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We Are Flying Solo

Showing posts with label technology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label technology. Show all posts

October 18, 2015

Help Me Help You! Sharing Struggles?

The almighty Google Webmaster has been telling me that there are many sharing fails occurring on the desktop version of our site.

Please help me quench the wails of anguish: I've tested both sets of sharing buttons in 3 browsers in both mobile & desktop platforms & can't seem to break it (make that ONE thing in my life that works).

Share your input so I can make everything better! Please add any relevant (or irrelevant, that's how we roll, after all...) info in the comments.

Do You Struggle With Sharing?

December 31, 2014

The Home Of Solaris Is Now Officially Solar!

Well, his part is, at any rate.


And despite the rambling of my previous post, heinously simple & working like a charm.  It all comes prewired, so you just stick the velcro where you want your boxes, slip the ring connectors on your battery terminal, & stuff the panel wires in their labeled ports.

Srsly.  Even laziness-enabled so you don't actually have to mount the panel until you feel like it!

You already saw the photos, so I give you this wonderful gift:  system features in live action.  You might at first wonder, why the heck would I want to watch that?

Because, my dear readers, particularly those who have visited for a while, know that I often forget that camera microphones are not selective.  So the ridiculous commentary at the ends of my videos is my special present to you.

From the woman who has few qualms about online dorkiness (plus it is a pretty cool gadget!), I present for your viewing entertainment:

There is even a button to push!!!  A BUTTON!

December 27, 2014

How To Put Some Solar Power In Your Fenceline (Without Taking On The Solar Charger Headache)

No, you may not steal my horse.  Solo is brilliant, but his charge is non-transferrable.

Why Did You Build It?

So they would come.  Duh.  And by "they," I mean photons.  Because photons are badass, right, my fellow physics nerd homies?

My lovely little Blackside Dace, c. 2003
I'm a conservation biologist by day, so my motivation for using truly alternative energy is fairly obvious.  My graduate research was in the hollers of SE KY, studying this fairytale rainbow of a fish, the federally threatened Blackside Dace.

This project put me face-to-face with mountaintop coal extraction, the horrors of valley fill (scary stuff, check out these photos), acid mine drainage, & the third-world poverty of communities left to rot once Big Coal mechanized everything.

After 10+ years in freshwater species conservation, I've also learned about the havoc wrought by hydropower dams via drowned ecosystems, natural communities decimated by unnatural flow patterns, & rivers run dry by upstream withdrawals.  Add in collapsed bat lungs & migratory birds who look like they've gone through a blender in the vicinity of wind farms and, well, it seems like you're damned if you do, damned if you don't.

I won't wander into the side topic of the many efforts to improve the latter few issues (nor my instense desire to hurl large rocks at "clean coal" billboards, *insert expletives here*).  Or the simple fact that there is no panacea.

Newly installed tape back in February 2014
I am also poor.  My farm on top of a Carolina hill has an abundance of sunshine & my Horseguard bipolar fence tape is amazing.  But it still needs electricity to convince Solo to stay on the desired side of the line.

Non-science geek translation:  I really wanted to use solar power because it's free (after setup) & is the only power generation source I'm aware of that, on my small scale, has no negative impacts (unless Iron Man is willing to share his arc reactor -- sorry, I can't even non-geek without geeking).  But all-in-one solar chargers with the durability & power to give the consistent charge you want over the years in varying weather are very, very expensive.

I'll save the technicalities to consider for another day, because the point (if I ever make it there) of this post is supposed to be "How To Make It So With Tools & Free Stuff & Hay String & Shit."

Well, it is a farm, we do have shit.

The previous set-up (& dumpster-diving validation!)
What You Need
  • One pre-existing battery-powered system:  mine = one Parmak Magnum 12 DC [battery]-powered fence charger connected to a heavy-duty deep cycle battery (hey, I still wasn't going to pay for power...).  
  • One quality solar panel & charge controller that is rated for more than 12V (see above reference to technicalities post) - guess what Awesome Mom got me for Xmas?!
  • Something to mount all this crap on, including a vertical or horizontal surface with good sun-exposure (preferably south-facing...unless you live in the Southern Hemisphere)
  • Best. BFF. Present. Ever.
  • TOOLZ!  If your charger is already in a good spot, just a drill & screwdriver to mount the panel (and that's only for eventual permament mounting, because they include options for temporary setup for indecisive people).  The panel kit I used even included screws & velcro.  Yes, velcro - they obviously get horse people.
  • Enough colour vision to distinguish red (positive) from black (negative) & enough literacy to match up the right wires with the little plus & minus signs.  Hee.  This is my third single panel installation; my first was at 22, so trust me, it's not rocket science!   
How To Do It
(My Way, Which Naturally Has Extra Steps; Easy Life Would Be Boring, Right?  RIGHT??)

A:  Know your sun/shadow patterns throughout the day.  Badass photons are powerless in shadow.

B:  Realize your current perfect battery/charger location & precision-engineered setup are conveniently close to...90% shadows after the morning.  And no way am I taking on mounting that panel 12' in the air on top of the run-in.
C:  Resign yourself to moving the charger to the opposite side of the run-in, within easy reach of 99% sunlight all day & a perfect mounting location on the back of the feed shed.  Of course.  You must only move...nearly everything you store there.

D:  Move the charger in just a few "simple steps:"

The new wall
(1) Install new custom Equi-Flooring material & rustic pre-assembled decorative Pallet Wall base unit .  For security, make sure your base unit is secured by AT LEAST four pieces of hay string.  This way, it will never, ever fall.  *snork*

(2)  Get creative!  That scrap of treated plywood Encore knocked down in an itching fit?  Provides perfect weather protection screwed on to the inside of the Pallet Wall.  In addition, you now have your surface ready to re-mount the charger, along with any additional parts.

It's aweeeesomeeee...
(3) Carry your specialized Battery Support System to its new location & you're set!

(4)  If you want to go wild, you can pull nails (& make sure you don't lose them thanks to your awesome new magnetic wrist wrap thingy) from some spare lumber & connect the Pallet Wall to, say, another solid object in case of hay string failure (even though we know this never happens).

Photon-ready, Captain! Yeah, there's a couple wires...
E:  Now that your original system is restored to "action-ready," stick (literally, I told you there was sticky velcro!) the solar charge controller & battery condition monitor in your desired arrangement.  Make sure the controller wires are within reach of your battery & the controller itself is within reach of the recommended wiring range for your solar panel (in this instance, 5 feet).

Controller (left) & monitor (below controller)
F:  Install your solar panel:  either in a temporary setup configuration if offered or mounted in its permanent location.  Remember that panels are designed for weather exposure, but NOT to be trod upon by humans or horses.  It's still glass!

G:  Wire the panel to the controller; this is as simple as connecting the positive & negative leads to the labelled holes.  Make sure the panel is covered at this time & NOT PRODUCING POWER WHILE YOU ARE FIDDLING WITH THE WIRING!  Safety is important, as is protecting your battery & charger.  (ok, I don't have a photo of this yet)

H:  Step back & dramatically spread your dust & sweat-smattered arms so you can loudly pronounce "TA-DAAAA!" to your horses, who couldn't care less.  But your fencing is now power-independent!!

Remind Me Of The Advantages Of Doing This?

The critical element, the controller, will prevent your panel from overcharging or draining your battery.  The condition monitor will let you test your battery whenever you like (for example, when you want to show your friends how you single-handedly harnessed badass photons to run your fence & keep your battery charged for free...just an example...).

No sun?  No problem:  my battery will run my charger on its own for over 30 days.  

That system will also keep your battery in better condition for a longer life, so you get to spend your valuable time & money -- playing with your horses, as you should be!!  

To be continued, so you shall be fully educated whether you like it or not, BWAHAHAHHAHA...

November 26, 2014

Join The Horse Blog Community Gift Exchange & Take A Live Equine Blog Tour!

Sorry for that bit on the left, the interwebz made me do it... 

BUT -- Fun Holiday Things To Share

If you missed it on our Twit/FB inanity, Fly On Over is hosting the 2nd Annual Equestrian Blogger Gift Exchange (I will not hide my fury that I missed out last year) -- and your sign-up is due this Friday, Nov. 28th!!
Not Only The Fun Of Gift-Giving But...MOAR PONEH PICTURES!

Ok, I'll confess, I do not quite know what a live blog tour is yet, but that didn't stop me from signing up!  If you have a blog to share or otherwise want to participate, the amazing Kristen from If The Saddle Fits has posted a signup in (a FB group that is growing rapidly) Blogging From The Barn.  You can also click the image for a direct link.
She even makes it so pretty...
It could happen...
I've already discovered a couple of great new-to-me blogs, including the lovely, crisp design of Hand Gallop (warning: may scar your memories of My Little Ponies temporarily...) & this hilarious contribution from The Maggie Memoirs (who also gets mad props for eventing her painted Mustang/Arab, way to be part of the 'I refuse to be conventional' club, yeah!!!!).  Watch out, the latter may cause moisture to explode out of your face onto your keyboard.

November 9, 2014

My Webmaster Sucks

Can you hear me now??

To be fair, I think Google messes with things sometimes just to see if you're paying attention.  I did all these nice repairs in September, including a self-lecture on, erm, paying attention to your own software.  I swear, a check box unchecked itself though!!

  • Those damn sharing links at the bottom of the post
  • I got my comment replies working, woot!!!
I'd also be oh-so-grateful if you'd share any problems you have in the poll (look to your left!).  If there's something not listed, your comments are wonderfully helpful!

I've also made the Official We Are Flying Solo User's Guide a permanent fixture in the top menu (just look up and to your right!), so if you are a new visitor, or, like me, forget your name on a daily basis...

That's right, I pushed it!

September 8, 2014

Repair Notes From Your Dedicated Webmaster

The worst three digits online...
Your rage is my sorrow. 

Blogger has this nifty site called Webmaster Tools.  Included here are logs of links that don't work & retrieval errors that have occured on your website.  With the well-organized "help" links & detailed activity breakdowns, it's fantastic!

If you remember to check it more than once every six months.  Or, say, after a major redesign.

Mea culpa.  Again.

After choking on my guilt at the long column of "action blocked" notices, particularly for smartphones (but hey, aren't they supposed to be smart??!), I buckled down in the repair shop.  

  • Sharing links at the bottom of each post
  • Search function access for mobiles
  • Several scripts that were dragging down load time
Probably Broken In The Process:
  • Something else
I also primarily work in Firefox, so please do let me know if you have problems in other browsers or platforms.  Opening the site in Chrome today, the Adblock plugin (which behaves perfectly fine in Firefox) decided my social media icons were BAD THINGZ & blocked them all...except one.

Computers:  less expensive than horses, but more rage-inducing.

September 2, 2014

A Hitchiker's Guide To Our New Website

Hated the book, but I was 13...
Being one of those people who takes longer than I will ever admit to mentally digest information, a thought just occurred to me:

Here I have thrown an entire new interface at you and, while I'm sure you have lots of things nothing better to do with your time than play with the shiny new TFS site, perhaps it would be helpful if I handed out instructions!

As I mentioned before the transition, our new site is responsive (FINALLY!).  You can geek out on the link as to what that means in detail (believe me, the template came that way, I am a "trial-and-lots-of-errors-and-googling" programmer, using the word "programmer" extremely loosely), but the part that matters is that for you touchscreen/mobile device peoples, you now get a streamlined, mobile version of the site that matches the web version!

What On Earth Did You Do?

Don't hyperventilate yet, the standards are still standard - the trademark banner of Solo's galloping butt will always bring you home (oh, the levels of symbolism...) and our social media buttons, through which you can suffer through enjoy even more of my random brain drool, have just hopped up to the top of the page.  All photos can still be clicked to embiggen!

Streamlined Sidebars

You can toggle the right sidebar display -- I love tabz!!
All our trusty sidebar widgets are intact, just rearranged.  You'll find our calendar for easy stalking on the left & the blogroll (in need of updating!) just below it as you scroll down.

On the right side, just beneath the search tool (for all your "did she write about that?" inquiries), the handy little tab box allows you to toggle between the most popular posts of the last 30 days, our category labels for easy post sorting, & the (restored to proper useful form) archive calendar.  Scrolling down will take you to our familiar blog community links & the profiles of my orange beasts have just shifted to the footer.


Here, the title is linked to my review, photo to product site
The Photo Slider:
Don't have a seizure.  If you hover your mouse over the slideshow, it will pause.  You can use either the circles at the base of the slider or the arrows on each side to navigate through at your own speed.  Each photo & title is a clickable link as well!

Email Subscription:
  • For those of you who don't use an RSS reader to curate your blog collection or who just don't feel like clicking all the time, there is now an easy email subscription box in our header.  All you have to do is enter your address & click subscribe.  New posts, in a clean, easy-to-read format, will hang out in your inbox until you hit delete feel like reading them. 
  • I hate spam as much as you do & all of the subscriptions are protected in my secure account, so I promise I will never send you FREE LIFE INSURANCE QUOTES TODAY!  Never.  
  • What you WILL get though (eventually, stupid job), is free bonus content that I am busy compiling, including tip sheets, useful facts, and other fun & useful goodies (sorry, I cannot put chocolate in your inbox).
It was an interesting morning...
Twit Feed:
Despite my ambivalence/hate relationship with Twitter, it is the only way I can share quick tidbits to our Facebook page without being in front of a PC.  I bitterly swallowed my pride (it wasn't too bad, I haven't much left), so you will find a live Twitter feed box in the right sidebar.  It also allows you to follow or tell me I'm an idiot throw a Twit at me with one click (no new windows!).

New Menus With New Options

Some you will recognize, including links to our core team members, sundry horsey items for sale, Solo's story, Encore's arrival, & "In Memorial" of furry friends who said goodbye.  My product reviews are intact, but are now categorized for even easier retrieval.
All your shopping tips, pre-sorted

The two new dropdowns:
  • "Education," which includes a list of great OTTB resources, as well as links to my past post collection on topics like equine nutrition & the heart of eventing, the long format.  Keep an eye out for additions and fine-tuning on this one!
Lots of fun things & more to come
 I hope you will enjoy the new goodies & things will run a little more smoothly!  I'm always picking at things -- a blog seems to be like a farm:  never truly finished.  Please do let me know if you encounter any issues, so I can google the answer repair them right away!

You're welcome (or I'm sorry, depending on what happens...).
-- Not A Web Designer But I Play One On The Internet

August 16, 2014

Red Alert: Change Is Afoot

Danger, Will Robinson!!

Yes, I know, change is scary, but this one is long overdue & very exciting.

How about I leave you hanging a bit longer...?


Didn't you just do that? 

You're right, it wasn't terribly long ago when I implemented the current design.  However, it's time for me to admit that, despite endless fussing, I've never been that happy with it.  The deal-breaker was when I found I'd made a  mistaken assumption and it's not responsive.  Boo.  (Just because I hate touchscreens doesn't mean I want to punish the millions of  you who use them!!)

So hold on to your bucking straps.  There are still a few details to finesse, although my beta-testers have given the thumbs-up.  But I think it's going to be a smoother ride.

May 31, 2014

Farm Ownership = Endless Discoveries

To those who follow us on social media, these little “surprises” may sound familiar.  For the rest of you slackers wonderful people, here lies the confession that I really have abandoned the last shred of my dignity:  I made a hashtag in Twitland.  *so much shame*  I had such noble oaths (once the little pound signs were explained to me) that I would never become one of Those People.  At least it wasn’t a big fall.  Does it make it any better if searching for my own hashtag only finds two of them – even the internet is embarrassed for me…

Yes, I even make stupid faces while driving tractors
After I began living at the farm, though, it didn’t take long for these little moments unique to home horse-keeping to pop up.  Even those which elicited “not-family-friendly” exclamations made me laugh knowing that I was not likely the first (nor the last) to have the experience (with no small bit of incredulity, as in “was I really that stupid again!?).  What choice did I have, really, for sharing on the go?  (justification!)  And so the tag was born.      

For my pasture-mowing peers, both newly-minted and counting-the-decades, I know you KNOW.  I think we can all learn something (in most cases, “Don’t do that.”).

I present for your entertainment (and as a gift, corrected for the horrific grammar that is cruelly forced on me by that 120 character limit):

But...teh pretteh...can't go inside
  • Yay! When you forget to take off your half chaps & spurs, you just leave them at back door for next time!
  • Doh! My self-draining hose setup DOES work. And can siphon 1/2 the tank before I notice if I forget to remove the hose.
  • 0.o  That "simple" project in your head that you can "quickly" cobble together?  Just don't.
  • Oops. Put on work uniform fleece AFTER throwing am hay.
  • Yay! Your horses always appear at the gate when you come out the back door-it might be feeding time!
Wear real shoes to kick
  • Oh, hai, neighbour’s excavator driving past my living room!
  • Oops. Right when you think you’re a tractor badass, you get the drag caught on your tape fence.  :/
  • A good hose quick-connect is THE SHIT.
  • You never go inside on a pretty night. "Just one more thing!"
  • Never say "They won't go anywhere, they'll just eat grass."  :/
  • You can hike a 3-acre pasture in slippers.  In the dark.
  • Once you start pulling dead plants from along a fenceline, you can't stop.  So...hungry...

Low:  You DO need it!
  • That moment you realize you don’t even have to put on pants to feed. Note:  did not practice. But i could.
  • You never knew how much you needed the tractor...till it was gone.
  • You are late for work...because you get stuck staring out your windows at the awesome.
  • You can't kick a 3-pt hitch very hard in flip flops.
  • Oh, that’s what low gear is for!
  • Feeling shitty? Move your chair.
  • Going to a clinic and I don’t even have to start the truck! #greatneighbors
  • You're not really bush-hogging ‘til you bend a fencepost with the loader. #Fml
A good chair view = therapy
Share what you've screwed up discovered – maybe I can avoid a future *facepalm* or two, my head is getting sore! 

May 1, 2014

I Never Really Wanted A Farm

Delima & I survey Snowy River country in Victoria, Australia


I have spent the majority of my life in and around all manner of farms, from California to Arizona to Kentucky to Australia to Wisconsin to Ecuador (ahhh, I need to finish that series!) to the Southeast, from the dirt lot behind a house to managing a neighbour's private barn to closing sliding doors that cost more than my truck.  My manure fork dug out pee spots in old clay-based stalls in the '90s and I stacked frozen water buckets in the heated viewing room during turnout and I dragged full muck buckets in a sled over 8" of snow and ice to the pile...uphill. 

Sure, I could strip a stall and return it to pristine condition in less than 15 minutes and I learned how to leave a hose so it always drained itself and I found out where you should NEVER put your gate/trough/shelter/riding area/feed and I even learned how to manage your chores so you had plenty of ride time.  But I also learned that being responsible for the maintenance of your horses' living quarters was more hard work than even some of the most experienced boarders could imagine.

Invasive flathead catfish, bad!!  They be eatin' our natives!

Board It Is!

We all know that the perfect boarding facility is as tangible (and accessible to us mere mortals) as the Jabberwocky; if you don't own it, compromises are required, but with research and experience you can generally find something that's a good fit for you and your partner(s).  In fact, SprinklerBandit recently did an excellent job discussing "How to be a Happy Boarder"!

If you've read this blog for a while, you know that I work full time and then some as a freshwater wildlife biologist, which means I travel weekly from April to November, my schedule changes every hour during field season based on weather, I'm a crabby cat lady who guards her personal space like a troll (hee), and oh yeah, I work for the state.  When you combine incredibly poor career choices ('follow your dreams', they said, haha, ok, I'm partly kidding, I couldn't do anything else, it's my passion) that produce tiny paychecks for long work-weeks with the amazing insane financial priorities of a horse owner, well, it's easy to see why farm ownership was never on my "want" list.

It All Falls Apart

 But three years ago, everything changed.  2011 began a rather spectacular series of "events," a word which doesn't even approach adequacy, that culminated in my own personal nadir (thank you, Mrs. Bricking - my equally terrifying & incredible high school English teacher for two years - I never thought I'd get to use that one in conversation) when my entire future disappeared in a single sentence in early November of 2012.  That's another story for another day.

Skipping a few details, the spring of 2013 found me blundering about the metaphorical woods for a new path forward.  Or any direction really, as long as it was away from the bottom of the hole.  Enter (after exhaustive mathematical exercises) a fateful ride on a mule (the kind with wheels) at the height of a beautiful Carolina spring and the rest is in the record books.

I write Twits...the apocalypse must be nigh!

Mission:  Reboot

The most surprising part?  Once we settled in, I have loved every. single. moment.  Always skeptical of those goofy "backyard horse ladies" on COTH and the dubious claims that they would never board again, I've had to eat all my doubts now that I stand in their shoes muck boots.  I have less time to write rambling masterful blog posts, so those who follow us on Facebook and, to my everlasting shame, Twitter, have noticed that I am beginning to rely on their forced brevity and immediacy for updates (those who don't, you are clicking "follow" or our sidebar buttons now, right???).  And I am so grateful that I am an uncompromising planner and I held out, because I would NOT want to try to do this on a property I did not lay out for maximum efficiency.  That's another story too!

I still have a long way to go, both in terms of healing and of the "30-year farm plan," and I don't think I can afford diesel until 2019, but it's all a little easier when I dissolve into giggles watching the horses gallop for the sheer joy of it in their own game of "Let's Pretend We're Terrified Of The Mower So We Can Squeal And Run."  Note:  don't forget to glance in front of your mower periodically to see if you are about to drive into a ditch.  Just sayin'...

March 21, 2014

Notes From The Madhouse

Be forewarned:  an unbelievably horrific three day long work assault meeting has left many brains crippled, so sense is not to be expected in any of the following statements.  And I hope CHP doesn't mind me borrowing a couple of their awesome graphics!

Dancing Dining With The Stars
TFS will be packing up and heading south this evening to participate in the long-awaited and tantalizingly star-studded Carolina International CIC*** and Horse Trial entrance onto the world stage!  Not only is it a qualifier for the 2014 Adequan Gold Cup series, but it brings a spotlight to our very favourite competition grounds, the Carolina Horse Park, about which I've written so many times.

Bruce Sr., Torrence Watkins, J. Michael Plumb, Karen Stives, and The Wofford
Alongside BFF and Solo's (hopeful) new minion (oh, what should her nickname be???  Blog Stalker?  No, that sounds too negative, although I love blog stalkers -- She Who Longes Children?  LOL), I'll just call her Erica, for goodness sake, we shall oogle and analyze the FEI*, **, and *** XC riders as jump judges.  If you haven't checked out the entry list already, well, what, do you live under a rock????!  Becky Holder Event Team, Colleen Rutledge, Kate Chadderton, Jan Byyny (currently sitting in first place after a lovely dressage test -- follow the link for video), our Carolina Will's, Faudree and Coleman, our new 'neighbour', Doug Payne, along with Arthur and Tate and Shiraz and Teddy and Wundermaske and William Penn and Pirate and Catch A Star and...dinner with the 1984 Gold Medal LA Olympic Team (Jimmy Wofford, Bruce Davidson, Karen Stives, Michael Plumb, and Torrance Watkins)!!! *fangirl implosion* And many many more eventing friends and 'family' that, well, we are hoping will wander by our chair on their coursewalks, because frankly, judging 300+ horses, I can tell you from experience, doesn't leave a lot of time for social calls.

(left) Can't Fire Me (Teddy) watches as Courageous Comet gives Dad a lesson at the winter farm in 2013; I bet I won't catch Teddy lying down on Saturday!

Related Online Crap
To the best of our ability, TFS will be live-tweeting (oh my cod, I'm so embarrassed I just typed that) from the event tomorrow, so you probably want to go ahead and follow us now so you don't miss out on the unmatched randomness and hilarious dorkiness that is our trademark!  Oh yeah, and The Becky StalkingI've also started a series of sometimes exciting, sometimes ironic, always entertaining #farmownerdiscoveries, as those of you who follow us on Facebook have probably discovered.  Like/follow/click/tap (take your pick from our media shortcuts in the sidebar) and join the insanity!  

Flying Solo Farm Stage:  Implementation
Crossties are up and fence tape is charged and mats are down and feed is stored and neighbours are supplied with excessive amounts of emergency contact information.  The door, my friends, at long last, is not only open, but strewn with bits of hay and mud and cat hair.  In addition, speaking of cats, one of them puked on the carpet recently, so I guess it's definitely home now. 

Blogger Mental Health & Plans For The Spring Season
The former is long lost.  The latter:  try not to starve, dream of times when you could purchase diesel, fatten up orange bellies after move stress shrinkage, remember how to ride a horse, learn our new trails, annoy visit with new neighbours...

And above all else, drink in the moonrise over MY east line of oak trees while a grey fox yips, at least four species of frogs sing across the pond, a great-horned owl greets the stars, and a brown bat makes adorable swoops after the first tiny insects of the year.  Through the bone-deep fatigue, those long-missed melodies are indeed balm for a great many things. 

Sunset over our creek pasture

January 16, 2014

So, There's Water Polo, How About Water Eventing?

I should probably just keep a snorkel in my truck at this point.  Even the reservoirs can't hold any more and soil that "never gets muddy" is oh so muddy.  My neighbour tells me he has never seen it this saturated, so at least now I know what to plan for.  He may be regretting selling me his high spots now...

A few of you have noticed, but out of random curiosity, I have placed a poll for you in the sidebar directly above the social media buttons.  Tell me how you get your "fresh reading material" updates and how you follow along with your favourite bloggers!

Since no story ever gets to just wrap up smoothly, despite the fact that they've started power line work and I should have electricity in two weeks (yay!), complications abound.  An insulation subcontractor who for some bizarre reason uses a single-axle dump truck (suspected to be made of lead) with a tarp over it instead of a box truck, wandered up my (completely soaked) farm driveway with half the truck off the edge, resulting a lovely mud slop.  Duly added to list for builder of "things contractors messed up" -- it is a short list, and I think an unavoidable one, but no less annoying for all of that.

The lump mid-cannon on the outside front
With perfectly synchronized timing as my financial assets hit rock bottom until my old house sells (soooo....close....), my truck decides that it might like a couple of new injectors or a driver module.  While it occasionally misfires on a couple of cylinders, I hope against hope it's a $10 wiring harness instead (yeah right), but as long as it is sporadic, after consultation with diesel mechanic, it's fine to keep driving.  It still runs so I waved goodbye and pleaded with My Precious to just be patient, as mom doesn't have $900 to feed you right now.

Feeling left out of the fun, Encore popped a lateral splint, which I discovered on Sunday.  Probably being silly in the pasture.  On the plus side, it's cold, hard, not painful and he shows no lameness while walking and uh, leaping on a packed dirt road.  I consult with Dr. Bob and monitor closely, pleading some more that it's just one of those cosmetic ones.  Just don't start limping!  At least we won't be doing much in the next couple weeks (of mud).

The reason all this is so well-timed is that the state gives this lovely little holiday gift to its employees.  We normally are paid on the last working day of the month.  However, in December, the paycheck comes in two weeks early, before the Xmas holidays.  Which means you get six whole weeks to freak out relax and practice your planning skills until January's check appears.  Two more weeks, two more weeks...


January 7, 2014

When Bloggers Collide

It appears there were multiple horse-y blogger holiday road trips from Texas to North Carolina (um, because this is where it's at, hello!) at the end of the 2013 and one of them resulted in a close encounter!

Like, REALLY close!
With a little coordination, I had the distinct pleasure of finally getting to meet jenj from Wyvern Oaks and her husband, Sean (dude, they joust AND event, I mean, c'mon).  If you follow Jen's blog, you know 2013 was a true F-you from the universe year for them and she and I have chatted often through gmail about the heartbreak and poverty of horses.  But we also have shared the magic and the irreplaceable joy they bring with them. 

If you have not seen her new and adorable-to-an-illegal-level partner, Paddington the Haffie, you need to go check out his blond charmingness now (he's kinda hard to miss)!!!  Oh, and her husband was nice too.  (*wink* TFS loved you, Sean!!!)  And they are movie commericial stars now!

Sean photographs Jen photographing Encore mugging the carrot lady.
Awesome Jen, the most bestest Solo, and the most dorkiest me (I love my llama hat, I found it in Ecuador!  Solo not-so-covertly checks to see where that 5-lb bag of carrots went.

Speaking of getting together with other bloggers and sharing laughs (hey, it's better than crying), I discovered several changed and new networks for horse bloggers that you may have noticed in my sidebar (that I'm still working on, arg!).  There is still the great Haynet, but there is a new group just starting on Google+ (I know, BUT interwebz rumours are that FB is on its way out for businesses/marketing and G+ is gaining ground) -- join Horse Blogger's Network and help make it awesome!

Many of you probably already know the Horsebloggers group, which I THOUGHT I was a part of.  However, it appears they have updated their site and I found I was no longer on the list, horrors!  So head over and check, you may need to re-add your blog to the directory.

Happy blogging and here's to sound horses and a COMPLETELY UNEVENTFUL (hear that, universe???!!) 2014!

December 16, 2013

TFS Is Getting All Social And Crap

If you haven't noticed my shameless (ok, there's a little shame, but whatever) caving to the interwebz, TFS has been exploring different types of social media.  Results have varied.

I'm An Official Twit
I'm not a particularly avid fan of Twitter, but I do have an account, primarily because I was reading tweets from The Shatner for a while (don't judge, he is hilarious!), so it is linked to my Google account & primarily operates in an automated fashion.  I suck at thinking of short, pithy comments & kind of still don't understand the point....  But it WILL tell you when something really important happens, like new posts!

Ummm, yeah, this  may have been me...
Pinterest:  Internet Heroin

I feel significantly less shame about my recent peek into Pinterest.  I honestly did not understand what or why or how the heck it even worked.  Or why anyone with any semblance of organizational desire & limited time would even try to mire through the seemingly infinite scrolls of image tiles.  But it found one of my critical weaknesses:  visual addiction

Why do you prey on my soft spots, interwebz?  But I will step up & own it & you can find buttons to all of our ridiculous self-marketing of dorkiness and equine obsession accounts right up top.  Our Facebook and Youtube links are still there, as well as G+ since apparently Google adds that by default in some delusion that more than 12 people use it.  Plus you can now subscribe to our feed by email & shun the weird world of RSS!

What, did you not want my random blog to be part of every aspect of your life?  Travesty!

December 9, 2013

I Promise It Will Be Over Soon!

Ok, so bringing TFS into something close to 2014 has been a teeensy bit more involved than I thought. Something akin to a first grader deciding to read Dostoyevsky. It made RSS look like "See Spot Run." *insert crossed eyes here*

Feel like this?
Truly, my deepest apologies for any confusion, broken things, and craziness you may have witnessed. For the unintentional beta-testers, I hope you will forgive a rainy weekend's nibble that turned into a choking incident.

If not, errrr, nothing to see, move along...

As a woman who hates change, it probably seems (is) insane that I jumped into it at all. I'm still not crazy about the whole thing, and there are still pieces to find, delete, tweak...once I can poke around in the alphabet soup of template code and even find which bits go together. Let's just say that "revert changes" is an excellent button.

But along with the unveiling of the new logo, all of Blogger's changes (they did it first!) and my trial-and-error revamping and embiggening of our feed and social integration (hey, it doesn't mean I have to do the latter in real life), I learned that there have been a lot of changes to blog and search world since 2008, which is when our last template code was written. So off I merrily went, messed everything up, and now am finally getting close to returning things to a semblance of working order.

The claim is that the new code-set is more widely compatible, as is the new feed, enabling even email subscriptions, more browser support, and, say, a search box that actually WORKS with Blogger's new format.

So, hopefully, I won't have to say it again, but please alert me to any issues you may have with the main tabs or article displays. Stupid floaty label boxes and things in weird places...I'm still working on it. Here's to leaping in to ideas merely half-developed...

December 2, 2013

What Do I Do With That Orange Rainbow (RSS) Thingy? Tech Time-Out

RSS feeds:  many of you may have heard of them, some not, but they have become a huge part of following blogs, podcasts, and other chronologically (sporadically, in my sad case) updated online media.  Now I've made that first link to the Wikipedia definition page, which is a good overview, but also in places, an eye-crosser.  So I shall, in true self fashion, elaborate excessively.

TL;DR version:  RSS for Dummies

That is a great, simple article that I wish I had found a long time ago!!  But I wanted to include a couple of details so that you will be able to fulfill your extreme desire to successfully use the TFS feed.  Heh.  Small bonus:  it will now show my blog title normally and take away the annoying code and/or right justification when it shows up on other pages, like your blogroll, if you redo the subscription.

This is what you will see in the upper right.
Having even more cruelly linked my Blogger account to Feedburner (nope, don't really understand that either), I know (because it has happened to me many, many times) that you will click the RSS button, it will take you to the feed page, and some of you will go, WTF do I do now?  Being intelligent horse people, you will probably figure it out the same way I did -- click things and see what happens.  Not to take away from your exploration, but if you'd like, I can spare you the trouble!  Note:  if you are already subscribed, you have to do... nothing, because you are already awesome.  Unless the title formatting, as mentioned above, annoys you and you want to fix it.

When you click the rainbow, you have three simple choices.

(1)  If you use one of the feed readers shown in the icons or the dropdown menu, select, click, you should be set.

(2)  If you use a reader NOT shown (as I do), click the "View Feed XML."  On the next page, at the top,  you will see yet another dropdown list, which will allow you to select or navigate to your reader.  Select the one you like, decide if you want it to be your default reader for subscriptions, then just "Subscribe Now!"

(3)  If you are a lazy person like me and don't like to click and puzzle through 20 things, most mainstream readers have an option in their settings menu to add a simple "Subscribe" button to your browser bar, so you just click it while you are reading the blog, it automatically finds the page's feed, and adds it to your subscription list.  Like so in the reader I use:

I use the top "Bookmarklet."  You literally just drag it to your bookmark bar.  That is all.
I consider myself at an intermediate level of capability when it comes to using the interwebz to do what I want.  Basic HTML coding and reading (even rudimentary tables), multimedia types, uses, and storage, linking and organizing data, using FTP, all of these are fine.  Need a simple blog header that doesn't take up 2 screens?  I got ya covered.

Do the thingz I want, stupid internetz!!
However, I haven't the first clue how to use CSS, I am not a webmaster, I can't do servers. 

But back to RSS feeds:  I basically understand what they are, but the terminology and specifics still confuse the living crap out of me.  Totally.  Which probably makes you ask, then why the heck did you just add an RSS button to your blog (that's what the orange rainbow is), dork?

Because, even without really knowing it, almost everyone who reads online uses these feeds now.  Google Reader, RIP, was an excellent and very popular example of an RSS reader, which is any piece of software which gathers all the feeds you subscribe to and remembers and organizes them for your convenient reading, bookmarking, deriding, what have you.  I have found a new one I am very happy with, although it is sometimes a bit slow to load, called InoReader.  What I like is that it looks and works very similarly to Google Reader.  I hate change, harumph.

There are hundreds of other readers out there to fit all different types of devices, systems, and user preferences, so these days, it's pretty easy to search and find the one that's right for you.

Good luck, happy reading, and again, please feel free to email or comment with any issues or questions!  Unless you are trying to use it on an iPhone.  Then, bless your heart, don't bother, I don't do Apple.