me all around.

Anyways, hopefully I'll know the way soon enough.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

It's time for the flashback episode

You know how when TV shows run out of budget or stories for a season, they'll smack together an episode composed almost entirely of flashbacks which basically amounts to watching a really boring clipshow? Well, I'm going to steal the idea and use it on my blog. I've been meaning to port all my old posts (think vintage 2003) over here, so I'll use this opportunity as an exuse to take a walk down memory lane by posting them in batches. It's interesting to see where I was in life three, four years ago and also the change in my writing style. I think engineering has really pounded any eloquence I ever had into oblivion. No matter.

I've just finished copying and pasting all the 2003 entries. The dates are accurate (the times are not). I hope you enjoy the old posts. The 2004 series will be coming soon...

Happy New Years!

Happy 2007! Normally I dislike doing the whole New Year's resolution thing because I feel like I should always be trying to better myself regardless the time of year. In fact, last year was the first year I ever made a New Year's resolution. I changed my mind because I figured it wasn't a bad idea to have an annual meeting with myself and realign my goals, priorities, and rally some motivation to shake myself out of complacency. The only caveat I give myself is that I'm only allowed to make resolutions I intend to and know I'm capable of keeping, just like how I only make promises that I can and will keep.

Last year the resolutions were simple: 1) Get a girlfriend, 2) Eat out more with my friends.
Unfortunately, #1 was ultimately unsuccessful and more offputting than anything. #2 was fun and now I know a few more nice places to go eat and hang out.

This year, I'm leaving things more open-ended and long-term, mostly because I have too much for one year and being at a sort of cross-roads in my life in all aspects, I'm not exactly sure what my situation will be in a year. Here's the list:
-- Go travelling. I maxed out on vacation days this year (7 weeks) and had to keep selling them back because I didn't go on a single vacation. I'm in my mid-late 20's and am unattached. The next time I'll be this free is when I'm retired. Places I want to go include: southern France/Spain and Monaco for the Formula One Grand Prix, Ireland to ride horses, South America, and Taiwan. I already have a trip scheduled for Hawaii this April.
-- Cook. NVIDIA has been serving me lunch and dinner ever since I graduated almost five years ago and thus I've been able to dodge what most would consider a necessary life skill. I've decided it's time to finally bit the bullet because I'm horribly sick of cafeteria dinner and because I would love to make someone a nice homecooked meal.
-- Ride more. Ride MORE?! Yes, I'd like to ride at least twice a week from now on. I've plateaued in my riding and it's driving me insane. I want to be good. I want horses to like me instead of pinning their ears back whenever I get on them. Also, I've taken a real liking to the idea of having a closer connection with the horse I'm riding. In the end, it's the communication and relationship with the horse that I enjoy most about riding.
-- Improve my Chinese. I'm thinking of starting a Chinese club at work where we sit down for one hour a week and speak only Chinese. This is pretty much the only way I think I can maintain my rapidly deteriorating speaking skills.
-- Girls?? Verdict is still out on this one.
-- Career path. After four years, I'm finally doing what I wanted to be doing and it's everything I thought it could be! However, arriving at a destination means enjoying the view and then choosing a new destination to hike to, so my task is to come up with the next stop.