When the Sky Darkens

Logan helpfully keeps the grass from needing to be mowed.
Logan helpfully keeps the grass from needing to be mowed. Photo by Caroline Frandsen.

Letting go is the hardest thing a horse owner ever faces. Scheduling the vetenarian and the disposal of the carcass makes you feel like you’re plotting to murder a beloved family member. It’s the hardest decision to make, and make it I must. The inside of Logan’s right front hoof looks like an angry, spiky cactus on the x-rays, due to aggressive arthritis. He’s had a long and sometimes difficult life.

Logan started his working life as a coal mine horse in Poland. From there, he somehow ended up in Fredericia as a riding school pony for somewhere between fifteen and twenty years. And finally, he’s had a year now with us at Caroline Frandsen’s RideCare barn near Fredericia, and we have done our best to spoil him rotten. We speculate that he’s a crossbreed between a Jutland horse and heaven above knows what only, because he has the colour and build of one, though he is not quite tall enough. His age is guesstimated to be between 26 and 30 plus.

Over the last six months his arthritis has gradually worsened. At first he was no longer able to carry a rider in trot and gallop — but I could still ride him on quiet walks. As of two weeks ago, though, that too came to an end. Last night the vetenarian and I made the decision, and he will be put down come Monday. Until then, he’s being kept on pain relief medication.

Too sick for lessons, but never too sick to graze.
Too sick for lessons, but never too sick to graze. Photo by me.

I am going to miss him terribly, and so are a lot of other people. During the short 14 months he was in Taulov, he’s made himself so very much at home that everybody knew him, and he was everybody’s big cuddlebear. Going to be a a hole in reality the shape of a little red draft horse that’s going to take some effort to fill out.

Cowabunga! It’s Spring!

It's spring! Cowabunga!
It’s spring! Cowabunga!

Here in Denmark we have one day every year that marks the transition from late winter to full-fledged spring. Today is that day: Yesterday the grass peeked timidly up between yesteryear’s dry remains — today, the dandelions exploded out of the ground like so many shining suns, and the first trees are coming into bloom, just like that!

Me, I’ve spent the last two weeks more or less hibernating on the sofa with a broken tooth, but today I got out in the sunshine in the afternoon. I got on Logan bareback and we grazed our way fifty metres down the road and back again. Grass was consumed. A few dandelions died too, but the first shoots of wild carrot were the bestest.

The wild carrot, the very bestest noms.
The wild carrot, the very bestest noms.

For him, lazy grazing time that does not place much strain on his arthritic hoof. For me, bloody hard work since my lower spine is notoriously out of whack, and keeping my balance on him without a saddle is a lot easier said than done. Perfect for us both, really.

It Ain’t SimCity — Fortunately!

It's everything I ever wanted!
It’s everything I ever wanted!

About a year and a half ago I was dancing around the living room because EA finally was releasing a new edition of their famous SimCity franchise. I bought the thing, I I gave it my very best, and at no time did I feel I was playing the game that got me hooked on video games to begin with, back in the mythical nineties when your mum was young and cellphones weighed four kilos each. We walked twenty miles to and from work, uphill and against the raging blizzard winds both ways and damnit, we had the best game back then — and EA completely failed to deliver on their updated, online version.

Paradox Games to the rescue. This month saw the release of Cities: Skylines and frankly, it’s everything I ever wanted, with additional tools for modders and fiddlers. It’s not even half the price that SimCity was, either, and there is so much more content, so much better simulation, so much better everything. Eh, the teeny tiny detail on the graphics might be a slight step downwards, but it’s not something you really notice a lot. The ability to add policies such as a ban on heavy traffic or free public transit to individual city districts blew me away — and I haven’t even got my town over 5,000 inhabitants yet after thirty hours of game play.

It ain’t easy. Cities: Skylines does not have the intuitive, here-let-me-show-you-to-do-this interactivity that SimCity prides itself on. You can access the wiki and tutorials from in-game via the Steam interface, and you will need to, more so if you never played the older SimCity games. There are myriads of little fiddly details that will make you face palm when you figure them out — such as your coal power plant needing to import coal if you don’t produce your own, and that ain’t going to happen if the truck driver has to fight his way through heavily congested traffic — and trust me, your citizens aren’t going to be happy when the power plants begin operating at lower output to preserve what little coal reserves they have left.

The Steam interface makes it easy to add and remove user created content. Users and Paradox both provide mods (that affect how the game is played and how things operate behind the scenes) and assets (ploppable or buildable things such as houses, highway crossings, cloverleafs, entire skeleton city districts…) Three days after release there were eight thousand mods and assets available for free, rated by users. Nom nom nom.

My only real issue at this time is the lack of documentation early on that comes from the wiki manual being user generated and driven. It’s going to take a few weeks before players have properly tested, understood, and explained how some of the more fiddly things work. All things considered, and more so how quickly I threw EA’s version away, I can live with that.