Monday, January 26, 2009

Stop Horse-Drawn Carriages....

After I finally bought (and installed) my new digital converter on my TV, I started getting a new awesome channel that's all documentaries. This weekend I watched a short half-hour show all about Horse Drawn Carriages in New York City. It was very well done, and so revealing! I can't believe I didn't know about this stuff! I've never taken a carriage ride myself, but I always thought that it seemed wrong somehow that carriages were allowed to walk the streets with cars whizzing by all the time. Here's only a few of the things I learned while watching:

- There is no protection from speeding cars for the animals OR passengers of the carriages (so if you're on a ride, you will be flung out).

- So far there have been no human casualties, but numerous horses have been killed or put down because of an accident.

- Horses are "prey" creatures (as opposed to "predators") so they spook very easily. They shouldn't be surrounded by loud noises, or anything that could cause them stress (sirens, traffic, pedestrians, etc).

- The horses are literally stored in stalls that leave them no room to lie down (and yes, horses do need to lie down to sleep sometime). They're warehouse-type buildings where horses are taken up ramps to their stables. There are no fire precautions, and if something were to happen it's very likely that the horses would be trapped.

- In order to become a carriage driver, it is not required for you to have a valid driver's license. Many times they disobey simple traffic laws simply because they can get away with it.

- The horses feed is stored in buckets beneath the carriage, where pigeons sneak in & eat it. If any droppings get in the food, the drivers aren't supposed to feed it to the horses because it makes them sick & spreads disease. Many still do give the horses the infected feed, usually by dumping it in the street in front of them.

- There are laws set up to prevent problems with carriages and poor treatment of the animals, however they are not enforced. The ASPCA only has a few members that keep a watchful eye on the horse-drawn carriages, which isn't nearly enough.

- Although there are a handful of carriage drivers that appreciate their horses, there are more that do not, and treat them cruelly.

This is only a few tidbits of what I learned, and it's horrifying. The least we can do is not support the business, and not take carriage rides. But if you'd like to learn more, check out this link:
One woman made an excellent point about how people say it's "tradition", and it's part of history. She went on to say that so is bullfighting -- but does that make it right? Does it make it any less cruel? I certainly don't think so.
Ignorance is not bliss! See for yourself!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Vampire Fang Necklace - I WANT ONE!

I'm sure you guys are sick of hearing how much I love vampire stuff.
This obsession started looooong before the Twilight series emerged (which I love as well), and has caused me to surround myself with numerous movies & books on these beautiful and creepy beings. I even love the band Vampire Weekend. Who'd have thunk it?

Then today I was surfing my favorite celebrity gossip website (it's my guilty little pleasure - so get over it). I came across a photo of Kelley Osborne (left), and what caught my eye was not the dumbfounded look on her face, but the shining vampire teeth strung around her neck! I gasped, and quickly did a google search so that I could snag one of my own. Alas, my search was cut short when I realized that it seemed the only necklace-fangs that were available were close to $225!


My birthday is coming up soon (yet another year closer to 30 -- yikes!), so I'm throwin' this one out there with hopes of my wishes coming back to me in the form of this lovely little teeth necklace. A vampire geek can dream, can't she?

The Talons Challenge 2009

OK - I'm totally not crazy enough to do this, but a bunch of my friends are! (yep, that's part of why I love 'em so much).

We're heading up to Beaver Creek tomorrow, where my friends will attempt to conquer all 13 black diamond runs in 1 day. I don't think I'd even try to conquer more than 1 black diamond at Beaver Creek in 1 day. My problem really is moguls (or to non-mountain people, the bumpy things in the photo above). Everyone seems to think that I'll just fall into a groove, and the movements will just start coming to me naturally as I navigate my way down the slope. Well, they're right about the falling part! I understand the desire for a new challenge, but I think I'm pretty happy where I'm at -- just doing my thing on my lovely blue / intermediate runs, while listening to old AFI albums through the speakers in my new awesome helmet. And hey, I'm trying jumps this year, so that's a good start. Maybe I just need to take things one baby-step at a time.

So moguls, I will accept your challenge in my own doggone time. I know you probably don't want a mogul-amateur like me messing up your bumps anyways. 'Cause all I'd do is snowplow all the powder right off of ya at this point. Let's make a date for next season, maybe?

Friday, January 16, 2009

An Experiment in Human Values...

This is from a forward that my little sister emailed me the other day. I'm not big on forwards, but this one was really interesting! Don't forget to stop & smell the roses, kids....

A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousands of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule.

A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping continued to walk.

A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.

The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written with a violin worth 3.5 million dollars.

Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and the seats average $100.00 each.

This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?

One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be:

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing some of the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?

Napoleon Complex

Did you know that Napoleon Bonaparte was 1.7 meters tall? That's approximately 5 feet 7 inches here in the US of A. So really, he wasn't all that short. I guess he was short by some men's standards, but hey, I'm 5'5". He still would've been taller than me (if I weren't wearing my 5" platform shoes). Which I am. This painting was a portrait of Napoleon done by Antoine-Jean Gros. This is a very different depiction of the Napoleon I'm used to seeing. I always imagined him as a short, balding, somewhat ugly man. This painting shows him as a regal, handsome young man, with flowing locks of hair. Interesting interpretation eh? It's funny how before cameras & video, the way we visualize historical people & events is moreso based on their actions - or how an artist depicts them. Yeah, I totally Wikipedia'd the shit out of Napoleon today. Just 'cause I was curious how tall he actually was. Hope y'all have a great weekend! :)

Friday, January 9, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

I just saw the beautiful & brilliant "Slumdog Millionaire" last night with my friend Mindy. I didn't realize that one of my favorite directors Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, A Life Less Ordinary, Shallow Grave, Sunshine) was the director either. The little boys in the movie (pictured) were outstanding - and so ridiculously adorable. It was a happy / sad / touching / horrifying / beautiful story - and I recommend that everyone go & check it out. All of the adult actors did an amazing job as well! :)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Bummed / Sad / Guilty

So I've been pretty bummed out / sad / feeling guilty the last few days. I recently ended a short but intense relationship with a boy. What hurts the most is that he's a really good person, and deserves so much more than what I could give. He has a wonderful heart, and I hate that I'm someone who hurt it. I don't know why my feelings changed, but once they did I couldn't let things continue. I had to be true to myself because I've grown to understand how important that is. I hope that this boy can try to understand that as well.

So - boy - if you're reading this, I can't tell you how sorry I am for hurting you. I don't regret any part of what we had together, and I hope that you don't either. I hope and pray that you feel better about everything, and that soon we can share a drink together as friends.