Thursday, December 29, 2011

Go See War Horse

This is a good movie.

I was apprehensive about seeing it.  I'm glad I did.

It is full of life, death, joy, and sadness.  There is grief, loss, hope, cowardice, bravery, cruelty, kindness, fear, and friendship.  A little of everything.

And of course, there are horses.

There is a lot of action, a lot of war.  You know that from the title.  Some scenes may be tough to watch if you are like me, an amiable person who does not like conflict.   Just say to yourself over and over: it is just a movie.

It is sprinkled with humor, which I appreciated very much.

I liked it.

Go see War Horse.

I heard the movie provokes some discussion about war.  That's true.

The story is set during World War I.  Seated next to me in the theater was a World War II veteran.  After the movie, while the credits were rolling, his granddaughter asked him, "Grandpa, was that how it was for you in World War II?"  He replied, "No, we didn't fight in the trenches."  She asked, "Did you use horses?"  He said, "No, we used artillery."

My husband and I had an interesting discussion on the drive home about the raw brutality of trench warfare, and about the emergence of  tanks and big guns; the absence of air combat. 

Take some tissue with you.  Steven Spielberg is a master at tugging on heart strings.

Go see War Horse.

To coin a phrase, I give it two thumbs up.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

All in a Day's Work

Work has kept me very busy and away from the Blogosphere.  I hope you all are doing well and I'm sorry I'm behind on reading your blogs.  I'm looking forward to taking next week off and catching up on your blogs and enjoying the holiday season at home.

Speaking of work...this is the electronic whiteboard my work group uses so our boss can keep track of us.   We had a snowstorm last night and into this afternoon and everyone who is not on vacation  chose to work from home today. 

I bet you can tell which icon represents me on the whiteboard.

Funny story about the bank robber icon.  It belongs to our boss.

One Monday morning Wiley Coyote came into the office and found a surprising voice message awaiting him.  We all gathered around his phone to listen and were quite shocked.   It was a conversation amongst  three bank robbers who didn't realize they were being recorded.  There was a lot of static and garbled words, but we heard them talking excitedly about a large amount of cash.  The male robber said, "Here, count the money" and we heard another start counting "One hundred, two hundred, three hundred.....this is a lot of money!"   We heard the male in charge clearly exclaim, "We're bank robbers!".   Then a female said, "I've got the cash between my legs."

Wiley Coyote called the police.

A uniformed officer came to our office and went to Wiley Coyote's desk (he sits right next to me) and listened to the recording and said, "Don't erase that.  I'm going to call a couple of  Dicks to come listen to this."  No kidding, that's really what he said. 

Within the hour two plain clothes detectives showed up at Wiley Coyote's desk.  They listened to the voice message several times, recorded it on a device of their own, and asked Wiley Coyote lots of questions like:
  • Do you recognize the phone number?  (The voicemail system had recorded the incoming cell phone number)
  • Do you recognized any of the voices?
  • Do you know anyone who might commit a crime like this?
  • Where do you live?
  • How long have you worked here?
  • Who has your work number? 
  • Who calls you at this number?
There had been a string of bank robberies in our city and the latest one had occurred that very weekend.  This was quickly becoming a hot lead.

The detectives left but soon returned, escorted by the facility manager to our boss' office this time.  They had discovered the caller's cell phone belonged to our boss!   It was getting late and one by one we each left to go home, wondering what was going on behind our boss' closed door.  Could our boss be a bank robber?    He doesn't seem like the type.  But how well do any of us really know the people we work with day-in and day-out? Or maybe his cell phone had been stolen during the weekend and used by the bank robbers.

The next day we were relieved to see our boss arrive at the office. 

He told us the detectives asked him lots of questions and then asked him to listen to the recording.   They asked him if he recognized the voices.  He didn't recognize any of the voices.  Then they asked him if he had lost his cell phone.  He said no, he had it with him.  They asked if they could have his cell phone and look at his call history.  He handed it over to them, unsure of why he was being questioned.  They showed him the call history that listed a call to Wiley Coyote's office number on Saturday.  Our boss was dumbfounded.  They asked him if he had loaned his cell phone to anyone.  No, he had it with him all weekend.  Then the detectives asked our boss to tell them exactly what he did on Saturday.  He said, " wife and my son and I went to the Mazda dealer to look at cars.  Then we went to the bank and withdrew some cash to purchase a car, and then we went back to the dealership...."  Then the light bulb went on. 

Our boss had his cell phone in his pocket and it accidentally "butt-dialed" Wiley Coyote's desk phone number in the contacts list as he and his family were walking to their car in the bank parking lot.  The voice messaging system picked up and recorded the conversation between our boss, his wife, and their young son a they got into their car and began driving back to the car dealership.   They handed the cash to their son in the back seat  so he could practice counting in hundreds.  What wasn't recorded clearly was their young son asking, "Can anyone walk into a bank and ask for all this money?"   His dad jokingly replied, "No, we're bank robbers!"   Our boss said it's a good thing the voice message ended before we all heard his reply when his wife said she had the cash between her legs.

This happened during a very busy, stressful time at our office and we all appreciated the good laugh.  One of my co-workers replaced our boss' white board image of Mr. Slate (Fred Flintstone's boss) with the bank robber image and it has stuck.

The string of local bank robberies came to an end and I don't recall if they ever caught the real bandits.

Wiley Coyote is still employed, although we teased him that he shouldn't expect a raise this year.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

These Birds Aren't Angry

Not to be confused with Angry Birds, these birds are their lesser known cousins, the Chilly Birds.  Maybe if they had their own video game to star in, they'd have a reason to move around and warm up.  Poor things.  They didn't look very happy this morning when I snapped this picture from my kitchen window.

Birds Chillin' in the Pasture.
Today was cold and windy, but yesterday was sunny with temps in the mid-50sF and no wind.  A perfect day for a ride.  I couldn't pass it up, especially with today's snow storm in the forecast.  So I took a long lunch and ran home and rode Misty in circles around the house for 30 minutes.  I'm so glad I did that.  Chances to ride are rare this time of year. 

Colder temperatures are on the way.  I was planning to take Misty to a clinic this coming Saturday, but the clinician has rescheduled.  Our high on Saturday may not even make it to 20F.  Even an indoor arena won't compensate for temps that low and students don't learn well when they are shivering.  It's too bad we have to reschedule, but I'm relieved.  I really don't like being that cold.

I'm trying to seize any chance to ride in an indoor arena this winter.  A few weeks ago I summoned my inner cowgirl and took Misty to cattle sorting practice, just so I could pay to ride in the indoor arena where the event was held.  It was great to simply ride around in the arena with other horses and riders, but we actually did get to take a couple shots at sorting.  This was only our 2nd time in the presence of cattle.  My first sorting  attempt, I couldn't get the assigned cow separated at all. After 60 seconds, I deferred to my partner who didn't have any luck either.  It was like the heifer was attached to her herd mates with Velcro.  The 2nd time my partner and I each sorted 3 of the 7 and got those 6 in the other pen within the 2 minute time period.  I'm not interested in speed or whether we are successful at sorting.  Misty's not built like a quick-on-her-feet cow pony.  I just wanted to spend time with my mare and get some exposure and experience with cattle.

I was very pleased with Misty. During one of the cattle changes, I was expecting the cows to come down the center of the arena and out the door to their holding pens.  I placed Misty in one of the corners of the arena near the exit, facing the center of the arena so we could see the cows coming.  They decided to drive them down the side of the arena this time and it startled me when suddenly 7 cows went running right around Misty's butt.  But Misty didn't even flinch.  She continues to amaze me at how she has matured and gained confidence this year.  I love my mare.