Thursday, July 30, 2020

Playing with the Pivo

So, as I mentioned on Monday, I sold my Pixio and opted to replace it with something that was a bit more suited for the way I have time to deal with media: the Pivo Silver. Funny enough, someone asked me about the Pivo last year, but that was back before they started heavily marketing it to equestrians. At the time, she got one (a Red), and while it did an okay job of tracking you on a 20m circle if you rode around it at a walk or trot, that was pretty much it. Obviously now they have made LEAPS and BOUNDS of progress. I'm not here to sell you on the product or teach you how to use one. I'm just here to talk about my experience with it :) I will say Amanda's First Impressions post was super helpful in terms of managing expectations and setting yourself up for success, as well as spending a lot of time in the Pivo Horse Riding Community group on FB. If you expect this to perform like a Pixio or Soloshot at a fraction of the price, you'll be disappointed. That's not how the technology works.
Unrelated photo from Tuesday... It was misty and weird and it almost looked like a rainbow was ending in my back pasture? 
So understanding the limits of this particular technology, and also my own penchant for NOT BEING GOOD AT TECHNOLOGY (see, the 80% of user-caused errors when I first started trying to use the Pixio), when it arrived Monday I charged it up and started playing with it. I am using my old Pixel 2 to film (which I replaced due to a cracked screen and diminishing battery life), while I keep my Pixel 3 on me to sync with the Equisense (and also call for assistance should I become... er... lawn darted/incapacitated/need emergent help for whatever reason). I goofed around with the Pivo and my old Pixel 2 in the garage first, having it track DH (and our neighbor) while they worked on some truck repairs... then I took it out to the arena and threw Ruby out there (I pulled her in from the pasture, so ignore the grazing muzzle/fly mask) just to get a feel for it.
Crappy screenshot but you know, just testing!
Tuesday morning I was super stoked to ride Cinna and see what kind of footage I could get. I rode for about 25 minutes, and I'd estimate that it tracked us about 22 of those minutes. One time it lost us as we went down to the far side of the arena (and since we were traveling "away" from it, I imagine our shape wasn't recognizable as a horse), but I noticed it wasn't tracking so I just circled closer to it until it picked me up again, no sweat. The next time, it got distracted as we rode by Sam (one of our goats), so then it followed him for a while -- which frankly I found hilarious. He is boxy shaped, although not a horse.... haha.
Not a horse. But I can see why that's confusing!
While I was trying to get the settings right for video I accidentally took this picture and it made me giggle. She stood like this the entire time I was checking the settings. 

Super cropped off a screengrab, so not great quality. 
She wore my new Weatherbeeta ombre set so she could look FANCY!
Such a diva. 
I was a little less successful yesterday when I rode Ruby with it. I changed some settings and the location -- I started with the tripod near X thinking that might make following me down at the far end a little easier. Unfortunately, due to the time of day I ride, the sun coming up ended up blinding the camera any time I rode up one side, so it kind of gave up and stopped tracking me and just stared into the sun... lol. So I got off and moved it back to the corner, and it still struggled a bit. My arena set up isn't ideal for this (I'd rather have it outside B or E, but the view would be blocked by the fence), and I can't exactly control when the sun comes up/the angle it hits my arena at, so I'll have to keep doing some tinkering with both settings and tripod location! :) I also bought a little tripod with the bendy legs to try mounting it directly to the arena and bypassing the "normal" tripod, so that's another option.
The Pivo recording me taking a picture of Ruby, because she looked so darn pretty as I walked back to get on. 
I did use a white pad thinking that might make it easier to follow us, but I'm not sure that really helped.
It tracked me for a minute until it decided the tack shed must be a horse instead...
Riding back by to try to pick it up. 
I'm not sure what in the background there was so fascinating, but I have a lot of footage of it. 
It also hung out looking at the goat shed for a while. 
Trying unsuccessfully to convince it to watch me instead of the goat shed. 
It did finally follow me a little more towards the end of the ride as I was cooling her out. 
So... a mixed bag for my first two attempts :) I think Cinna is a lot easier for it to identify, so it makes sense it didn't struggle as much there. I have a "busy" background, so I'll have to keep trying different settings to see if I can get it to track Ruby more consistently.

I tried to make some GIFs but failed miserably so enjoy these little Youtube snippets!
Just some walk in our warmup. 
Cinna being amenable to my flopping around asking for a canter transition.
The supremely annoying camera shake it did in the beginning of Ruby's ride... I made sure the red box was on her (identifying her as the horse for their tracker), hit record, and then walked back to get on... and it just shook back and forth like this for a while. 
Generic, not exciting trotting

It lost me when I was way closer to the camera and then didn't pick me up again until I was circled allllll the way around, so you missed what felt like a really fun/great canter :)

Here you can see the issue I had with the angle of the sun blinding the camera...

So... some encouraging media, some discouraging media, and a while lot of ideas to try again! :)

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Blog Hop: Home Office

Viva Carlos had a great blog hop yesterday that I wanted to join in on, since working from home has been the unexpected bright spot in the absolute shit show that is 2020. I felt like I had blogged about my office at some point, but apparently it wasn't for the office blog hop, it was for one about horse decor -- since I didn't have any in my house, just my office, that's what I wrote about. Of course that was 3+ years ago, and I'm not with that agency anymore. I think I shared some pics of my new office from my promotion last fall, but considering I spend like no time there now, let's talk about my home office!

My agency was pretty quick to mandate us working from home (if possible) in mid-March. Back then, not knowing how long it was going to last, I wasn't super excited about the idea of spending a ton of money on a new home office set up. So I improvised.
First up - my antique vanity. I didn't want to work in the bedroom (where it lived previously) because I already have issues with insomnia). So I pulled this out into the living room. I figured that would be fine for a few weeks. There's my garbage old laptop, lol. And a spectacularly crappy chair we got God knows where. 
After about 48 hours of trying to work solely on the laptop, I bought a second monitor, a new mouse, and keyboard. Oh and a different chair! (a saddle stool). I did eventually upgrade the laptop too, because that blue one kept trying to die on me. 
Once it warmed up, I did consider trying to work from the tack shed.... but alas, the wifi extender struggles to reach that far. So. Next best option?
Eventually once it became clear the WFH thing was here to stay for the near future, I moved my workspace into our spare bedroom. You may recognize it from my DIY ribbon display. This is the view to the right of my desk. 
To the left of my desk, we have a dog bed that hosts various noodles throughout the day. They like to take turns keeping me company. 
In June, I broke down and bought a new more ergonomically sized desk for me. DH also bought me a new office chair for my birthday, because the saddle stool started REALLLLLLY doing a number on my back. This was the day I set everything up (so artificially neat, lol). A few things have changed since this photo (namely stacks of papers as we get closer to my program's charitable campaign haha). 
A photo taken yesterday after I finished working for the day. To the right is a display of old soda bottles (DH) and there are more in the cabinet to my left. You can see the dog bed too. I do attempt to tidy up at the end of every day and have a "for tomorrow" stack. 
This is my view on the left wall - when the horses are out, I can see parts of the front paddock and dry lot from my window! This used to be where the antique restored pew we had lived, but we moved that out to the living room and it works way better out there :) plus it makes this room feel more open and pleasant to work in!
I really, really like working from home. Every hour when my activity tracker reminds me to walk (when I was at the office I would do a lap around my floor), now I walk down and check the mail, or walk out and throw Jack another flake of alfalfa. When its not blisteringly hot, I take my morning walk and do laps of the driveway :) the kitchen is only steps away for my lunch or snacks! Instead of hustling into my car to get started on my hour-long commute, on days I don't ride I sit and enjoy a cup of coffee on the porch.

I truly don't know how long I'll be able to continue WFH -- my agency seems to be erring on the side of caution in terms of bringing people back, so aside from a weekly trip in to check my mail and occasional in-person socially distant/masked meetings, this will continue to be my normal for a while. I'm very grateful to be able to do this, no matter how long it lasts. I don't think there has been any reduction in my productivity (in fact, I'm taking on some new duties at work), so hopefully I'll be able to keep this up for a long time :) While I certainly do miss some social aspects of being in the office all week, I wouldn't trade this extra time with my horses and dogs for anything. Plus ya know, I can wear jeans and grungy t-shirts and slippers instead of dress clothes! haha

I don't know if it's lucky or not, but since he has moved back to an institution, DH is "essential personnel" at work, so he still goes in every day. I like to roam and walk while I'm on conference calls (which is relatively often), and he likes to do everything at volume level 100, so I'm realllllly glad we're both not trying to work from here. One day he did stay home to do some work remotely and I pretty quickly banished him out to the garage (it has wifi and is heated/cooled, so really not a bad place to work lol).

In retrospect, when we built the house, if we had had any idea that I would have the chance to work from home (no option in my last job, or most of DH's jobs), I definitely would have set the house up a little differently and made space for a dedicated office, but all things considered, this has worked out relatively well. Although if the WFH becomes permanent, we did discuss an office addition lol.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Motivation Monday!

Hot damn you guys, we got a minor break in the heat wave (very minor) and I am MOTIVATED. We all know that will last approximately two seconds, so I'll enjoy it while I can.
DH dragged the ring for me last week when we were on a "farm chores" kick. He also leveled two stalls and brush-hogged both the dry lots before this. All in about an hour. He's the bomb dot com.
Both the girls got the sweat and grime hosed off them over the weekend in anticipation of more riding this week. They thought this was pretty cool because I let them dry in front of the big fan. 
Cousin It over here with that ridiculous forelock haha. 
Jack didn't get hosed off but he wanted some attention (which he got, naturally). He's still doing great after the whole teeth ordeal earlier this summer. Putting away that alf like it's going out of style (although I'm still not thrilled with his weight, but what else is new?)
We spent a long weekend out in the heat getting other necessary things done, but I knew it was supposed to be cooler this week, so I figured it would be good for riding in the mornings again. I talked to my new boss last week (new because my division got reorganized, not because I changed jobs or anything) about logging on for work a little later so I could go back to riding in the morning, and she was fine with that. So I was super pumped to get up and go... annnnnnd then it was drizzling when I got up to do chores. The forecast didn't look super promising but I decided to go for it anyway -- we got drizzled on a little tacking up, then it mostly quit for our ride.
Unimpressed with both working in the morning AND the rain. 
I love riding in a freshly dragged arena!
Despite her clear FEELINGS on the rain, Ruby was super good and came out ready to work. My EquiSense was real dead (can't remember the last time I charged it, oops! #badattech), so I didn't get any fun data from the work, but it felt pretty good. Some nice moments of trot and some great transitions. Canter is still hit and miss, since we're out of shape, but she was very obedient and tried hard, so I can't ask for more than that. After I finished up, she got hosed off and put back in her stall in front of a fan to dry... and about 30 seconds after I got back into the house the skies opened up with a deluge of rain. So the timing for that ride couldn't have been more perfect!
Didn't dress her up in anything fun because I really did think I was going to get rained on. 
Perpetually tired of my shit lol. 
In other tangentially blog-related news, I sold my Pixio. I hadn't used it since December of 2018, between house construction/not riding/time management. Mostly because I kept ending up with 40+ minutes of footage that I'd then have to pull onto the computer, upload to YouTube, and then try to find time to watch/edit down into something useful. Plus dealing with the garbage laptop I used to have before WFH meant that any time I tried to do anything with the footage I usually ended up annoyed enough that I wanted to drop kick the laptop. So footage just kept stacking up and stacking up and I wasn't doing anything with it :(

It didn't make a ton of sense to have a $$$$ system sitting around in my closet not getting used, so I put out some feelers about selling it on FB. I assumed it would take a while, but apparently since there are like NEVER any of those available used, it sold in less than 24 hours. It's going to a really cool trainer who I think will get a ton of use out of it (certainly far more than I ever got!).
Mare faces are the best. 
But, since I really did like having riding footage to review/share, I decided to go ahead and grab a Pivo. Definitely a little late on the bandwagon here, because I know about half the bloggers I follow already have one, but I'm still excited to try it out :) I ride with my phone on me (because I pretty much always ride alone), so I'm actually going to use an old cell phone I have lying around for the filming. We'll see if I struggle with the learning curve on the Pivo like I did the first month of the Pixio, lol. Having footage on my spare phone should make clipping/screenshots/sharing SO MUCH EASIER. 

So. Here's to the motivation continuing long enough for me and my dramatic Spanish mares to get back into a steady routine! Maybe even.... *gasp*.... lessons?!

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

WW: Life Lately

Life is doing it's normal summer thing here -- we're just existing on the hot days, and being productive any day it's "cooler". 
DH's garden is a bit out of control. 
He's like the tomato whisperer. These photos are from last week, he's got some about ready to eat now!
These hooligans like to hang out with me at "work"
We had some wicked storms last week and being at home all the time means I'm weirdly interested in the weather lol. 
Finally replaced my fly masks since most of them were pretty ratty (I did get a fourth one it just didn't make the picture) and naturally I got teal for the girls. 
She was NOT a fan of the wormer she had that 
Trigger started in this mask but after he took it off FOUR TIMES IN FOUR DAYS (after literally not ever taking off the janky, hole-y mask he was wearing previously), I swapped his and Jack's masks. 
Skeptical horse is skeptical. He had is 4-week checkup to pull the packing from his molar on Monday and got a glowing report. So all of the teeth stuff is behind us for another 5 or so months (when they want them both to have a re-check). 
Take two. We'll see if this one sticks or if he has to go back to the gross old torn up one (that thankfully I didn't throw away yet lol). 
Her tolerance for his shenanigans is wonderful. 
I love them both. 
We spent a nice lowkey 4th on the river. Came home in plenty of time to keep a close eye on all the animals as our neighbors set off thousands of dollars worth of mortars (god I hate fireworks). 
I cannot stop with the tongue pictures, #sorrynotsorry
The dogs take turns keeping me company "at work".
Cici's turn! 
So exhausted after a long day of... sleeping on the couch. 
Even my mom's dog gets in on the napping in my office!
That's about all that's new in my world! I'm impatiently waiting a package from Australia I think you'll enjoy photos of, but since I didn't pay extra for the (worthless) tracking, NO IDEA when that's gonna show... lol.