I Fought Cucumber Stream and Cucumber Stream Won

 Posted by on 22 July 2014 at 10:00 am  Funny, Personal
Jul 222014
 

Paul and I are on vacation, and yesterday, we hiked six miles along “Cucumber Stream” near Breckenridge. At the mid-point of our hike, I waded into said stream in my Vibrams to cool off my feet. The stream was not merely cool, but OMFG COLD!! After just a few seconds, my feet got “brain freeze.” (Really, the feeling was just the same, only in my feet.)

Here are some choice pictures that Paul Hsieh took as I walked back through the water to the blessed shores of dry land.

I swear that I was not hamming it up for the camera. That water was was insanely cold.

The Arrival of My New Horse Phantom

 Posted by on 2 June 2014 at 9:30 pm  Animals, Horses, Personal
Jun 022014
 

Phantom arrived this evening! She’s here, and she’s mine, mine, mine!!!

I’d gotten everything ready in advance, so when she got off the trailer, I just took her up to the barn, walked her around the area, and then let her loose. She trotted and cantered a bit — not due to any great anxiety or excitement, but just to stretch her legs after two long days in the trailer coming from Atlanta. After a bit, she got in a good roll and then settled down to eat hay.

For now, Phantom is staying in the dry lot which surrounds the barn. Lila is in the neighboring ring, so they’ve said hello a few times. (Elsie departed to a new home yesterday evening, so Lila has been lonely for the past 24 hours!) Tomorrow, I’ll turn Lila and Phantom out to pasture together. (Right now, that pasture is occupied by the lovely quarter horse mare of the guy who trailered Phantom out to Colorado. He’s spending the night in his live-in trailer before heading out tomorrow.)

I’m just amazed by how smoothly everything has gone with this purchase of Phantom. If I didn’t know better, I’d say that it was meant to be!

ATLOSCon… and a New Horse!

 Posted by on 30 May 2014 at 10:00 am  Animals, AtlosCon, Horses, Personal, Sports
May 302014
 

Last weekend, Paul and I headed to Atlanta for ATLOSCon, a weekend-plus conference produced by the Atlanta Objectivist Society. We couldn’t attend the whole conference due to conflicts in our schedule, but we greatly enjoyed ourselves nonetheless. So if you’re interested in Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism and you’d like to meet a slew of interesting, benevolent, and happy people, set aside Memorial Day of 2015 to attend! The conference just gets better every year, and new faces are very welcome.

Two days before heading to Atlanta, Martha Deeds suggested that I look at horses to buy there, as the pickings are very slim for thoroughbreds in Colorado. My reaction: “Uh uh uh…. OKAY!” I drove out to Conyers with Arthur Zey on Sunday evening to check out a just-off-track thoroughbred mare, and I liked her so much that I bought her!

She’s very forward, she’s built uphill, and she’s powered from behind. All of that is critical, but I fell in love with her big floating gaits and unflappable attitude, which you can see in this video:

I rode her too, of course — walk, trot, and canter. I even jumped her over a little crossrail a few times. She’s very, very green (i.e. inexperienced, untrained), but she’s also calm, sensible, and willing.

She only raced nine times. Apparently, she never took to it. Her race name is Phantom Opera. I don’t want keep that, although I like “Phantom.” I think I might compete her as “Phantom Luck,” but I’ll call her Phantom or Fanny (Phanny?) at home. Oh, and here’s her pedigree.

She’ll be mine — ALL MINE — when she arrives from Atlanta in just a few days! We’ll have lots and lots to learn together. Since she’s so recently off-track, I’ll be training her slow and easy for the next few months. (She needs to gain about 100 pounds too.) Meanwhile, I’ll continue to train and compete Lila, who will soon have a new friend!

Citronella Bark Collar

 Posted by on 10 May 2014 at 4:30 pm  Animals, Dogs, Personal
May 102014
 

Doggie Mae has a major addiction to laying about outside and periodically barking frantically at wildlife and passing neighbors… which is annoying. Today, I finally tried a citronella bark collar on her. Alas for her — but hooray for all nearby humans — this change has ruined all the fun of roaming about and barking. This morning, she asked to let inside, despite seeing that some very awful neighbor doggies were passing by on the trail. (!!) Right now, she’s happy to be inside, sleeping quietly.

Hooray! Clearly, I should have tried this with her years ago!!

In case you have a barking dog problem, here’s the collar that I bought: PetSafe Bark Collar. It says that it’s for small dogs, but it’s fine for large dogs too.

My policy is that I’m putting the collar on every time she goes outside, at least for the next few weeks. I hope that will change her behavior permanently, but she’s very smart, so I’m sure that she already knows that the collar is the source of her discomfort. So if she has to wear it every time she goes outside, so be it!

15 Fabulous Years!

 Posted by on 9 May 2014 at 4:00 pm  Marriage, Personal
May 092014
 

Paul Hsieh and I were married fifteen years ago today! The secret to our marriage is that I keep him in dinners and he keeps me in horses. Happy Anniversary, Mr Woo!

Rube Goldberg Machine of Animals

 Posted by on 6 May 2014 at 1:00 pm  Animals, Funny, Personal
May 062014
 

I witnessed an unexpected Rube Goldberg Machine of animals on Sunday morning.

Realizing that I was about to go outside to feed the horses, doggie Mae ran into the living room, dropped her ball, and chased it toward the kitchen table.

Doggie Conrad got excited and ran towards kitty Oliver, who jumped up on the cart on which I feed the cats.

Merlin, who was on the cart, jumped down and then up to the kitchen counter in a panic, sliding across the counter and knocking to everything… including the bowl of chicken covered by a dinner plate.

The dinner plate slide off the bowl and crashed onto the floor, breaking into many shards.

Then everyone calmed down… and the cleanup began.

Five Years with Doggie Conrad

 Posted by on 22 March 2014 at 10:00 am  Dogs, Personal
Mar 222014
 

On this day in 2009, Paul and I adopted Doggie Conrad. He was my present to myself for completing the first draft of my dissertation. He’s been a fabulous dog for us — friendly, loyal, and playful. I hope that he’s as happy over the next five years as he’s been for the past five years!

My Husband’s Secret Power

 Posted by on 18 March 2014 at 2:00 pm  Funny, Personal
Mar 182014
 

After SnowCon, those of us staying Chez Hsieh — meaning, Tom, Arthur, William, Paul, and me — played a game of Cards Against Humanity. Here were the result of one round:

The black card was the question that Paul posed… and Arthur (I think) gave him the white card as the possible answer. I laughed so hard that I nearly cried… because it’s just so damn perfect!

Feb 202014
 

I really enjoyed this article on the upside and downside of perfectionism: Is Perfectionism Growth-Minded? Here’s a tidbit:

According to Dweck, the research says there might be two kinds of perfectionism, and those two ways of behaving have drastically different outcomes for people both in accomplishing their goals and in how they feel about themselves. One kind of perfectionist tends to agree with statements like: “People will think less of me if I make a mistake;” and, “A partial failure is as bad as a complete failure.” Another kind of perfectionist agrees with these statements: “I try to do my best in everything I do.” “I am driven to be excellent.” “I strive for high standards.” In these responses we can hear echoes of the person-focused vs. process-focused fixed and growth mindsets.

In the past, I’ve tended to think of perfectionism in purely negative terms — as just the “perfectionism monster.” However, in light of the horse training that I’m doing here in Aiken, I’ve been rethinking that view, along very similar lines to the article.

In my riding, my explicit goal is to achieve “best practice” most of the time, and that requires having very high standards and not accepting less. So if I shouldn’t transition to canter unless I have a damn good walk, and I shouldn’t approach that fence unless I have the kind of canter I need. I don’t ever want to just slop through what I’m doing: either I do it seriously and well or not at all. That’s the approach of the amazing coach we’ve been working with, Eric Horgan, and I can already see the huge benefits of his approach. Plus, he’s perfectionistic in that way without ever being unrealistic or belligerent. (He does threaten to kill us on a regular basis, but only in a very friendly way!)

That kind of growth-oriented perfectionism need not come with beating myself up for mistakes, seeking to show off for others, hating to admit ignorance, or any of the other problems of the fixed mindset. (I’m still doing the first, but I’m working on it. Eric has been very kindly discouraging that.) Instead, this growth-oriented perfectionism requires a heck of a lot of patience. The goal isn’t just to get it done, but to wait until you’re properly prepared to do it right. Oh, you’ll need endurance too, because you’ll still make mistakes left and right.

Basically, I’m thinking of “perfectionism” as more of a moral amplifier — with an upside and a downside, depending on how and when it’s deployed — rather than as a vice or failure mode. That’s not a fully settled view: I’ll be thinking more about this as this month in Aiken draws to a close and once I return home. Still, I thought that tidbit worth sharing now.

A Quick Report from Aiken

 Posted by on 18 February 2014 at 10:00 am  Horses, Personal, Sports, Uncategorized
Feb 182014
 

Dear Everyone,

As you might have been able to tell from my lack of blogging, I’ve been a bit busy here in Aiken. Mostly, I’m on my feet from sunrise to sunset — riding horses, mucking stalls, feeding horses, moving horses, stacking hay, and so on. Then we often have lesson video to review in the evenings. (That’s very helpful, but also time-consuming.) Also, Aiken was hit hard by the ice storm last week. We were covered in an inch of ice, and our power and water were out for 4 days. (It was a god-awful mess!) Anyway, I don’t think I’ll be able to resume regular blogging until after SnowCon 2014 in mid-March.

Anyway, here’s a bit of video of me jumping Lila and Maria that I meant to post eons ago, but I’ve just not found the time until now. These were lessons from early this month — February 8th. These few fences were the culmination of a lesson’s worth of work at getting the proper canter into a fence. Watching them again just now, I can see that I need to do even more to get Lila into a collected canter, and I think we’re doing significantly better now. Still, this quiet balance over fences was a huge achievement a mere 10 days ago!

On Lila:

On Maria:

I’ll try to post more video, and perhaps some pictures from the ice storm, soon. Overall, I’m a bit worn out — particularly after yesterday’s lesson with Eric over cross-country fences. However, I’m learning and progressing like crazy, and I can’t wait to see what the next two weeks will bring!

Love and Cuddles from Aiken,

Diana Hsieh

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