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Horsemen's Voice Newsletter 04-25-04

April 11, 2004

In this issue

Dependency on the Internet

New Mexico Horse Fair

Rain, Rain, and More Rain

Shawna Karrasch and Clicker Training

Fun Things to do April 12-18

 

Dependency on the Internet

 

Don't it always seem to go

You don't know what you've got 'til its gone

They paved paradise and put up a parking lot

A couple of weeks ago, Nancy and I lost our internet connection while we were trying to upgrade to DSL high-speed internet. We were without internet access and e-mail for nearly a week. It was amazing how lost we felt and how we had grown so dependent on it. Have you ever lost power in your house, but you still tried to turn on light switches when you walked in a room? It's a hard habit to overcome, because electricity has become such a part of the fabric of our life. We felt the same way when we lost our internet connection. Several people sent e-mails to Nancy about the New Mexico Horse Fair that she couldn't get to. We couldn't e-mail our subscriber list to our magazine mailer. Even though I have to wade through hundreds of e-mails about Viagra, low mortgage rates, and hot chicks, I have become dependent on e-mail for my communication with  many people, and it was hard to give up that addiction cold turkey.

 

It's wonderful how the internet has provided so much information at our fingertips. We used to have to wait for the 6:00 news to find out what the weather forecast is. Now, we can check it on the internet. What was the name of that actor on "Deadwood"? Just Google it. You can find it. We don't even look in the newspaper for movie listings any more. It's easier to go to a bookmark in our browser.  I looked up the song lyrics above on the internet because I wasn't sure how they went. I am writing a story for the May issue of The Voice about a New Mexico cowboy who was hurt in a bullfighting accident in Hawaii. I have done a lot of research on this story through Google and e-mail.

 

But, boy, take that access away, and the D.T.'s start very quickly. I felt lost without my internet access. I realized I need to spend more time doing things that are real and solid instead of ephemeral on my computer screen. 

 

Like riding horses.

 

(And, yes, I did look up that word to make sure I was using it correctly: http://dict.die.net/ephemeral)

 

At the end of this newsletter, you will see a tirade against Qwest, our lovable, local phone company.  I thought I could tell the story of our lost internet connections and mold it into something fun and entertaining. But, I guess I had to write it up to finally let go of it. I feel better after the rant, but it got so long, I wasn't sure you folks would like to read it as part of this newsletter. I stuck it at the end, in case anyone wants to vicariously get angry at the phone company. 

 

New Mexico Horse Fair

 

The New Mexico Horse Fair is only three weeks away and those of us who are involved in getting it going are getting excited about it.

 

The Fair will be at Expo New Mexico, formerly known as The State Fairgrounds, on April 30 - May 2. There will be a short entertainment Friday evening, but the real fun begins Saturday. There will be clinicians giving demos and talks in two arenas all day long for two days. The clinicians include Richard Shrake and Ken McNabb, plus some local talent. There will be so many educational seminars going on that we will have to put up two different education pavilions. So far, we have about 40 booths sold for lots of shopping. There are seven stallions signed up for Stallion Alley if you want to gawk at some gorgeous horse flesh. 

 

Don't have a horse, but would like to ride one? The American Quarter Horse Association will have an arena there where they will allow folks to "Ride America's Horse." For kids who aren't old enough for that, we will have pony rides for them. We will also have a Kid's Korral where kids can make their own stick horses and other fun things.

 

On Saturday there will be a Ranch Versatility competition in the Horse Barn. On Sunday, that space will be filled with an exciting barrel race.

 

One headliner will be Temple Grandin, talking about Animals and Autism. Dr. Grandin is an autistic woman who has a PhD in Animal Behavior. We heard her talk and met her in 2000, and she is a wonderful speaker and a very interesting person. Click here to get information about her book Thinking in Pictures on Amazon. Her talk will be Sunday afternoon at 1:00.

 

Admission at the fair last year was a pretty steep $12. However we have dropped the price to $5, and kids under 10 are free. It should be much easier to take your whole family this year.

 

Over the next couple of weeks, I will be plugging the Fair even more here in this space. Stay tuned. Don't touch that dial...

 

 

Shawna Karrasch and Clicker Training

 

One of the Horse Fair clinicians I am looking forward to meeting and working with is Shawna Karrasch. She wrote the book, You Can Train Your Horse to Do Anything about clicker training. I have used some of the things I learned in that book on Hoss, and he it has really improved my relationship with him. By using positive reinforcement (offering a treat when he does something right) instead of negative reinforcement (taking away the pressure when he does something right), Hoss's attitude toward me has changed. Not only does he see me a source of treats, but I think he likes working on the tasks and tricks that we are playing with. I think he has as much fun as I do.

 

Shawna will be using Hoss in one of her demos, so I hope you will come watch.

 

We originally asked Shawna to stay around a day after the NM Horse Fair in case anyone wanted to have private lessons with her. Nancy and I decided that after the fair is over, we will be too tired to try to host a clinic. Is there anyone out there who might want to invite Shawna to their place so that she can give private lessons on Monday, May 3? If so, please let us know soon. We will be making Shawna's plane reservations soon.

 

Rain, Rain, and More Rain

 

For years we have been complaining about the drought here in New Mexico, and we wish it would rain. Now that it has been raining, we're starting to complain a bit about that, aren't we? Only ten days into this month, and Albuquerque has had its second wettest April ever. Those of you who live in wetter climes will be amused to find out that means we have had just over three inches of rain. I know there are lots of places where three inches is common for a single afternoon. Here in the desert, it's about a third of our normal annual rainfall.

 

I was with a friend Friday afternoon, and she was worried it was going to rain again. I asked her why. She said she is tired of her boots coming off in the muck when she is feeding her horses. Her horses are tired of standing in the mud. Last weekend, Nancy said, "So this must be what Seattle is like." I said, "Yeah, except here we know the rain will be gone in a few days, and in Seattle, they probably have horse pens that drain." Our horse pens are the lowest spot on the whole property, and our poor horses are tired of standing in the mud, too. I'm a little surprised that they don't spend more time in pasture where it's muddy, but the water isn't standing four inches deep there. About 350 days a year, we don't have to worry about mud and water in our horse pens, but we sure complain for those other fifteen days.

 

I'm trying to look on the bright side (beside the obvious that we should be able to water our pasture all summer). I am finding that I am working on my balance while carrying flakes of hay while trudging through boot-sucking mud. My strength and endurance are being helped, too. It's a lot of work trying to keep your boots from being lost forever in the depths of the mud. And when it's cold, rainy, and muddy, I don't feel the least bit guilty for spending my Sunday afternoon writing a newsletter instead of being out riding. 

 

And speaking of Seattle, our son just moved there. They have a saying up there. "If you can't see Mt. Rainier, it's raining. If you can see Mt. Rainier, it's going to rain." I think I'll take my 350 days of sunshine over that anytime, even though it's sometime hard to slog through this mud.

 

Fun Things to Do  April 12-18

 

Linda Carson sent me this item moments before I was going to send this newsletter:

 

The Whispering Pines 4-H Club is holding a car wash on April 17, 2004, to benefit Walkin N Circles Ranch/NM Equine Rescue. Please show these wonderful 4-Hers and the rescued horses your support by getting your car washed at the Wienerschnitzel restaurant on the corner of Academy and San Mateo in Albuquerque.  The fun starts at 9:00 a.m.

 

16 – 18            LINDA ALLEN CLINIC, Equibest Equestrian Center , Ruidoso.  Info:  Sharon Stewart-Wells, 505-336-7090 or equibest@zianet.com

 

16 – 18            NM INVITATIONAL TEAM ROPING, Expo NM Horse Arena

 

17        APPROVED PINTO & ALL-BREED SHOW, NM Pinto Horse Club, Bosque Farms Rodeo Arena, 7:30 a.m.  Info:  Marilyn, 865-6568

 

17        OPEN ALL-BREED TRAINING SHOW, NM Appaloosa Horse Club.  Expo NM Dairy Barn.  Miniature classes included.  Info & stalling:  Alpha Russell, 898-9494 or alphaterry@bigfoot.com

 

17 – 18            L JUDGING PROGRAM 2004, NM Dressage Assoc. sponsored.  Criteria for Gaits, Paces, Movements & Figures.  Joan Humphrey, Albuquerque.  Info:  Steve or Maureen Baca, 856-1401

 

17 – 18            DRESSAGE & JUMPING CLINIC w/Guenter Thiede & Kai Mark Sebastian.  Sponsored by Taos Saddle Club & MacArthur Stables.  Taos .  Info:  Pam MacArthur, 758-8366

 

17 – 18            NATRC CHOKECHERRY RIDE & CLINIC, Farmington .  Info:  Bill Smith, 334-6275 or ffire@ddbroadband.net

 

18        SPRING INTO SUMMER SHOW, NM Appaloosa Horse Club, double-judged, Expo NM Dairy Barn.  Info:  Alpha Russell, 898-9494, or alphaterry@bigfoot.com

 

18        DITCH PONY PROMENADE, fun show for kids & horses.  Corrales Top Form Arena.  Premiums at Dan’s Boots & Saddles, Corrales Village Office

 

18        HORSE PLAY, Horsemen’s Arena, Belen.  Beginner, novice, intermediate.  Barrels, poles, flag racing & one fun event.  Info:  Vernon or Wendy Honeyfield, 865-9585

 

 

 

Qwest Tirade

 

Following is my rant about Qwest. It got too long and whiny to fit in the regular newsletter. But if you liked getting upset with big companies, this essay is for you. Besides, I am too narcissistic to write something and think that nobody would want to read it. Maybe Nobody will read it.

 

Happy trails...

 

jay

 

Qwest Tirade:

 

I am no longer angry about the frustrations of our phone lines and DSL service from a week ago...

 

But I still want to share it with you. I want to tell you how Qwest's "Spirit of Service in Action" ad campaign doesn't quite measure up to the reality.

 

I had been trying to get DSL high speed internet service here for more than a year, but I was always told that it wasn't available here. I happened to talk to a couple of Qwest technicians working on the phone lines in front of our house. They said that they had installed DSL in places even further from the Central Office than our place. With a lot of wrangling and cajoling, I finally got Qwest to agree to install DSL here on Friday, March 26. They had conditioned a line so that it would handle DSL.

 

The big day came, and the Actiontec DSL gateway they were supposed to ship to us for the DSL service hadn't arrived. The install was rescheduled for Tuesday, March 30. It was a little disappointing, but no big deal. It was but a tiny portent of disappointments to come.

 

I was given a window from 8 AM to 5 PM when the tech would arrive. Boy, that narrows it down. The DSL tech finally showed up around 2:00. The line they had assigned to our DSL line was not conditioned. I told the tech that at least one line was supposed to have been conditioned, so why not swap those lines? By about 3:30, he had that issue straightened out, and the DSL service was up and running. Yay!

 

But, wait, there's more...

 

Most people will configure their home DSL service to have just one computer attached to it, and that was how the DSL gateway came configured. Since we have three computers and a network printer hooked up here, we needed some extra stuff. And because of the number of lines coming into our house, we had to take down the slower, older frame relay connection we relied on. Sorry to get technical here, but we also needed a secure firewall and a Virtual Private Network so that I could communicate with my work in Albuquerque in the same way that I used to with our old connection. I started working with Lucy, our system manager at my day job, as well as talking to Qwest to try to figure how to get things configured. Qwest said they would not help with setup except for their most basic configuration. By Wednesday morning, Lucy and thought that we were about to get this configuration figured out, and things were looking good.

 

But, wait, there's more...

 

Wednesday morning, Nancy and I started noticing that calls for The Horsemen's Voice were coming in on our regular home phone line. By around noon, we also figured out that when people called our regular home line it never rang anywhere in our house. The techs who installed the DSL the day before must have somehow screwed up our regular phone lines.

 

I was starting to get tense about not getting my regular work done, as well as getting behind on magazine stuff. Since we had no internet connection, we couldn't e-mail the subscriber list to our mailer so that the magazines could be mailed. I usually hand deliver the magazines to the stores that sell them in Albuquerque, Corrales, and Valencia county. We had magazines to deliver on Wednesday, but I couldn't get away to deliver them. The stress was building.

 

But, wait, there's more...

 

About an hour after we called in the problem with the phone lines, the DSL line went down. The Qwest help line said that they would send out a tech as soon as possible. Maybe today, but at least, "the first thing in the morning." If I had known that the tech wouldn't arrive until the next morning, I could have delivered magazines Wednesday afternoon. But, no, I had to sit here and do NOTHING waiting for NO ONE to come. The knot in my stomach was starting to tighten up.

 

But, wait, there's more...

 

I call Qwest support "the first thing in the morning" and I am told that our repair ticket is second on the list and a tech should be here by 10:30. At 10:30, I call and we have been bumped to third on the list, and he would be here by 11:30. At 11:30, the ETA was 2:00. If had known that that the tech wouldn't come until after 2:00, I could have spent the morning delivering magazines. It was April 1, and I felt like I had been fooled. The magazines were officially late getting to the newsstands. By this time, I had gotten pretty good at Spider Solitaire on the computer because that was about all I could do while I was on hold for as much as a half hour waiting for status of our trouble ticket. And the knot in my stomach was getting bigger.

 

But, wait, there's more...

 

The tech who came out here finally at 3:00 did fix the regular phone lines, but there was a short in the DSL line. My thought was, "Duh!" but I kept that to myself. The DSL tech could not fix it. He had to turn it over to line tech. And they had already gone home for the day. If I had known that the line wouldn't be fixed, I could have... well, you know the story. I was getting further behind in my work. The knot in my stomach was worse, and my solitaire was better. The tech would be out "first thing in the morning".

 

But, wait, there's more...

 

At 8:30 Friday morning, I get a call from a Qwest tech asking about our regular phone lines. I said that Sean had fixed them the day before, but please send out a DSL tech so that I can get this fixed and we can get back to work. He said they would send someone right out. I waited an hour and a half and called the help line again. "Someone should be right there. You are next on the list." I started calling every hour, waiting on hold for a half hour, and finally being told another ETA always another hour in the future.

 

Most people who know me know that I am usually pretty laid-back and easy-going. My tension was so high on Friday afternoon that I started getting more than a little nasty when talking to Qwest folks. When they finally arrived Friday afternoon (when I could have spent the morning delivering magazines), they sent two trucks. The tech that helped me out gave me his pager number as well as his boss's name and number. Nice gesture, but too little too late.

 

They did get the DSL line back up. Yay!

 

But...

    wait...

        there's...

            more...

 

Remember how I said that Qwest would not help us configure our equipment except in the most simple manner? Lucy and I still had problems getting the equipment configured. She called Actiontec, the people who make the gateway, and spent $30 bucks to get the magic on how to configure it. When the line came back up on Friday, I had to reset the gateway to make sure that the simple DSL configuration worked. We called Actiontec for more help. They said that they would have to charge us $30 to help us do it again, but here's the dirty little secret: Qwest is supposed to help with this particular configuration for FREE. My tension has not gone away, and I am mightily annoyed at Qwest by now.

 

I called up the support line. It's terrible when you have the support line number memorized, and even the buttons I have to push to get through their voice mail system to get to the right people. More waiting and more solitaire. I finally get a guy on the line who was not only incompetent, he was arrogant. I finally said, "You know what? I'm going to call back and get a tech that doesn't piss me off so much." When I called again for help with this configuration, that guy said that Qwest was not supposed to do that configuration. When I told him that Actiontec said that Qwest was supposed to do this bit of support, he put me on hold, and I waited again for fifteen minutes. When someone answered the phone, it was Actiontec. He said that he would have to charge me thirty bucks if he did it. I told him my situation, and he called Qwest again and he told the Qwest representative that he needed to help me with it.

 

I had finally found the right tech. Not only did he know what he was doing, but he was calm and patient with me. He did help me with the configuration, and we got the connection made in the way it needed to be set up. The knot in my stomach finally eased a bit.

 

Lucy and I still had configuration issues throughout the weekend, and everything was working just swell come Monday morning. But it was six days in which I could not get any work done, and our magazines were delivered on Saturday three days late.

 

Except for the pinheads who were supposed to help me with the configuration on Friday, all of the Qwest folks were courteous and as helpful as they could be. It was just frustrating to have my life on hold for so long because Qwest could not competently fix the problems they caused and they could not accurately tell me when they would be here to help.

 

On its TV ads, Qwest advertised "The Spirit of Service In Action." However, I figured out what it really means. I have noticed that on the TV screen, they always show "The Spirit of Service", but the words "In Action" are always spoken but not seen. I think this is really because the slogan is "The Spirit of Service Inaction." Or maybe it's just the Spirit of Service, and no Actual Service.

 

So, maybe I am still angry. But actually, I think that by writing all this out, it has made me feel better.

-----------------

 

The above newsletter was written when Nancy Gage and Jay Koch owned The Horsemen's Voice magazine. The Horsemen's Voice name and logo are used here with permission of the new owner, Catherine Logan-Carillo, who is a fine, upstanding member of the community. Catherine disavows any silliness, stupidity, vapidity, errors, or unintentional offenses, and the reader should know that she would know better than publish anything like this.

 

Aside from the Horsemen's Voice name and logo, the rest of this newsletter is copyrighted by and is the full responsibility of Jay Koch. All rights reserved. Please ask permission before using any of this material in any form.