Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Fun With My Smartphone

I've got a smartphone. Of course. Doesn't just about everyone, these days? Not that I ever use it for anything other than occasional phone calls, or reading a book from my Kindle library when I'm waiting somewhere, or once in a blue moon sending a text to the barn manager about my horse. Most of the time it's shut off and lurking in the bottom of my purse, just like a dumb phone. Yes, I'm a primitive -- still have a landline for my primary phone, fercrissakes.

But I have found a new use for it. I'd been wanting to have a music player for entertaining myself while taking walks when my walking buddy isn't available. I'd even picked up a low-end MP3 player but hadn't gotten around to trying to download my iTunes library onto it from my computer. Then my walking buddy suggested I use my phone for a player, as she does.

So I tried syncing my Android phone to one of my computers to get my iTunes stuff onto it, and couldn’t get my device driver to download. Bummer, right? But as I was about to give up, an errant finger swipe launched an icon called “Amazon Appstore” and what did I see? A menu of stores, the second of which was music. I pursued it further and whaddaya know? Every frikkin CD album I’ve ever purchased from Amazon, for years and years and holy crap did I actually buy that?!? was right there in the Amazon Prime cloud, just waiting to be downloaded into my phone! In a few minutes I went from nuttin’ to 650 tracks on the thing.

Now all I have to do is figure out how to play what I want, when I want, from the mammoth pile of possibilities. Oh, and make sure the generic earbuds I have lying around somewhere will work with the phone.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Fun With Horse Manure

Note: If discussion of horse manure bothers you, stop reading.

So Ben was actually still un-mud-rolled when I got to the barn despite the last few days of record warmth, unblanketing, and vast swaths of paddock filth uncovered by the melting of snow.

Unfortunately, the back of his butt and hindlegs and the underside of his upper tail were caked with crud from his unfortunate habit of releasing dribbles of liquid poo whenever he produces manure balls. This is not a sign of disease, especially at times of changeable weather; a certain fraction of horses simply are prone to it, and do or do not respond to various management practices to try to control it.

Ben's been dribbling for quite a while. I've tried some possible remedies in his feeding program over time, to little avail, and now have started him a couple of days ago on Sand Clear, a psyllium supplement that hopefully will absorb the excess liquid his digestive system is producing. Various horseperson friends have offered various suggestions; if the Sand Clear doesn't work I'll move on to the next one. Sometimes nothing works and one just must keep on cleaning the mess. At least it's not so visible from a distance on Ben, since he's a manure-brown bay; on a light chestnut or gray it's sadly apparent.

Anyway, we shall see if anything helps. But today was so warm I decided to wash as much of the filth off as I could. So I put rubber gloves and big sponges in a bucket, ran hot water into two plastic gas cans I keep for bringing warm water to the barn, and went to the barn. I set up everything in the aisle of the four-stall part of the shedrow, led Ben in to the crossties, and set to work sponging at the mess.

Yup. It was just as disgusting as you're imagining. I kept at it, though, spent probably an hour working on his butt and legs and tail, and by the time I was done the caked-on filth was pretty much removed. Oh, he's not really clean-clean; what he desperately needs is a full bath with horse shampoo and multiple rinses; but he's way better off than when I started. And happily there was no sign of scalding on the skin underneath the crud.

I finished Ben off with a good full-body currying and brushing, which he loved, combed the dreadlocks out of his mane and trimmed the scraggliness off it, and returned him to his paddock to resume noshing on his lunch hay. Then I cleaned up the work area, put my equipment back in the car, and took stock of myself: Clothes, skin of lower arms and shoes spattered with manure-infused scrubbing water, and a lower back aching and complaining from all the bending and reaching. And it will all be to do over again, I'm sure, the next time it's warm enough.

But it was worth it.

Friday, February 24, 2017


My washing machine died. Semi-full of a middling load, including towels. Died at the first spin cycle, so when I went to check on it everything was soapy-waterlogged. Ran a rinse cycle, came back to find it still unspun. I wrung out about half of the load as best I could and started it in the dryer; wrung out the other half (with the towels) and left it draped on the washer to drain as much as possible more out of the stuff while I wait for the poor patient dryer to extract the water from the first half.

I put in a call to a local repairman, but while waiting for a call back then thought, well, this thing is 20 years old and I've more than got my money's worth out of it, so called the local appliance store, where I've bought other items and been happy with them. They said the earliest they could install a new purchase would be Tuesday. That's not so bad, so I drove over, checked out what they had, and wound up buying a new top-loader on sale for a darn good price. It's not top or even middle of the line but it's an American-made Maytag, it's small enough to fit in the spot where the old machine lived, and since I don't want or need all the bells and whistles of a higher-end machine it will do just fine for me.

The salesman said it sounded like it was the transmission that blew out, that it would have been hard to find parts to fix my 20-year-old machine, and that 20 years was a good run. He said washers these days probably only last about ten years, but in ten years I'll be 78 and I daresay the health of my washing machine will be among the least of my worries.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Ah, Valentine's Day

Oh, good grief, they're at it again: The Vermont Teddy Bear Company is running those ads for Valentine's Day, where gorgeous young women get all hot and sexily bothered when their man gives them a gigantic four-foot-tall (and damn near as wide) teddy bear. They snuggle up to it, wriggling seductively, with smoky-sexy eyes....

Yeh, right. A normal woman's reaction to being handed one of those things? "Just where the HELL do you expect me to PUT this?!? Bend over, HONEY, and let me see if it will fit!"