~ponies are magic~

May I present My (not very) Little Pony?

I had tons of MLPs when I was a kid. I probably had more ponies than all my other toys put together. Now I am a grownup (and no, I haven’t even watched the new cartoon yet) and I have lots of respect for all the real-life magic a real live horse possesses natively… but it’s HALLOWEEN! I can let my inner 8 year old run wild.

Dixie was less thrilled about the whole event.

Livin’ dangerously. You haven’t seen a picture of me sans helmet in a long time.

I think the pro photographer got better pictures of us. My dress has a freakin’ tutu with little fiber-optic blue twinkly lights, sadly completely invisible in the daylight. It’s a Slutty Alice In Wonderland dress, so I went with playing cards on Dixie’s butt.

After the pretty pics, I put my helmet on and sprinted through the 10 mile fun ride. I know I sound like a broken record, but Dixie was awesome. She stood quietly with me on her back for the ride meeting, then walked me around to talk to friends. When the trail opened her ears went up and she was all business. I doubt we trotted a mile – it was all fast flat walk and rack and pace. The photographers set back up at the lake, about 5 miles in, so I’m sure the action shots are horrible – as she sweated the makeup started running, and of course all the dirt came straight out of her coat. I didn’t stay around til the pictures were printed; I’ll order them later this week. I’ll put up links to the photography site when I get them!

Here’s another local blogger’s post about Nevada Day. She lives in Carson City so she actually knows people down there. CC really reminds me of a small Southern town; super charming place. Apparently the parade went on for hours – we were entry #36 but there were over 200. S rode one of her Arabians in native dress in the 150s and she didn’t even assemble til 11 and didn’t start parading til after that!

Rock star parade horse

I rode Dixie in the Nevada Day parade in Carson City this morning. I hitched the trailer last night so I only had to get up at 5:30. It was 22 degrees and pitch dark and I really doubted my sanity. I had to wake my horse up to load her!

She was awesome. Totally amazing. We got to the parking area at the finish at 7:30 and I mounted up at 8. At 8:30 half of my group slowly made our way to the start line then chilled out til the 10 am start. It took about an hour before she decided to stand still and doze off, and she did skitter sideways once when a float shaped like a giant cannon went by us, but in general she was pretty chilled out about all the stuff we saw and heard today. There was a mass hot air balloon race/flight/ascension thing at about 8. Then two WWII jeeps got unloaded from a trailer, and one pull-started the other in the parking lot. The cannons went off at 10, and shortly after that the fighter jets did a flyby. We had to thread our way past a couple of marching bands to get to our starting spot. The Nevada Democrats had a crazy looking animatronic / inflatable donkey on their float, and Dixie gave it a long hard look. Two small kids, momentarily unattended, ran directly behind her throwing rocks at each other and she just swiveled an ear back to track them. Vendors pulling handcarts full of toys, spraying bubbles from bubble machines, were working their way against the direction of the parade, and she didn’t even blink. One of the other horses in our group was having a Very Bad Day and kept backing into other horses, spinning and crashing into other horses, and generally being on the brink of a meltdown. Dixie just moved out of his way when I asked and didn’t pick up any of his nervousness. I even let kids come pet her at the trailer after the ride. She was so calm about the whole adventure that she never even broke a sweat!

At first I didn’t want to take pictures because I wanted both hands in case I needed to control her. Then when the parade started I was too busy waving at kids to bother with pics. I know, in internet terms that means today did not happen, but I was entirely too busy having fun!

I have no idea why Nevada makes such a big deal about the day they entered the US, when none of the other states I’ve lived in have even noted it. But I think it’s incredibly endearing :) Everybody loves a parade and a day off work.

Defeating winter gloom, Phase 2

I got some Vitamin D, so Phase 1 is underway.

I decided Phase 2 is to exercise. So today built a homemade barbell which should allow me to do the two most important lifts – deadlifts and squats. If I build a bench, I can bench press with it too. The basic concept will work for auxiliary lifts too, if I decide to do any. I got my inspiration from browsing some forums yesterday, and PM’d the guy for details. Today I dropped $50 on supplies and assembled my ghetto weights.

Equipment:
Blue buckets, for experiments in concrete. Orange buckets, for sand. Two pieces of 2′ chain (definitely overkill). Four 250 lb snap links. Two eyebolts and a new drill bit. Not shown: a 6′ piece of 1″ inside diameter steel pipe.

I clamped the pipe in my vise. (side note: the vise is the most awesome tool I never would’ve thought to buy. Everybody needs one!) The two yogurt containers held water to lubricate the bit. My poor little homeowner-grade cordless drill was, amazingly, up to the task of drilling 1/4″ holes in that steel pipe. Once I got the first hole started, I really leaned on the drill and poured water from one container, over the pipe, into the second container. It took many many containers of water to drill each hole, and I swapped/recharged the battery after every hole.

After four holes, the water was pretty grody!

The holes were the only hard part. I bolted the eyebolts onto each end of the pipe, with some Loctite for good measure. A snap link connected each eyebolt to a piece of chain. Another snaplink hooked the chain onto the bucket handle. The buckets will hold close to 80 lbs of sand each, and the bar weighs 10 lbs.

Here’s the clever part: the chains are adjustable. They’re set so that when I’m squatted down completely, the buckets are resting on the ground. This means that if I try to lift something too heavy and fail, I won’t be crushed by the weight. That’s what the safety rails in a power cage are for.

I dragged the bathroom scale out and marked the buckets – about a quarter full of sand is 20 lbs.

But that’s pretty clunky, really. You need a way to add weight incrementally – 50 lbs is a good warmup for squats but it’s probably the most I can bench press. Shoveling sand in to add weight and dumping it back out to switch exercises is a no-go really. So I futzed around and made two concrete weights.

Remember those blue buckets? I lined them with some black plastic and mixed up some concrete. I added knotted rope loops in the concrete for handholds.

When they cure, I’ll weigh them. Hopefully the plastic liner means they’ll pop right out of the buckets, but if not, the buckets were pretty cheap. If I can get the concrete out, I’ll make several more sets of concrete weights. They should stack inside the orange buckets.

The whole thing is far from perfect, but I’m not a competitive weightlifter so it’s plenty good for me. The buckets wobble a lot on their chains, but I think that makes it better for my purposes – it’ll really work my core stabilizers to pick up a wobbly load. If I really want to add more weight I can drill more holes in the pipe and hang another set of buckets (or find bigger buckets!)

Right now I’m using yard sand, but I’m thinking about setting up the Former Dr. Seuss Room as my weight room, and I will probably buy nice clean playground sand if I do that. What if there are bugs in my yard sand? Shudder.

If I buy a 2×12 and some bolts, I can whack together a bench pretty easily. I’ll need to whack together a small platform to deadlift with this setup, but I have enough scraps in the barn to do that tomorrow. I’m pretty excited about this!

Boca, again

tl;dr: I went back today and explored the other branch of the road. It’s just as rocky, with very few sections I’m comfortable trotting, so I probably won’t regularly return.

I took some beauty shots of my girl. A head only a gaited fan could love:
Big head

This is better!

Got a picture of the sign I mentioned last post. Muscle cars not recommended!
No muscle cars

Can’t you just imagine a family in matching outfits pulled up at that sign, scratching their heads and checking the family atlas to find a new spot to drive to?

Here’s the perfect example of why I get nervous riding toward unknown forest target shooters. The white/black thing is a target blowing in the wind; there were boxes of Blazer ammo all over the place. Be sure of your target and what is beyond it, yall. (To be clear: this is not the gun club area I was riding toward on Friday; this was a lone gunman on a different trail.)

About 500′ up, looking down at Boca Reservoir and a prescribed burn.

Nice climbs, bad footing. This is why I won’t regularly ride Boca – there’s almost no trail that I feel comfortable asking my horse to trot regularly.

Hard work for a fat hairy mare :)

She looks so noble when she stares into the distance at imaginary predators.

It really is beautiful up there.

I’m glad I went. Dixie is such a pleasant creature now – easy (for me) to handle, loads good, hauls good, cooperative to ride. And I got a little sun – it was about 65 up there, but a cold wind came up in the last mile and I was glad of my new windbreaker.

I’m going to try supplementing Vitamin D and see if that helps keep my mood up this winter. It helps some people and others don’t notice a difference. I’ll let yall know in a couple of months.

A soap opera of murder

I’ve been sort of vaguely following this crazy Hells Angels thing for a month now and I thought I’d share it with yall. I don’t think it’s really hit the national news, so if you don’t read West-coast newspapers you may not be aware of it.

Way back in September, we had the annual Street Vibrations motorcycle convention. I am sympathetic to motorcycles and I try to always give them a lot of room and watch out for them on the roads, but I don’t really like SV – they act like assholes on the road when they all get together. Kind of like how individual endurance riders out training are always careful to be polite to other trail users, but there are always complaints following a ride about groups of e-riders running trail riders off the trail. It’s just kind of human nature. So there’s too many bikes on the road (and too many bad California riders – Nevada isn’t a lanesplitting state and it freaks us out when they do it!)

This year Street Vibrations went terribly wrong when a fight turned into a shooting at the Nugget. The president of the Hells Angels was killed by some dude from the Vagos, who was promptly arrested. Tragic but not really blogworthy.

The RGJ moved on to other Reno news, and the story picked up in San Francisco. A bunch of Vagos members were arrested with rocket launchers and hundreds of pounds of cocaine and stuff. Still not weird enough for me to blog.

Then the Hells Angels had the funeral for their slain president, and another member was killed. By another Hells Angel! Intra-gang violence at a funeral, woah. The shooter immediately disappeared, and the cops dug up the president’s grave looking for the shooter’s body. But a week later, they decided he was still alive and at large.

Today brought the weirdest twist so far. A guy driving a paratransit van deliberately ran over a Hells Angel dude on the 580. What the hell is going on with the biker gangs?

I also think it’s interesting that this is being reported with the gang names. I don’t read the LA papers, so I don’t know if they name the gangs down there, but the SFGate rarely names gangs. There’s probably a murder a week in SF/Oakland that’s termed “gang related” but they never say “X was believed to be a member of the Bloods” or whatever. Just “rival gang member.” I can’t decide if this is discrimination against bikers or privilege because the Hells Angels are white.

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