Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Are you kidding me?

March 5, 2015

We woke this morning to about a foot of new-fallen snow from the Thor weather system.


Along about 2:00 pm our power winked out. So I determined to start up the generator. There was no gas for the generator because clever me likes to run all of our garden equipment out of gas by the end of the season (because, as everyone knows, gas goes bad if it just sits there for six months). So I rolled the Ford into town… which is about 8 miles. The roads were on Level 2 snow emergency status; which means you’re allowed to be out there on the roads if you aren’t particularly gifted with common sense. That’s me, for sure.

By the time I got back, our electric was working again. So about the only thing I really accomplished is buying a small over-priced bag of gummy bears and 4 suet cakes for the wild birds. Oh… and I have about 8 gallons of gas to begin the year.

The weather reports say that the temp will be up in the 50’s within about four days. 50 degrees is downright balmy and will melt all the snow and ice. That means there will be floods and there will be mud.

March is always an interesting month.

Out Like a Lamb

My spring-time chores make for quite a list. I’m looking forward to getting outside and doing some work! I have a major case of cabin fever. I’ve got to: start my seeds indoors; repair the lawn/turf; paint and reassemble the pond raft; turn the garden; box-grade the entry road; spring clean the tractor shed; repair the barn roof at the upper cabin; cut the brush intruding on the dam road; clean up the roto-tiller; clean up the training building; set agility equipment aside for repair and painting. And none of it particularly in that order.

What will be in the garden this year? We had a great crop of tomatoes last year. I definitely want to do that again. We just added the last package to Marsha’s yummy chili. I might not do Jalapenos this year because I still have like 3 or 4 half-quart bottles (and trust me, I use them in everything). I did put up however some of those hot little red peppers like you’ll get in a Chinese restaurant. I’m thinking I could make some killer hot sauce. Oh… and I want potatoes. I’m brewing a pecker-wood scheme; I have this old bath tub, you see, and I’m going to put about 6″ of peat on the bottom and crowd in a layer of starter potatoes. I’ll put the tub on a downhill slant so that it drains promptly. As the plants come up I’ll continue to shove peat and soil around the emerging tubers. I’m curious to see how high I can build it before they start blooming. I’m betting I can make about 100 lbs in a bath tub. I’m also going to grow 2 or 3 varieties of squash this year. I’m not a huge squash fan; but Marsha wants them and I’m thinking it’ll be easier to get her to help me keep the weeds hoed down. I’m looking forward to my garlic crop this year too. Got them in on Columbus day. I’ll take them out on the 4th of July. That’s the way it’s done. Part of the problem with a garden is keeping the dogs out of it. Most of my dogs would be keen to help harvest tomatoes.


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston The web store is up and running. You’ll find in the web store The Book of Agility Games, an invaluable reference to clubs engaged in league play.

A Diversion

January 13, 2015


I have a bunch of work to do today. But I’ve decided to waste a bit of time on a diversion. I dreamt of a jumpers course last night and had to get up this morning to sketch it out.

Have a good day today Buckeye fans.


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston The web store is up and running. I have five volumes (over 100 pp each) of The Joker’s Notebook available on my web-store at an inexpensive price. These are lesson plans suitable for individual or group classes for teaching dog to work at a distance.


September 2, 2014

My older brother Travis Lionel Houston died eight days ago. I’ve been reluctant to share my thoughts and feelings on this. Some of those feelings won’t be shared. We’ll have to call them private demons.

When we were children Travis was my best bud. He was certainly my greatest tormentor and defender; which means that he would have beat the crap out of anyone who treated me like he did. And from time to time, he did just that.

Travis was the star of our family and the apple of my father’s eye. He excelled in athletics. He was a ladies man. He was a scholar. He had the world in front of him.

On the other hand, I was none of that. By all accounts I was the black sheep of the family. And so by the hand of cards we were both dealt you’d have thought that the future was a predictable movie script.

Travis demonstrated too early in his life a propensity for chemical dependency. You can call it a character flaw. I prefer to imagine that it’s a disease that he had no more chance of overcoming without proper care than the most malevolent cancer. For more than 40 years we hadn’t much to say to each other. He used to “borrow” a few hundred dollars from me every few months as his life moved from disaster to disaster. One day I cut all that off and I never again had much occasion to talk to him. He no longer had use for me.

So now Travis has died. It was liver failure. If I understand the diagnosis his liver was making or allowing to be made horrible toxic chemicals that choked away his life.

Here’s the thing about alcohol and drugs… none of it should be viewed as a “risk”. It’s like you’re abusing your body and you get to say silly shit like “well, it’s a risk. But my grandma drank… and she lived to 99!”

It’s not a risk. It’s a certainty. And you’re going to die a horrible stupid death before it’s actually your time to die. In the meantime you get to live in hovels and hang out with the worthless dregs of humanity… because they’re the ones who share your values.

I actually cried when I heard the news. I wouldn’t have called that. It wasn’t for very long, and it wasn’t for the man who died. I cried for the child I knew the brother my old best friend with so much promise that forever shall be unfulfilled.

Post Script

I’m oddly grappling with the artifice of the “Blog” which is shared out as unpredictable spam on “Facebook”. It’s a poor tribute to my older brother that the closest thing he’ll get to a eulogy is a social network sentiment that gets to compete with “I had a burrito for breakfast,” and “isn’t my cat cute!”


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston The web store is up and running. I have five volumes (over 100 pp each) of The Joker’s Notebook available on my web-store at an inexpensive price. These are lesson plans suitable for individual or group classes for teaching dog to work at a distance.

Doesn’t Get Any Better!

March 15, 2013

I’m guessing that Winter is nearly done. Though I haven’t been active on this blog, I have been doing a lot of work, with taxes, with Top Dog Agility Players, and with the Teacup Dogs Agility Association. And the TDAA is really ramping up for the year. I’ve reviewed something like 400 courses in the last couple weeks. It’s work that has to be done and has occupied me from early in the morning to late at night.

Oh, and taxes. Every year I go through this ritual in which I lock myself in my man cave and don’t come out until it’s all done. Okay, so it’s done.

Today is all Top Dog work… and maybe for several more days to come.

Follow along with the Top Dog blog:

The Winter Project

A couple years ago I built a raft, which is basically a wooden frame with six 50-gallon barrels under it. Here’s a picture of it:


It’s really quite heavy. As you can see I have it hoisted up with a saw horse at each corner. It’s kind of fun to float around on the pond and do some fishing. Kory likes it too. But I’ve found it an unattractive piece of work. So I’ve spent a few idle hours over the winter upgrading the basic features of the raft.


If it weighed a ton before, it weighs two tons now. I’ve fenced all the corners, added corner seats and painted the whole thing… mostly for the purpose of water proofing. I’m not really done with it at all. I’m going to add a second layer of flooring which will also be water-proofed, and painted a darker color for contrast.  And you’ll be proud to know that the entire raft is built with recycled wood!

It was a real engineering feat to get it up on the John Deere wagon, which I managed to do all by my lonesome. The next engineering feat will be to get it back down to the pond; tip it over to affix the barrels; and then get it in the water.


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston The web store is up and running. I have five volumes (over 100 pp each) of The Joker’s Notebook available on my web-store at an inexpensive price. These are lesson plans suitable for individual or group classes for teaching dog to work at a distance.

I Got Something Done

January 19, 2013

Okay, bear with me on this. I haven’t been able to get much done for the past several days because my computer crashed and burned. This moment I’m working on a new computer, with a brand new operating system… Windows 8.

Now Windows 8 is quite interesting. It’s rather like the interface you’ll see on a Notebook or even one of the new spiffy phones. As a consequence, nearly everything I know about a computer interface is nearly worthless old-timey out-of-date trash. Naturally there’s no option to say… make this computer work like my last one did.

Before I could get to any of my routine work I had to begin the arduous process of getting the tools installed that I use to do my work. There’s always the potential that the software will not be compatible with the new operating system, and I’ll have to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to get upgraded.

Microsoft Office was my starting point. I just purchased the Home and Business something like a year ago because the previous version I owned was no longer eligible for a freebie upgrade. And then, of course, I had to buy an independent copy of MS Access because that key element isn’t actually included in Home and Business. I had to spend awhile on the phone with the Microsoft Store because there was no record of those purchases on the store. It turns out (note how I’m translating four hours of agony to a transitional statement “it turns out”) that customer is identified by his email address. And my old account was registered under my old hughesnet email addy. This is extremely short-sided of Microsoft. Email addresses tend to be more transient than other important customer information. Once I got switched into my account the store has a reusable product Download option and a convenient product code (and even an option to put it in the copy/paste buffer).

The next thing was to get a browser so I don’t have to use funky Internet Explorer. I have been using Mozilla Firefox. The problem with Firefox is that it has mostly been an unstable product since about release 4.0. And every time they upgrade it I lose support for more add-on options. So this time around I’ve gone for another browser, called Opera. The jury is still out on Opera. I’m a little put off by the fact that there is no “Home” button on the toolbar. Otherwise it behaves rather like Firefox, enabling multiple tabs to be open and having a Favorites screen populated by usage habits.

My old computer, Compaq Presario had a failed boot. Naturally these days you don’t get a start-up disk with a new computer (in spite of having paid for it). So I downloaded a utlity that allows you to create a bootable CD/DVD. It’s actually little more than a file manager and not a robust operating system at all. Since I didn’t have a terribly current backup of production files this utlity did good work for me.

I also had a back-up laptop computer which was Marsha’s old laptop, also a Compaq Presario. I created a new user partition, then opened Mozilla Thunderbird … hopeful that I could find a way to identify and retrieve my old messages from my failed laptop. Oh, be careful what you wish for. The IMAP settings immediately began to download from the frigging cloud every email I’ve ever received and every email I’ve ever sent. That download took about three days and probably put our data allowance over the top on our Verizon account. None of the filing of emails I’ve done is reflected; everything I’ve ever deleted is back again; and there’s no indication as to what emails I’ve ever replied to unless I want to go into my sent files and do some detective work. Naturally I’m reluctant to turn on Thunderbird on my new computer. All I need is another massive download. Instead, I’m going onto the internet to find a backup utility that will hopefully solve the IMAPping puzzle.

While I have a bunch of work to do, I’m approaching it one small bit at a time. There was a .pdf I had to edit (created from an Excel file); and then upload onto the Internet. I’d already solved the MS Office part of it. The next thing to do was get Acrobat Pro up and working. All Office products now have a “Save As” option for a PDF. I didn’t really need a virtual printer. What I did need is a PDF editor… which is why I installed Acrobat Pro. I’m happy to say that version 7 installed just fine. I know there’s a newer version that is compatible with Windows 7 (which is what is on Marsha’s computer) and Windows 8. But I don’t really need it. And I’m weary of Adobe products. You can’t talk to a person in the United States should you ever need support.

I also installed FTP on the new computer. It’s an old terminal package for which I’ve had a license for more than ten years. And guess what… it didn’t work. A quick check on the Internet found me a freeware FTP editor called FileZilla. OMG where have you been all my life? What a wonderful and well-designed program. Oh, and it’s a freebie.

So, like I said. I got something done, finally. We’ll count this blog post as also getting something done. Tomorrow I’m going to return to the topic of dog agility. I have a bunch of stuff to share.

Btw, my new computer has a Kindle app. I went out to the store to buy a Kindle book called Martian, by Andy Weir (recommended to me by Wayne Van Deusen). I put myself to bed last night with this brilliant sci-fi read. It’s reminiscent of the old hard core science stuff that guys like Asimov and Niven and Heinlein (before he went crazy) used to write. And the book only cost $.99. I must investigate how to author Kindle pubs.


Oh, and my new computer has a webcam. Fancy that.


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston The web store is up and running. I have five volumes (over 100 pp each) of The Joker’s Notebook available on my web-store at an inexpensive price. These are lesson plans suitable for individual or group classes for teaching dog to work at a distance.

Just Northwest of Crazy

December 15, 2012

I find myself in a convoluted trap of Social Media. I have my personal Facebook page; I have a Facebook page for the TDAA; and I’ll be darned if I don’t feel compelled to create a Facebook page for Top Dog. I’m also loosely in Linked-In, Google+, YouTube, and Spotify. Add to that the notion that I have moderator privileges on something like six Yahoo groups. And I have writing responsibilities on no fewer than three blogs.

Look guys, I’m about a 60 year old man. And all of this stuff is just northwest of crazy.

My niece Angi has me started on something called Hootsuite, an online utility from which I can monitor and contribute to all of these various tools. I don’t know if it’s really going to simplify my life. OTOH if I can see the whole crazy map at once it might at least succor me with the illusion of control.

I’ll let you know how that goes.

Today I wrote to my three blogs. I know it sounds mundane, but I’m sorting through the organization and location of resource files on my computer. You might enjoy (though no promises or guarantee):

On the TDAA blog I’ve written a “Quidditch Design Tutorial” ( I’ve finally moved the Course Design College away from my regular blog to reside under the TDAA banner. I should have done so a long time ago.

On The Top Dog blog I’ve posted new Events ( I’m playing with a new format to enhance interest in the courses.

In the News

I’ve been following the news of the schoolhouse shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. I’m horrified by the monstrous nature of this event. It is clear that there is a terrible sickness in the United States which is exacerbated and even made possible by the proliferation of guns in our society.

This is precisely the time for a strong response from our government. We need strong laws. Hunters should have guns; and criminals and the mentally instable should not. Hunting weapons should be narrowly defined; and everything outside of that definition should be illegal.


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston The web store is up and running. I have five volumes (over 100 pp each) of The Joker’s Notebook available on my web-store at an inexpensive price. These are lesson plans suitable for individual or group classes for teaching dog to work at a distance.

Weekend Recovery

September 23, 2012

I’m taking a short break from the continuing series on the games of the Petit Prix. Agility people get away from the internet on the weekends. They get out in the world and… do agility, and things like that. [Okay… so why am I here?]

During the week people will take advantage of my offer to: Get Paid for Reading my BLOG! So, I’ll resume the series on Monday.

The Book of Agility Games ~ the X Factor

I find myself now doing serious writing for this book. For awhile I was engaged in doing only technical things to the documentation of agility games; making sure all the right headings had content; writing premium blurbs and so forth.

The basic conflict that has kept me from doing real work is in appreciating what is my role in the documentation of games. Am I historian and unbiased reporter? Or, am I the content expert who can define or dictate how a particular game should be played. I’ve finally resolved the conflict, at least within myself. I am both.

I’ve found myself over and over telling TDAA judges during course reviews “I know you are being faithful to the original rules; but this game has evolved to be X”. And you know, what I really should be doing is allowing a game to be documented to represent the form to which it has evolved. It’s the X Factor. To give a good for example, the rules for Jumpers CDS was originally a game adopted, then abandoned, by the AKC. So the Book of Agility Games has maintained the rules for the game as played by the AKC. But these days the only venue that plays this game (and for titling, mind you) is the TDAA. To be clear, Call, Direct & Send has morphed into a very fun game in which every error is not a death penalty. And those are the rules that should be forefront in the game. And what the AKC did with it should be relegated to variation that is no longer observed.

So, I’m doing some serious writing for this book now. I continue to work at the third edition ~ beta. This book is available as an eBook on my webstore: The deal I’m making with people who buy the beta version is to give them a full discount for what they pay for beta to get the third edition production version when I’m ready to publish. I’m hoping that’s by the end of the year.

I also need to get my next Joker’s Notebook compiled. I have enough material, but it’s a boatload of work putting it together into a workbook. I just stay too busy these days for my various projects.

“I’m writing a book. I’ve got the page numbers done.” Steven Wright

Winter Workshop Schedule

We’ve scheduled a series of workshops here at Country Dream. The schedule looks something like this:

  • Nov  25, 2012 ~ noon-4pm
  • Jan  13, 2013 ~ noon-4pm
  • Feb  3, 2013 ~ noon-4pm
  • Feb  24, 2013 ~ noon-4pm
  • Mar  3, 2013 ~ noon-4pm

Work Study

We’ve got another Work-Study camp scheduled. These tend to be a lot of fun. We run the agility camp for a half day; and we work on the property for a half day. This year we’ll clean up downed trees and branches and keep a big fire going. I know that doesn’t sound like much. But this property is 28 acres, about a half mile of internal roads, dog fencing all over the place, and something like 7 building structures.  Frankly it’s more work than I can keep up with on a regular basis.

And I like providing an inexpensive training option to agility fans out there.

Our next Work-Study camp is scheduled for Nov 9 through 12, 2012. We have a few campers signed up. There’s room for more. If you have any interest, contact Marsha at

You know, I would really love to schedule a Geek’ Work Study sometime in the next six months. It would be fun to have a bunch of video and computer people here (and agility handler/dog talent). It might not even be the same format. Work and Study could have interweaving objectives. If you have interest in this… you should contact me: I’ll turn it over to Marsha for scheduling if it ever gets to critical mass.

Notes on CRCD-4

  • There is no properly sized A-frame for the TDAA. The TDAA A-frame should have an adjustable width of 2′ to 2’5″.
  • I was wrong about the ability to save the 3-D graphics image using a Save Ascommand. It will indeed safe the file as a .gif or a .tif… but it is the two dimensional image and not the 3-D graphic.So, the workaround for capturing the 3-D image is to do a screen print, and then trim and edit the image in Photoshop.
  • The most annoying thing about the new version now is that the text source is not compatible with the old version 3. When I’m corresponding with people (as when I’m doing TDAA course reviews) I like to paste in the text for a course-map to illustrate a point. If they don’t have CRCD-4… they just can’t read it. So I have to work in CRCD-3 when I’m doing certain work.

Continuing notes on the Clean Run Course Designer v4 can be found here:


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston The web store is up and running. I have five volumes (over 100 pp each) of The Joker’s Notebook available on my web-store at an inexpensive price. These are lesson plans suitable for individual or group classes for teaching dog to work at a distance.

DP Department

August 10, 2012

For about the last week I’ve been splitting my duties between being the Landscaping Department and the Data Processing Department. That means I have outside labors and inside work that keep me moving through the day.

We bought a new laptop, a really nice machine from HP. The difficulty of a new computer is always bringing it into production while the old one gets retired to join the boat anchor pile. You can imagine, everything from Clean Run Course Designer to all the Microsoft and Adobe products… to installing the printer and browser and security and email client. It’s an awesome bit of work.

The mistake I’ve made in the past is buying two computers at once, one for Marsha and one for me. We’ve decided to go to a leap-frog strategy. The new laptop belongs to her. I’ll get a new one maybe next year, being careful to stay backed up with my own data in the meantime.

The new computer runs a new operating system: Windows 7. Of course it’s completely different from Vista and makes some software incompatible. It never fails that the cost of bringing software up to spec is actually more expensive than the computer itself.

I’m inspired to post the following bit to Facebook. I’m really hoping it goes viral:

Adobe Systems You Fail!

I have been a faithful customer to Adobe Systems for something like 20 years. I use a variety of Adobe products. I’ve endured the fact that nearly always when MicroSoft makes an upgrade change to the Windows operating system Adobe products will require an upgrade to be compatible. I’ve accepted that the upgrade price is about as expensive as purchasing these products new.

Two days ago when I contacted Adobe to get an upgrade to Acrobat Pro (the old version is incompatible with the 64 bit Windows 7) … I was assisted by a service technician in India. He was astoundingly incompetent.

I tell you I’m getting completely fed up with companies who do business in America, take our money, value our loyalty, but want to pinch a penny by giving a job to a slave-labor barely-speaks-English clerk half-way around the world.

A word to you guys at Adobe ~ I’m an American. If you want my loyalty you will give me yours. You need to hire Americans to do business in America. I don’t want to talk to anybody in India when I’m dealing with your company.

I went right out and Googled up a Freeware program that does exactly the job that Acrobat Pro has always done for me (provides a virtual printer to create PDF documents). The more advanced features are of little interest to me.

I found a product called “Bullzip” available at It’s absolute freeware (though it would be a good touch if you left a donation for their programming efforts).

LIKE this post if you re tired of companies that do business in America but do not value American workers.


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston The web store is up and running. I have five volumes (over 100 pp each) of The Joker’s Notebook available on my web-store at an inexpensive price. These are lesson plans suitable for individual or group classes for teaching dog to work at a distance.


August 7, 2012

I’ve been entranced by the Olympics for the past several days. I haven’t been entirely jingoistic in my delight for the competition. It’s so cool to watch these young athletes in a competition they’ve been working towards for years and years into a small sliver of time, a single chance, a summary moment.

All athletes have a relationship with a coach working to prepare them in the pursuit of perfection. The relationships young athletes have with their coaches is of special interest to me. I suppose you get to see interaction between player and coach more clearly in sports like gymnastics.

What I like about gymnastics especially is watching these grizzled old men who coach young men and women towards amazing athletic perfection.

Getting Real

After something like 20 years of being a “here, let me show you” kind of coach, I find myself physically incapable of the kind of movement and grace that is fundamental to a wicked partnership with an athletic, well-trained dog. I am afflicted by a condition called “osteoarthritis”. Yes, there are meds for this condition. What the meds actually do is allow me to go through the day without excruciating pain; they allow me to sleep at night. Unfortunately the bones move with creaky precarious wobblediness; as though every major joint has a minor sprain. Without the meds, it’s more like every joint has a major sprain.

As a coach I can tell a student what they need to do to take their game to the next level. I can put that student on handling exercises and on the pertinent dog training mission. I can show little bits; but I won’t be running to arrive at that bit.

I have few local students, one or two capable of world class; they are caught up in the drama of their personal lives and probably will not pursue or finish the killer agility career, and approach agility only as an expensive hobby. Nationally I have a number of students that follow my teaching closely. Working with them is a spotty and occasional matter. They get their “Bud fix” ever year or so. That’s not the same thing as working with me relentlessly, daily or weekly, for a span of years.

I’ve considered bringing my nephew down to teach him the game and to run my dogs. He’s a young, slender athletic boy… he could outrun most competitors in the game today. It would break your heart if I told you how important that is.

At any rate, my life has been taken over by the work of the TDAA, in nurturing and improving that organization. I’m having fun doing this. But it’s work; it’s a job. And, it’s not my first love.


The key is not the will to win. Everybody has that. It is the will to prepare to win that is important.” ~ Bobby Knight, coaching the USA men’s basketball, 1984 gold medal team.


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston The web store is up and running. I have five volumes (over 100 pp each) of The Joker’s Notebook available on my web-store at an inexpensive price. These are lesson plans suitable for individual or group classes for teaching dog to work at a distance.

The Forlorn Hawk

August 4, 2012

A pair of hawks nested high in a tree down by the pond. I’ve watched them floating in the breeze above the lower field. This has been their home for several years.

The storm, the derecho that fell on our property in July was a bad turn for the hawks. Last week my brother Keevyn was down on a short vacation (while he fished I worked with chainsaw and tractor, clearing about a dozen downed trees from the dam road).

That morning there was a single hawk around the pond. He sounded like he was calling. It was a pitiful forlorn cry. And he stayed at it most of the day.

Keevyn said that one of the downed trees had a really big nest in it. He climbed the hill to investigate. And he came back with these:

It’s not easy to tell from the photo… but these are egg shells.

So the hawk lost his nest, his eggs, and maybe his mate. Actually I’m not all that sure whether the lone hawk was the falcon or the male. I’m guessing that the female went down with the nest.

Today I was down dragging ruined trees off the road, again. And there was no sign or sound of any hawk.


Things have gotten so crazy that I find myself prioritizing my work. It’s a thing I used to do back when I had a real job. I’m sorry to say that the blog is a bit too low on the list. I’ve had some great stories to tell but have had to content myself with being the solitary witness.

I’ll try to break away a time or two this week to catch you up. It’s late now.


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston The web store is up and running. I have five volumes (over 100 pp each) of The Joker’s Notebook available on my web-store at an inexpensive price. These are lesson plans suitable for individual or group classes for teaching dog to work at a distance.