Ride TV

Verizon has carried Ride channel for several months that I’ve noticed while channel surfing, but only since March 1, has it appeared without a message “You are not currently subscribed to Ride …”  Cool.  All I can think is that it’s been downgraded to a tier to which I do subscribe.  Now, I get to watch anything from rodeos to horse jumping and dressage events, along with some generally Western themed shows.  I used to get so bummed when I’d channel surf, and couldn’t watch the show jumping program that was playing.

I grew up riding English, and still love being around horses.  We do have a bunch of horse farms around here.  Some of them offer riding lessons, or hourly rentals, but they mostly want beginner to intermediate kids, not adults looking to learn dressage beyond a flying change.  Although I have ridden bareback, and Western, a handful of times, it’s not much of a challenge.  Dressage would be a challenge.  Nobody rides Western around here.  All our saddlery shops have English style tack, riding apparel, and stable supplies.

As much as I’d love to go riding again, I fear that it would be like the time I rented a horse from a stable in some Mews in London, adjacent to Hyde Park, at which a friend stabled her horse.  We were led out to Hyde Park, by a stable worker, who sort of was a “trail guide.”  She realized I could ride a whole lot better than anyone else she was leading, but I was still restricted to cantering a block ahead, then pulling over by a tree to wait for everyone else to catch up.  Hyde Park rules, for cantering, not hers.

I miss galloping, and jumping.  The only thing I found “interesting” about riding English was the one day I had to ride sidesaddle.  It’s easy enough to clamp your knees and thighs on the saddle, but when your ass has no padding, it’s a bumpy, slippery ride at a trot.

It’d be really cool if Ride would show some driving competitions.  Those four-in-hand ones could be interesting.  I’ve never learned how to drive more than two-in-hand, and those were in-line.

Back to the Longines jumping competition, which is on right now!  Yay!

Hotel Reservations Suck

I had no problems making reservations in Champaign, and Cambridge, but Rochester was quite a challenge, even with member rewards.  The website kept insisting I only wanted one adult, despite repeated attempts to change it to two.  It made no difference to the room rate, but I’d rather not show up with a reservation for one, and have both of us traipse through the lobby with our luggage after check-in to stay for several days.  I finally got it right, but it was like pulling teeth.

FWIW, I was able to print out the reservations for all three places.  Since I’ve never worked for a hotel, it never occurred to me that a king bed room would be cheaper than a room with two queens in one chain, and more expensive in another.  The two of us combined weigh less than 250 lbs., so it’s not as if we need a whole lot of space to spread out.  We’ll take the less expensive option.  After all, we’re only going to crash there at night, and grab breakfast on our way out in the morning.

The worst of it is that printing out the reservations uses four pages per hotel, when it really should only use one page.  What a waste of paper, and ink.

First world problems, right?

Live Concerts and eBay

Around here, we have so many good musicians playing in small local venues.  We got to see Marshall Crenshaw and The Bottle Rockets a couple of nights ago, for the fourth time at that particular venue.  It’s a 19th century movie house and stage that seats less than 300 people.  We also have tix to see Wishbone Ash, the Strawbs, and the Black Lillies at the same venue.

I also snagged tix for a cabaret table for two right in front of the stage to see Al Stewart for the fourth time at another, even smaller local winery venue.  I love his particular “brand” of irreverant and folksy stage manner of talking to the audience between songs, along with all sorts of historical references in the lyrics.  Today’s young’uns would probably think his music’s fine, but would wonder what his lyrics are all about.

Some people go see movies.  We prefer seeing live concerts, especially at small venues where beer, wine, and snacks are available to purchase and bring to our seats to enjoy along with the show.

On to eBay.  I cannot always find the least expensive version of what I want from one of its sellers, but often, I do.  Most of them ship pronto.  If I have to order from another country, it typically doesn’t take long for it to make it through customs, from Poland, Peru, or Japan, but it can get stuck for a week if it’s from China, even if it’s some LED Christmas lights.  I can deal with that.  What pisses me off is that occasionally, I win an auction, pay for it within minutes, and the seller, who is only about 500 miles away from me can’t be bothered shipping it within 10 days.  I shouldn’t have to chase down the seller to inquire about it.  I do have recourse, for a refund, if necessary.  Still, it’s a pain in the ass.  It shouldn’t happen with a seller who has 100% five-star feedback.

Li’L Nikita Strikes Again

Hat tip:  Naaman Brown

I’m more than a little late to the plate on this one.  Evidently, Nicky’s tried to steal someone’s anthology, and make it look like it’s his.  From what I can tell:

  • He had a story accepted
  • He volunteered to do the cover, and some editing
  • He padded it out with at least one story from a woman who had no clue he’d swiped her story
  • He posted the book listing on BookPatch as though it was his, writing the blurb and only comment himself
  • Posted an ad on his old high school’s Facebook page about the book




Mr. Brown tells me:

I am beginning to think the boy has taken over someone else’s book, like he did with Jordan Bobe’s “Darkened Horizons 3”, Carter Kaplan’s “Emanations”, Serena Carrington’s “Avalon”, Aimee Bejarano’s “The Gateway”, Butler’s “The Aeneid”, Bloch’s “This Crowded Earth”, either by being involved [by having one story in the book, or] as a book designer or deciding it’s P.D. and his for the taking. I might be wrong, but, hey, it’s Nickolaus Pacione.

I think he’s right.  The sad part is that the woman whose story he stole is flattered.  He never even contacted her about using it under creative commons, so she found out about it some other way.

On two completely different subjects, Ozzie, our newest adoptee 10 y/o cat, has settled in so well with the other cats, and the dog, that none of them challenge or spook him anymore, and the oddball items I can find on eBay for super cheap never fail to astonish me.

Ozzie has turned out to be a real lap cat, which is great in winter.  He’s a long and tall longhair, so when he sprawls across my lap, he’s the feline equivalent of a fur draft chaser.  He’s got a few physical oral and sinus issues, but nothing other than that.

As for eBay, it’s so easy to find all sorts of things, from tractor parts to party supplies.  From time to time, we do need replacement parts for our tractors; usually, Craig’s List is better, but eBay sometimes has what we need.  Throwing a party for some neighbors and friends is something I have to do, because we got invited to their parties over the holidays.  Sure, we brought hostess gifts, but still, I owe them.  Throwing an outdoors BBQ/cookout is the way to go.  Informal, pool will be open for swimming by then, kids are welcome, the food will be good, and none of it will be catered.  Kids may not like satay sauce, or a spicy BBQ sauce, but they will be fine with Sweet & Sour sauce, or a sweet BBQ sauce.

Have an outdoors bar, with beer, wine, and non-alcoholic beverages.  Set up the tables for seating, and a buffet style setting.  I’ll do the cooking, and the guests may serve themselves.  I’m willing to bet our guests, kids included, would love root beer floats for dessert.  Plenty of coolers and ice will serve to keep the food that should be kept cold, cold; chafing dishes will be fine for anything that should be kept warm, such as pulled pork, flank steak, etc.



Most Boring Stupor Bowl Evah, and Nice Haul

Typically, for a Super Bowl, I make several finger food type munchies:  potstickers with dipping sauce, nachos, chicken satay, etc.  This time around, I wasn’t up for doing all that, so I just made a batch of chili, and quéso, served with tortilla chips.  The chili was spicy enough to make my mouth numb, but hardly what I’d call five alarm (more like three alarm).  I think I’ll use the chicken for tikka masala this evening.

As it turned out, the chili made me sleepy, so I dozed off before halftime, underneath my favorite throw blanket, and didn’t wake up until that turnover right near the end of the game that sealed the deal for the Patriots.  Evidently, everything I missed was something I didn’t regret missing, from Adam Levine’s nips and tats to the god-awful supercilious, sanctimonious ads.

Unless their home team is in it, most people watch the Super Bowl for the ads, anyway.  Apparently, those scored even less than the total game points, if that’s possible.  There hasn’t been a good halftime show since Prince.

Today, I made an errand run to a local deli/bottle shop.  They were still selling their collection of logo beer glasses for $2 apiece, so I picked up another dozen.  They get them for free as promotions from the beer distributors.  Two bucks apiece is a good deal, since they normally run anywhere from $5 to $8, if you get them from the brewery.  The Hoegaarden glasses were supposed to be $5 each, but the woman who works checkout during weekday morning to afternoon hours sold them to me for the same $2 as the other glasses.  I probably wouldn’t serve beer in them, but they’re great for root beer floats.  The rest of the ones I bought were some more Heinekens, Long Trail, and some from Commonwealth Cider (which I had never heard of before today).  The Long Trail ones are laser etched, instead of stamped on, so the logo will never wash off, no matter how many times they get run through the dishwasher.  The only beer glasses I have that need to be hand washed are the Stella Artois and Chimay ones that have gilt or silver around the rim.

Seriously, for $24, these dozen were well worth it.  When they get condensation on them in the summer, people drop them on the patio, and they shatter.  With these, I don’t really care if they get broken, as long as we can sweep or vacuum up the shards before anyone steps on them barefoot.

Bad Brew

We went out for dinner last night, and on our way out of the pub, I picked up a 12-pack of assorted brew from a place called “Mother Earth.”  It wasn’t skunky, but WTF were they trying to brew?  The cream ale was over the top vanilla, and tasted like cream soda.  The gingery one tasted more like ginger beer or ginger ale than a beer.  I like ginger, but this was supposed to be beer, not soda.  The two IPAs that came in it were alright, sort of; they were under the table hoppy, so, not good.

Let’s just say that I will never, ever, ever again buy anything from Mother Earth.   *blecch*

I’ll stick to Yuengling, Yards, Founders, Stella, DAB, and my own home brew, which is an Oktoberfest style lager.  When I can brew better beer than you, you might want to rethink your business model, or at least your recipes.

I’m not used to dissing breweries, just for one thing that is awful, but everything from this brewery is awful.

Better to know now than to stock it in a cooler for a cookout with 20 neighbors.

Yeti Feet

My package finally arrived from Peru.  These alpaca slippers are probably as warm as shearling, and, since they’re white, make me look like a Yeti from the ankles down.  The soles are reasonably thick suede, so I probably could wear them outside, but I wouldn’t go squishing through the mud in them.  I predict one of our cats will want to sleep on them.  I can’t get anything warm and fuzzy without at least one of them deciding it belongs to her or him.

Logistics Software

I do not understand the logistics software the USPS uses.  It makes sense to send a package from Detroit down to Indianapolis, before sending it east.  What makes no sense to me is sending a package from Maryland through Virginia, then up to New York, only to go back down to where I live.  Nor does it make any sense to send a package from here to Maine by way of North Carolina.

Seems like I can get a package here from China faster than I can get one from Queens.  Not quite true, but it’s not as much of an exaggeration as you might think.  The one I’m expecting that was imported from Peru made it through customs in Queens three days ago.  There’s no way it should take three days to travel ~180 miles, during the week.  Are they using a mule train to move the mail?  UPS and FedEx are far more efficient.

The upside, I suppose, is that every last postal employee I’ve ever dealt with, from the guy who drives the route that includes my house, to whoever is working the counter, to the supervisor who answers the phone when I call to inquire about where my supposedly delivered package was delivered, when it sure as shootin’ wasn’t at my house, has always been fantastic.  Nobody from the USPS has ever “gone postal” on me.  Still, it would be nice if the whole company was more efficient.  Yes, it is a company, rather than a government entity.  Your clue is that it has a .com address rather than a .gov one.

On another topic, we brought our dog in for his annual checkup and vaccinations this morning.  Rabies isn’t annual, but he would have been due for it in April, so we had the vet do it today, after he got his annual combination shot.  Saved us another trip, and probably another $35, because it just got tacked on as a line item, so we didn’t also get charged for a new visit/exam.  I happened to have exact change in greenbacks for the visit, so that was good.  I hate using a credit card, or writing a check, when I can avoid it.  Not sure the vet cares all that much how I pay, as long as I do it before we leave.  Fortunately, none of our cats are due for their visits until late summer.

Lucked Out

We were supposed to get a foot of snow overnight.  Instead, we got an inch of rain.  That could have become a problem, if the sun had stayed beyond cloud cover, but it broke though, and the wet driveway is getting dry.  Good, because it’s supposed to go into single digits over the next couple of days, which wouldn’t be long enough to burst pipes, but would make getting out of the driveway a bit interesting.  Phew!

On another note, my neighbor who brought over some Christmas cookies replied to my “Thank You” card asking whether she’d be willing to share the recipe for her peanut butter chocolate bars (to die for!) with one of her own, including a handwritten index card with the magical recipe.  Some people are funny about sharing recipes.  This neighbor was willing to pass it along.


I had to drop something off at the UPS Store about a mile from here, and decided to stop by another place on my way back to pick up a 12-pack, mostly because my home brew needs another week’s worth of fermenting, and it was on the way.  The place happened to have a nice big display of promotional glassware from various breweries for $2/glass, or 12 for $20.  Why not snag an extra two for the same price?  So, I did.

It’s a mixed bag of Stella, Heineken, Chimay, Allagash, Long Trail, O’Hara, and Red Hook.  I didn’t want any of the Guinness ones, and the Hoegaaarden ones looked like they should be filled with ice cream and root beer, rather than beer, so I passed on those.  We have a wet bar in the basement rec room, and when we host parties, usually during the summer, when we set one up outside on the main patio, glasses get broken or chipped.  It never hurts to have extras.  None of the ones I snagged look like your basic pint glasses.

I felt sorry for the woman who decided they had to be wrapped individually, because none of them would fit in a 6-pack or 4-pack box.  But, she’s a doll.  We’ve known each other by sight for a couple of years.  It was like packing glassware or coffee mugs for moving day, except that they all went into paper bags, rather than a corrugated cardboard box.  She even helped me carry it out to my car, so that I didn’t have to make two trips.  I didn’t ask her to do that, but I appreciated, and took her up on her offer.

I’m sure the place got these promotional glasses for free from the respective distributors, but selling them for what they did is a win-win for them, and their customers.  These sort of logo’d glasses normally run anywhere from $5-8 each (plus shipping), if you order them directly from the brewery, depending upon whether the rim is plain, or covered in gilt or silver.  The Stellas are gilt; the Chimays are silver.  Hand wash those.  The rest can go though the dishwasher, just like any other glass can.  The niftiest part is that eight of them could do double-duty to serve wine, in a pinch.