Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Saying Goodbye

As I am sure most of you know by now, yesterday we had to put down one of our beloved ponies, Downland Eclipse. She was 17 years old, which isn't that old for a pony since they can live up to the ages of 30-40. But she had gone worse in health in the last 3 years, and ultimately the vet told us that the best thing for us to do was to let her go. She actually thought it would be the right thing to do in the spring, but as loving owners of our pets, we selfishly want them to last just a little bit longer.

Her breathing had started to go down hill around 5-6 years ago. Whether it was genetics or caused by dusty hay, you can never be sure. Many of the ponies shard the same food as her and they did not come down with heaves (as it is called in the horse world). Coughing and hacking was worse in the hot and dusty summer days. Many vet bills for medication including steroid shots and bronchial dilators came in as we tried to make her comfortable. She was always eating and happy. She was our foundation broodmare, and we bred her every year. Last year she did not conceive.My mom wanted to try her again this year but the vet absolutely refused. She said she didn't have enough oxygen for herself, let alone enough to carry a foal.

It was decided that we would put her down in the fall. We didn't want her to have a hard winter. Even when it came to the day we decided to do it on, my mom wanted me to ask the vet if she had gotten better. She knew deep down that the answer would be no, but she wanted some hope.

Eclipse's breathing was so bad you could hear her wheeze. Her torso heaved and sunk in deeply with every breath she took and exhaled. Despite all this, she was still the head mare of the ground.

Eclipse was born in 1993 on the welsh hills. My mom was looking to import a pony from Wales, and a breeder went out and scoped out what was for sale. My mom was looking for a black filly. Although all horses born black go grey (and true blacks are born mousey brown and then shed out into black), the breeder sent her a picture and she bought her. She was out of a well known stallion Downland Mohawk, who's bloodlines trace back to many Welsh Champions and a mare named Downland Eglatine.

Importing ponies from Wales was a big deal in the early 90s. The North American Welsh had started up by importing bloodlines from Wales and then breeding programs were set up. Many of our ponies can be traced within the second and third generation back to the homeland. Many North American breeders brought back stallions and mares to start their own breeding program. Established breeders start their own breeding line after years of selection, where they can finally use their own stallion for breeding. Many breeders in North America still use imported stallions but breed their own stock of mare.

When it came time for Eclipse to come to Canada, it took them three days to catch her. They had to chase her into the trailer. She jumped out of the back, and they had to catch her again. They put a board on the back of the trailer so she wouldn't escape. My mom was advised to board up her trailer when she came to pick her up. Eclipse came on a plane with 4-5 other little ponies.

When my mom brought her home, she was absolutely wild. I don't even remember how long or what we did to make her the calm, quiet, stress free pony she became. She was broke to ride when she was 3. I rode her from 1996 to 1999. We bred her the first time when she was 4 and she had a little colt in 1998.
Eclipse as a two year old in NY

Eclipse's bloodlines were great but they came with a heavy price. Many of her relatives were prone to a disease called laminitis or founder. While it is common, it is more common in ponies than horses. Her full sister had to be put down because of the dehabiliting disease. Founder is when a toxin occurs in the bloodsystem, affecting circulation. The most common way is through eating too much protein but there are other ways of getting it such as stress or kidney problems, for example. The end result is when the inflamed laminate causes a rotation of a bone in the foot called the coffin bone. This inflammation and rotation causes a great deal of pain and heat to the animal, making it unable to stand. Founder can be treated, but preventive measures should always be taken, as founder can return once a horse has had it.

Eclipse had her first bount of founder when she was four, shortly after she had her first foal. Once she recovered, we didn't ride her as much, since stress can be a trigger. Around the year 2000 I stopped riding her because we had other ponies to be ridden and she was much content to be a broodmare.

Since her time with us, she had many accomplishments. So many that we never really kept track of them all but my mom summed them up on her website:
• Welsh Pony and Cob Association of Ontario award of Top Producing Mare
• Several times Champion Section B Mare on the line in Canada and the USA
• Champion Dressage Pony in USA

• Several time High Point Champion Mare and Under Saddle with the Welsh Pony and Cob Association of Ontario
• Qualifier for the Champion of Champion Class at the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto, ON, Canada
• Her foals have moved on to Trillium and A Circuit Hunter Ponies and others have become breeding stock.

In 2005, my mom had her registered as an American Sport Pony.

Since she was 4, she has had a foal every year except in 2010. Her foals and her grandfoals and probably great grandfoals are all over North America. She has 12 foals over all.

From Canadian Live Stock Records:

(These three were born when my mom leased out Eclipse when my parents were divorcing)

Yesterday, on her last day, it rained all morning. I woke up early and I gave her an apple. I opened up the gates connecting the two paddocks and let all the ponies on that side run together. Eclipse had a good run with her pasture buddy and her two daughters, Emma and Ellie. Once they finished running, I put two of them away in their stalls as the vet had to do work on the one, and she couldn't be left alone. I didn't want to leave Eclipse alone, so she stayed outside with Emma. I took a pair of scissors and I cut of a large chunk of her mane. I braided it and put it away for my mom, who requested not to be home when we did this.

Eclipse's last run

The vet showed up shortly after. We took Emma and Eclipse out to the area where we would bury her. We didn't want them to get upset by being separated. The vet told me she was going to sedate Eclipse first. We let her eat some grass while we waited for it to kick in. Once she administered the second dose of sedative, she instructed us to take Emma away. My step dad took Emma back to her paddock. Since Emma was alone, she ran the fence and called to her mom. Eclipse was too sedated to call back. There was a tractor and a tree obscuring the view. The vet thought it would be too traumatic for Emma to see her mom go down.

Once Emma was put back, the vet told me she was going to administer the euthanol next. She said that Eclipse would take a deep breath, then go unconscious. She would not feel anything. Then, just as she said it happened. We helped her onto the ground. I had been crying since the vet showed up, but I was sobbing uncontrollably as we sat near her on the ground. The vet explained it would take a few minutes to happen, but as soon as she spoke, she then added "Oh, she's already gone." Eclipse still had grass in her mouth. We took the halter off of her and covered her with a trap. Our neighbors volunteered to come over and help bury her. Once they were finished, I called them up to thank them. We buried her with a copy of her papers and some pictures.

It was a hard day, but at the end we knew it was the right thing. Then later that day my pony was bitten by a snapping turtle, but that will come later.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Exciting Last Unicorn News!

Back in July I decide to roder the 40th edition of The Last Unicorn and get it personally signed by the author Peter S Beagle himself. I just recieved notification that there has been a delay, which makes me happy because it means it did not get lost, haha.

Second, the last two issues of The Last Unicorn comic are going to be 10 pages longer than the other comics. I wondered how they were going to fit the whole story into only 6 issues, when they haven't even done half the book yet in the first three issues.

Third, there's going to be a perfume line based on The Last Unicorn. Totally silly but I think I might order one haha.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


For my Back 2 School Back 2 Blogging Assignment this week, we were instructed to contribute 10 or more ideas to the Idea Bank and then choose one of the ideas to write about on your blog. Quite a few relate to parenting and marriage, which I have no experience in at all, but this one caught my eye:

Idea Bank #382

Where do you fall in the birth order of your family? First, middle, baby? Do you think that affected who you are today?

I am the eldest of two children. I have only one sibling, my brother. I am 16 months apart from him. I was 7 month old when my parents found out they were expected baby #2. My mom was 5 months pregnant with my brother on my first birthday.

I think both myself being the first born and our closeness in age has affected who I am today. First, my parents didn't exactly raise me on my own. I was only alone for for a year and a half of my life, which I do not remember. I do not remember a time without my brother. I do not remember a time when I was not the oldest. All my jealousy that I had towards my brother wasn't because I remember how things used to be without him, but came from how my parents treated us as they raised us at the same time, since I was never aware of being alone and being treated like the first child.

My mom in particular (and even to this day) is all about fairness. If she bought something for me, she would buy something for my brother, and vice versa. There were times when we got the exact same thing but in a different colour. Despite how my mom tried to be fair, it wasn't 100%. My brother was always the baby. To this day, my brother is still the baby despite being 24 years old. In the divorce, my mom and dad split custody. My mom didn't see my brother for the longest time during the procedures, and if she did, it was only briefly. During this time my brother had a serious accident; he was rollerblading across a parking lot when he was hit by a truck that was trying to avoid the stoplight. He was sent to a hospital an hour away from his home with a fractured skull. My parents were told that he would either die or have serious mental problems. He was in surgery for a long time while they carefully put his shattered skull back in place. My brother not only survived, but also never lost his ability to function. He sometimes has trouble remembering things from his childhood but his accident when he was 14 never stopped him from doing well in school and graduating from a technical college. His recovery was miraculous.

My brother was also the first and only boy on my dad's side of the family in that generation, and he was the first boy born on my mom's side. My first boy cousin wasn't even born for another 5 or so years. My brother was special because of this. He was spoiled on both sides, but especially my dad's side because he was the gleaming hope that our surname would live on, while me and my two female cousins were dubbed not as special. We also lived closer to my paternal grandparents than my cousins.

I do feel a little jealous of my brother, and this has always made me strive to be as best as I can so that my parents acknowledge my worth as well. This isn't to say that they don't think I'm worthy, or special, but part of me has always felt I have had to compete against him, for attention and praise. This is why I spent my time focusing on school. I was a lot better at school than my brother. I was terrible at math, but everything else I pulled high marks. I went to university while my brother did not. I came out with a bachelor of science.

But, even my own graduation was over shadowed. I was sickened by the fact that my brother, who stayed in high school for an extra year, was going to graduating the same year as me from his college. I had worked 4 years for my degree and he was in his program for 2. My graduation got rained out because the university I went to prided itself on being environmental, green and close to nature. Our convocation was supposed to be held outside. It started to hail as soon as we got to our chairs outside the library. The grads were ushered into the biggest auditorium the school had. It only sat 300 people. The parents were told to go wait at the reception hall. Nobody saw us cross the stage to get our diplomas. We were congratulated by the dean and principal amongst each other and not our families. We had to walk back to them as the rain poured down. All the food had been eaten by the bored parents. When we decided to leave, the sun came out.

The next month, I went to my brother's graduation. The college rented out a hockey arena in the town. There was plenty of seats. The graduation would go on rain or shine. I was jealous.

Even in the things I excel at, my mom sometimes chooses him over me. I will show the ponies all year but when it comes to the big end of the year show in Toronto at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, my mom will pass over all my hard work and have my brother show the ponies instead of me, earning him the glory when they win the ribbons.

To this day, I'm not as jealous as I used to be as a kid. Sometimes I get frustrated that he appears to be better treated than myself. I realize he is special, just like I am special to them as well. But being the eldest who always did what she was told and did well, I sometimes resent that I have to strive hard to make myself feel justified.

A Back To School, Back To Blogging Post
Kludgy Mom

My Love/Hate Relationship with Thunderstorms

When I am talking to someone about an on coming or occuring thunderstorm, I usually say "Thunderstorms suck" and the other person in the conversation usually replies "I love thunderstorms". I realize that saying they suck is a negative statement, but I actually do love thunderstorms. But at the same time, I hate them. How can this be? I've decided after last night's light show, that lasted from 12:30 AM to aprroximately 3:30 AM, I would speak my mind about thunderstorms.

I LOVE thunderstorms because thunderstorms are fascinating to watch. If you have ever been as lucky to be able to see one forming over a lake, you know this already. I used to live across from Lake Ontario, and it was always a great joy to sit outside in the summer and watch the storms brewing. Lightning has always been exciting to see, not just the flashes in the sky but the actual cracking bolts that strike down into the earth (as long as you are no where near them).

But I also find thunderstorms to be annoying.
  • Thunderstorms mean more work. If it is really bad out, then most of the ponies have to come in. Usually the ponies are outside for the majority of the time. Which means the stalls don't have to be cleaned. As soon as they are brought it, it's extra work. You have to prepare the stalls for them, and then clean them back up the next day ontop of everything else that has to be done here.
  • Thunderstorms make my dogs nuts. Anyone with a dog probably knows this already, but most dogs are crazy when it comes to thunderstorms. I've had a few dogs who didn't care, and even my dogs weren't insane over them until the last two years. They run down into the bsaement, panting and whining. I made the mistake of letting Maggie in my room last night. She climbed onto my bed, stepping on my head in the process because she wouldn't wait for me to move to let her onto the bed. She then panted in my ear last night and tried to shove me off the bed. I kicked her out once, and then my step dad let her back in. I got her to get out of my room when I went to go check on the horses.
  • Thunderstorms mean getting up in the middle of the night and putting the ponies away in the rain if they are unexpected. This happens in the day too but you can see a storm coming, so you at least get some time to do this before it pours.
  • Thunderstorms will keep me up if I do not fall asleep before them. If they start before I fall asleep, goodbye beauty rest.
  • In horror movies, bad things always happen during thunderstorms! Haha.
  • Internet always gets knocked out during storms because we have satelite internet. Satelite tv usually goes out too. Rarely does the power go out, but in a country setting where all you can do after dark is read, watch tv or go on the internet, this is murder, especially if it goes out at an early hour like 8 or 9.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Topless Robot T-Shirt, Oh yeah!

I don't usually win things. I mean, I have won ribbons and awards for showing horses and some elementary school activities but I don't usually win contests. I have occasionally won raffles prizes, but when it comes to selecting something I submitted, not so much.

However, I finally have won something, and it was an momentous occasion for me. I didn't even think I was going to win anything, but maybe get an honourable mention.

I try to enter most of the Topless Robot contests on Fridays. I've probably entered every contest since I started reading the website. Sometimes I don't because I can't really relate to the contest but I do try and put an effort in. The prize is a shrit with the Topless Robot logo on it. I know it doesn't mean much to the general population, but to readers of the site, and lovers of all nerd things, it is a coveted piece.

One particular Friday, TR had a contest on 80s cartoon haikus. You could enter as many times as you wanted. There was a challenge though; TR had never broke 1000 comments before. If we made it to 1000 comments, extra shirts would be awarded. At this time I had started contributing to the comments at SOHB. I had already been a reader there, but now the blog was booming with activity. It was decided by those who frequented both SOHB and TR that we would try and help the goal of 1000 comments. The contest lasts Friday night until Monday at 12 AM. All weekend we submitted our own haikus, and any comments we had about submitted haikus were done in haiku style. By Saturday we had rolled the comments over to 1000. It was then decided we could probably double it by the deadline. One commenter said he had about 300 haikus to add, so if we got up to 1700 we'd be set. By Sunday night, approximately an hour or two from midnight, we had made 2100 post.

I spent a good deal of my time contributing real haikus and haikus about the contest. Here's the original post and its comments. It took almost a week to get the results in. This is what TR editor Rob Bricken had to say:

Let's start with who the winners aren't: Not me. Not me.

Yes, I asked for you Topless Roboteers to see if you could manage to get to 1,000 comments (not entries, necessarily, but comments). And yes, you all were cool enough to do that. But then... then you kept going. And going, and going, and going, and holy shit there were 2100 comments in last weekend's TR contest.

And many entries contained more than one haiku (one entry in particular had 250, but we'll get to that), of course. Sure, not every comment contained a haiku or limerick about '80s cartoons, almost all of them were written in haiku anyways. People were having whole conversations -- about the contest, about Smurf sex, about the power of breasts, about anything -- in haiku. It was truly amazing... and totally awful, since I had to read them all.

After trying to ignore the contest all day Tuesday with booze, I finally finished judging the results at about 1:30 am last night. As promised, there will be extra shirts awarded, but be warned -- with so many entries, I had to be insanely picky, or else it would have taken even longer to judge. There's a lot of awesome shit that couldn't make the cut. Also, there's probably some awesome stuff I missed, again, because 2100 entries, dammit. With that caveat, let's start the Honorable Mentioning.

As I read through the Honorable Mentions, I didn't see my posting handle "ThePirateStar". Just as well, I thought. I had hoped to at least get a mention because I did try most of the weekend to bump up the comment count along with the rest of the TR Superfriends (as we are now called) from SOHB. There were probably about 1500 haikus to go through that had to do with 80s themselves, so picking winners was not an easy task. How could you choose 6 winners? What would you look for in a haiku that makes it stand out above the rest? With 2000 comments, there was likely to be repeats in themes. I went ahead and clicked onto the next page for more mentions and the winners. And that is when I saw it.

Before I get to the winners, I need to make some Special Mentions. There's absolutely no way that this contest would have gotten to 1,000 comments, let alone 2,000, without a group who have dubbed themselves the Topless Robot Superfriends. Again, these are people who had whole conversations entirely in haiku, padding out the comment count, but also exhorting other Topless Roboteers to reach this lofty, insane goal. These include DoctorSmashy, Scooter Atreides, Abraxas, Mostly Different, Jedisilk, Ttoplessnerd and ThePirateStar.

All of these guys already have shirts, with the exception of the lady trio of Jedisilk, Ttoplessnerd and ThePirateStar, who I'm now dubbing Rob's Angels (yes, I will have them performing bizarre missions for me in ludicrous outfits beginning next Monday). Additionally, Jedisilk and ThePirateStar did manage gems like these:

ThePirateStar said:
Powerglide my love
Taught me everything I know
Jedisilk said:
Look up! A Rainbow
Care Bear stomachs shot great light.
Such drugs were taken.

Care bears love children.
Care Bear Cousins love them too.
"Love" ran down their legs
...along with conversations like these.
ThePirateStar said:
We really are one
weird generation, wonder
how we'll run the world

Jedisilk replied to ThePirateStar:
We will run the world
like we run everything else:
from our computers.

ThePirateStar replied to Jedisilk:
There is so much truth
In that one haiku reply
I am enlightened
For their cleverness and shockingly hard work, I'm awarding them shirts. Unfortunately, Ttoplessnerd didn't manage to write any haiku about the subject matter, although she did post several hundred haiku in conversation. You guys can tell me whether you think that deserves a shirt or not.

Of course, I'm not just awarding shirts for effort or being sexxxy ladies. Besides those two, I'm awarding three more shirts (and if you think that I'm not playing fair, again, without Jedisilk and ThePirateStar, we probably wouldn't have gotten to 1,000 in the first place).

I had won a t-shirt! Not just for my 80 haiku attempts, but for helping out in the challenge! I was estatic. It was thrilling to know that our haiku conversations were recognized for the work and time we put into getting to the goal.

I requested a ladies cut in medium, because I wasn't sure how the sizes would run and I happen to be top heavy. An email came to notify it had been sent last week. And it finally came in!

The colour is much better than it shows in pictures. The logo is fantastic. The fit is well, very form fitting! When Jedisilk received her shirt, she mentioned that it was actually a Youth/Junior cut tshirt and not a ladies cut. My t-shirt is a little tight across the chest, but it is a great length. It is not a baby doll tee and therefore goes down to the hips. I can't wait to wear it out to my next geek social, s I will proudly wear my TR shirt. Maybe no one will understand what it means, but it might interest them in checking the website out.
Not a flattering picture, I know.

For the winners and Honourable Mentions of the '80s Cartoon Haikus, go here. Some are a little perverted, just to warn you!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Nerdy Songs

While I was Youtubing, I noticed that I have a quite a few songs on my list that I would call nerdy. They are not parodies, or songs about nerds. They're just, well, nerdy! I do love songs about nerds, and nerdy parodies, but I feel these rather stand out on their own.

This isn't to say these are the only nerdy songs out there, since I am sure there's quite a few! Here's just a couple that I enjoy. Videos under the jump.

Avast, it's International Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Ahoy landlubbers, tis your Captain speaking!

If ye had not known by now, it be International Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Ye can find more information about this holiday by click here.

Ye best be talking the old tongue of pirates t'day, else you may have to walk the plank like the scurvy rat ye are!

But, if ye are not savvy enough for the lingo, might I suggest some other ways to celebrate TLAPD:

Watch a pirate movie! Here's some suggestions:

Dress like a pirate, it's always fun!

Make pirate cookies!

Drink some grog!

Or just change your Facebook layout to "English: Pirate" for the day!

No matter what ye decide to do, be safe in ye travels in the seven seas!