Sunday, December 17, 2006
And so here we are again, last week before Christmas. It's certainly going to be a long one. This is the week people go nuts looking for the last gifts on their shopping lists. It's when they have the most parties too. It's also one of our busiest weeks at the salon. I've got two 11 hour days to get through then things will be a little easier on me for a few days, then one final push before I can finally enjoy the holidays. I'm fairly certain I'll be worn out by Sunday.
This past week was a bit rough too in fact. I didn't get much time off to rest. Oh, I still had my usual 3 days but I spent a lot of that time working on things around the apartment. What really wore me out though was Monday's trip to Goodwill . . . more or less. You may remember that from the last blog entry. I took the old mattress over. And Tuesday, catching up on the housework. Cleaned up the apartment. Naturally it's dirty again but cleaning up tomorrow won't be nearly as exhausting.
Mostly it was work that wore me out. For the last few weeks we've had a rather odd pattern going in our business. Wednesdays have been super busy then nothing on Thursday or Friday. Then busy again on Saturday. It's a bit frustrating when that happens because I end up having too many hours on the schedule with no commission so all that work on Wednesday tends to be swallowed by my hourly pay. THIS week though I think I was destined for a little extra.
Wednesday was busy, make no doubt about that. I washed 13 dogs on Wednesday and made a really nice bit of money there. Thursday was very slow. So slow that I ended up catching up on all my cleaning THERE too. Guess that was the theme for the week, catch up on cleaning. Anyway, Friday things picked up again and they REALLY went into overdrive on Saturday. Saturday the smallest dog I washed was a golden retriever. Yes, that's right, a golden retriever. Actually I washed three of them, but you get the point. The biggest one was a samoyed. Picture a small polar bear only it's a dog :-)
What I should have done today was goof off but I just couldn't bring myself to do that. I slept in a bit, which helped a lot but we still had a few people to get Christmas presents for and I did NOT want to wait until later in the week or next weekend. That just wasn't an option. So CC and I spent most of the afternoon out shopping. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't as bad as work and we had fun doing it but I spend most of my normal day on my feet, walking around. It probably would have been better if I had done less walking today. Ah well, there's always tomorrow :-)
We also watched the Japanese version of Shall We Dance. Oh that one is a LOT better than the US version. It's just so much more charming without all those famous faces. Case in point, it's REALLY hard to see Richard Gere as anyone other than himself. Just LOOK at the guy! He spends the movie wearing the same drab, gray suit as the guy in the Japanese version does but there's just no hiding the fact that it's Richard Gere. And don't get me started about Jennifer Lopez's ever expanding butt.
I did make one noteworthy purchase this week. I got a new bird. I think I mentioned before that one of our parakeets passed away. He was a green one. Not the friendliest bird on the planet by far and he didn't always get along with the blue one. We were his fourth owner too so he got moved around quite a bit. If you've got a dark side, you're no doubt wondering if he really fell off his perch or if he was pushed ;-)
The new bird, no name, just arrived at the store a week ago or so. VERY pretty parakeet and on sale so I just couldn't pass it up. Isn't it cute? And rare too, at least as far as I've seen. We get lots of very nicely colored parakeets in the store but this is the first time I've ever seen one this white. You can't tell by the pictures but there are little bits of yellow on its back. And no, I don't intend to name it. I find that my fish and birds tend to last MUCH longer if they don't have names. I don't know why that is but that's just how things work in my little universe :-)
I also got a vcr today. That's right, you read the letters right, VCR not DVD or DVR. See, back in the old days, we used video tapes right? Well I managed to collect a large number of video tapes and over the years I've replaced some of them with dvds. That's all fine and good if the movie is available on dvd format for a reasonable price but lately the movies I've been looking for are either no longer in circulation or worse, they're "special editions" that have an extra disk filled with stuff I'll never watch and they're double the price. So for the price of one or two of these special editions, I bought a vcr. It's actually harder than you think. We were over at Best Buy and they didn't have any. You could get a dvd/vcr combo, sure but I didn't want to spend that kind of money and I didn't NEED a combo. Found one at Target though. They had ONLY one model in fact. I just hope those tapes last long enough for me to have the money to replace them :-)
Finally, you'll notice I'm reading TWO books at the moment. I don't normally do that. In fact, I try to AVOID doing that usually. But, the Murakami book is actually a collection of short stories and so I can pick it up and put it down as needed. I'll probably need a break from the Harris novel somewhere along the way. I just finished Dearly Devoted Dexter, another serial killer novel so I'll want to avoid burning out on the genre.
Time to go get some rest. Lots to do before I return to work. Lots of packages due to arrive too. I hope they get here soon. I HATE waiting :-)
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
So here we are, just a few weeks away from Christmas, and I've finished my last long weekend of 2006. From here on into 2007 I only have normal weekends at best. I'm pretty sure there's a week in there where I have to split my days off.
And how did I spend my last long weekend? Working. Can you belive it? I worked on things all weekend. Must be something wrong with me. Clearly when one has a nice bit of free time on ones hands, one does NOT spend it working right? Well, you'd think so anyway :-)
Sunday, well I didn't really work on Sunday. Sunday CC and I went out. No wait, actually we didn't really go OUT all day, but we did go out to dinner. She was feeling a bit run down and tired so we stayed in most of the day.
Things really kicked up on Monday though. I had a very long "to do" list and I managed to do just about everything on it. Spent a LOT of time out of the house though. Monday morning I put together a bag for Goodwill. I've been meaning to do this for a while now. Too many old pairs of shoes and things like that. For one reason or another I just didn't have the time or something kept came up. Anyway, I had a bag of stuff, took that over. Hit the mall after that to pick up a few presents and check out some ideas for presents. Came back to the apartment, lugged the old queen size mattress down from our third floor apartment, managed to shove it into the back of the Ranger and took THAT over to Goodwill too (I checked with them when I dropped off the first bag, they said they'd take it). Then it was over to the bank to deposit my check, then back home again for a small break and to do a shopping list. I also managed to squeeze in a shower, which I needed because lugging that mattress was work. After the break it was back out again to pick up CC then grocery shopping. Crossed off quite a few items on my list but not nearly enough I'm afraid.
Which brings us to today's reluctant productivity :-) I had a LOT of things left on my list from Monday. Ok, to be honest, I put too many things on Monday's list. There was no way I could have done everything. So I finished up today. Had to change the bedding in Keiko's cage (for some reason she bites CC when CC tries to do it) and the bird cage. I had vacuuming to do and the bathroom needed cleaning. Well, let's just say cleaning was the general theme for today and leave it at that :-)
One somewhat funny thing did happen though. We had this HUGE box leftover from the delivery of our Select Comfort bed. It was roughly the size of a small desk but not quite as high. Anyway, a box that big, not too many things you can use it for. You can't really use it for packing because if you filled it up, it'd be too heavy to carry. And as for storage, well it'd be great for that but we didn't have anything that NEEDED a box that big for storage. Shame to get rid of it but we just didn't have a use for it. I told CC I wasn't going to throw it out though. I'd set it by the trash compactor because surely SOMEONE would want that box, even if it was just the kids in the apartment complex looking for a new fort.
WELL, I carry this big thing down the stairs and as I'm crossing the parking lot I notice this little old Chinese lady over by the compactor. At first I was thinking she was going to throw stuff away but then I saw that she didn't have anything with her. So, maybe she's waiting for a ride or something. Nope. I get up to the compactor, set down the box and sure enough she comes over and gives me the universal hand signals for "I want that, don't throw it away please." So I tell her she can have the box and I start to empty out the few things I'd put in there for easier carrying. She helped as well and then I left it to her. Not sure what she was going to do with it. Maybe she has lots of things she needs to store or who knows, maybe she intends to use it for shipping something HUGE. Then again, maybe she wants to slice it up and use the large panels of cardboard for something.
So that was pretty much the story of the day. Tomorrow it's back to work. Not likely to be slow this week that's for sure. As I said earlier, just a few more weeks until Christmas which means people will be bringing their dogs in for a bath or trim. I probably should have tried to rest a little more but you know, things around the house needed doing too. Can't just shrug those off.
At least we got all of our mall stuff done. I don't want to go anywhere NEAR that place until after New Year's :-)
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
If you enjoy Chinese movies and liked Hero and House of Flying Daggers, here's one you don't want to miss. It's due out at the end of the month but it'll probably only show in New York and L.A. at first. Then it'll get wide release. I only hope it'll be showing here so I can see it BEFORE it comes out on video.
So, what's been going on over here for the past week? Nothing really earth-shattering or even major for that matter. We've pretty much been doing the usual and continuing down that December march towards Christmas.
I got CC's presents Monday. They're hidden in the apartment, hopefully well enough that she won't find them before I get them wrapped. So far so good. She doesn't know where to look or what size boxes to look for which gives me the advantage at the moment. I've got to get them wrapped soon though, just in case :-)
My mother's birthday is tomorrow (December 6) so we stopped by there tonight and dropped off her present. She's now a foster mother for dogs. Right now she's got a white Jack Russel terrier mix. Cute little guy. Of course she's still got the other three and they seem to be dealing with it ok for now.
Had two killer weeks in a row at work. Wore me out that's for sure. On the plus side though, it means I'll also have a killer paycheck. That's great because I spent quite a bit on CC's Christmas presents so I'll need that money ;-)
We were out at the mall on Sunday and already the traffic is heavier. There are a lot of people out there looking for early deals. We managed to find a few ourselves in fact. I picked up a puffy, down vest and CC got 4 sweaters. It gets cold this time of year, even in the south, so we need that warmer clothing.
We also got our Select Comfort bed finally. Last week they sent us the wrong bed guts. See, we were supposed to have the one where it's got two chambers in the mattress so CC can set her side to one level and I can set mine at a different one. Well, somewhere along the way there was some confusion because the one that arrived was just one big mattress with one control. She called them and they sent us replacement guts for the bed. I set it up this afternoon and it works great! We've been wanting a bed like that for a while and now we have it :-)
Should be hitting a slow point at work for the next week or so. This week should be pretty calm but it will pick up next week. Around the second week of December is when all the Christmas parties start and that means people want clean dogs. Then we'll have another really super busy week between Christmas and New Years and then things will die down again. As I understand it, after I reach a year with the company, I'll have about a month worth of time off. Can you believe it? A whole month? I can't take it all at once but still, that's a long time. Just one of the perks I get. Not going to complain about it that's for sure :-)
Finally saw The Da Vinci code last night. We picked it up while we were out shopping. I'm not sure why anyone called it controvercial. Seems to me they went well out of their way to make sure no one specific group was blamed for anything. True, they did make the Opus Dei folks look a bit nuts but it's not like they made any of that stuff up. Those folks really ARE hardcore Catholics.
Oh yeah, we got our Christmas decorations up too. I've got to get CC to take some pictures of them with her camera. I did a few with my PDA so I could show folks at work but the colors didn't come out very well. The light was a bit low so it looks sort of washed out.
Well, that's about all that comes to mind. Tomorrow it's back to the salon for me for another 4 days. Just enough time for us to regroup, get everything cleaned up and ready for the big push. That's just how it is in the fast-paced world of dog grooming ;-)
Saturday, November 25, 2006
CC and I have both been doing a little more shopping on eBay lately. It's sort of a phase we go through every few months. We'll go browsing through all the really cool items and pick up something or we'll get an idea off of TV or a movie or book and go through eBay seeing if we can find items tied to that.
If you've read CC's blog, you already know about her recent artwork purchases. She's always liked that particular painter but what ignited the current interest? What made her decide to buy so many prints? Who knows.
Naturally I'm hardly immune to this sort of thing myself. Usually I go looking for toys or posters or maybe even software. This time I went looking for a keyboard. No, not a computer keyboard. I wanted to see what they had available for my PDA. Yes you can get a keyboard for your PDA, at least I can anyway. It plugs into the same port everything else does and, well it's a keyboard. It folds up for storage, which is nice, but it allows me to do stuff like type a blog entry without having to use the slower interface built into the PDA itself.
I've also ordered a few other things. I was doing a search for Kabuki dolls (don't ask my why I was suddenly interested in that) when I came across carvings done by the Ainu. For those who don't know, the Ainu are the people who originally lived in Japan. They're the Japanese version of our American Indians. Turns out they were REALLY into bears. Their mythology states that bears are the spirits of the dead. Pretty cool I thought. So I ordered an Ainu bear carving from Japan. Should get here sometime in December. Shipping takes forever.
I also have an on-going search for decent, affordable kimono. I really do like those robes. They look nice worn or displayed on the wa.ll. The problem is, they're also very expensive, especially the really nice ones. Well you can imagine my surprise when I came across an eBay store with all sorts of vintage kimono. Ok that wasn't a surprise. What WAS a surprise was the link to the guy's internet store. I went over and checked that out and what do I find in the bargain bin? A set of 3 robes worn under your kimono. The prints on them are really nice and they have the traditional kimono shape so there's a good chance that one of these might end up on the wall and the others used as robes. I'll have to see them when they show up.
CC and I are doing all this shopping and it's not even Christmas. Worse, people keep asking what we want for Christmas and we have no idea. But then, you know, it's not like I can just add Ainu bear carving to my list right? You can't just run down to the mall and pick up one of those :-)
Managed to survive Black Friday but it was one hell of a busy day for me. In all, I worked almost 11 hours and pulled in my higest commission total this week by 40 cents. Fortunately the nine dogs I washed were spread out over the whole day or I'd have been much worse.
Of those nine dogs, 4 of them were large. I had 3 golden retrievers and a lab. Most of them were well-behaved but they tended to be a little TOO submissive. I would tell them what to do and usually they'd do it but when they got spooked or if I appeared to be a little too aggressive, they'd drop to the floor and roll over to show they weren't a threat. Ok, that's fine and dandy if we were fighting or something but getting a 75 pound dog into a kennel when it's flopped down as dead weight is NOT easy. I'm pretty sure I pulled something in my knee because after the second dog it was getting sore.
Unfortunately it wasn't as good of a day for my boss. She only had three dogs all day. All of her people were in before the holidays.
As far as business in the rest of the store goes, they didn't seem too over-worked. They had about the same number of people they'd get on a Saturday. In fact, apart from the free food in the break room, it seemed like a Saturday.
So now we can all relax a bit. Things will slow down for a week or so before we start the big push leading to Christmas and New Years. That'll be a SUPER busy period. People like to get their dogs cleaned up for special occasions and a LOT of people in the area have parties this time of year. The regulars will be in probably at least twice in December Then after that, when we hit January, it'll slow down a bit and drop into a normal pattern again and we'll all be able to relax until the big spring thaw and mass dog shave :-)
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Well, I managed to get through Gray Monday, Darker Gray Tuesday and Charcoal Gray Wednesday so I guess that just leaves Black Friday. Talk about a busy week. It's actually no longer in my financial interest to work any later than I have to. Seriously, I've earned over a week's pay in just 3 days. Got two more days left to work too I might add so the current total can go much higher depending on business.
And how will business be on Black Friday at the store? I have no idea :-) In fact, no one in the salon actually knows what business will be like tomorrow. It'll likely go one of two ways. Either we'll be SUPER busy tomorrow with people dropping off their pets while they go shopping or we'll be totally dead because everyone already got their dog done before Thanksgiving and they just don't need anything done right now. But again, which way it goes will entirely depend on how people are feeling tomorrow.
I had a look at the ads this morning and to be honest, there really isn't all that much out there for sale this year. I remember when we first started this madness several years ago. Best Buy would offer these totally insane deals from 6 am to noon. You'd be able to get a DVD player for 50 bucks (this back in the days when DVD players ran at least 100). All sorts of cool little special buys that they'd have JUST during the weekend. Lots of custom packs like, for example, a set of toys for your laptop: wireless mouse, numeric keypad, retractable cable for your network card. This year, nothing really jumps out at me.
You know, now that I think about it, it's been a few years since any store had any deals that I thought were so good I was willing to go check them out that early. There was the time Best Buy had the cheap laptops, but of course they were sold out by the time we got there and we ended up getting a better one at Dell anyway. What's worse, even the computers that they do put on sale these days never list the speed they run at. I see processor, I see model number but nothing on the speed. So maybe it's a good deal, maybe it's not. You won't know until you get there at 4 am to get your ticket for the 5 am opening.
Naturally you can forget picking up a Playstation 3 or a Nintendo Wii. Those were all sold out the day they first came out. I suppose if you wanted to you could probably find some games for them so that when you DO get your game console you can play them, but what's the point?
Honestly, these businesses better start offering better deals or people will just sleep in on Black Friday. No sense in fighting with the crowds over stuff that's only on sale for 2 bucks cheaper.
My holiday was pretty good. More of the usual I suppose. We went over to my parents' house for lunch. I took my Sony Playstation (note, not PS2 or PS3, this is one of the FIRST Playstations) over along with my Nintendo DS and some games. Yeah, the graphics might not be as cool as the new stuff and I don't have those fancy and fun-looking wireless controllers but we still had fun beating the snot out of each other in the fighting games.
I also watched a little bit of football and I do mean a LITTLE bit. I think I saw maybe 2 minutes of the first game, about that much of the second game. Played a few games of pool with CC and really that was about it. Oh, well ate of course.
Speaking of football, that's another thing that was annoying this year. What was probably the best game of the day wasn't even running on network TV. Wasn't running on the big cable networks either. No, it was running over on the NFL network. What does that mean? Well, it means if you have cable, you probably didn't get the game since Time-Warner doesn't have the NFL network. If you have Dish Network or Direct TV you may have it but it probably costs extra. What a pain. Bad idea. Very bad idea. Instead we got yet another year of sub-par football. Miami and Detroit? What a snoozer. Ok, I DID enjoy watching Dallas beat up on Tampa Bay for a little while but that got old too.
Still, all things considered, a good Thanksgiving for me :-)
Oh, hey, did you catch CC's blog entry about the new GPS we got for the truck? Yeah, we got a portable GPS for the truck because CC tends to get a little lost sometimes while driving. When she was on a business trip, the car they rented had a GPS system in it and she really liked it. It does give you a pretty strong sense of security knowing you can just punch in the address of where you're going and this little box will tell you how to get there. It'll even help you get back on course if you make a wrong turn. In fact, because of that handy little feature, CC has been TRYING to confuse the GPS by telling it where we want to go, then PURPOSELY not following the directions. This happens most often when she takes me to work. There are several different ways you can go depending on which back roads you want to take. Oh, and today we found an alternative route to my parents' house, one that takes us through a very rich neighborhood. She's really having fun with it and ranks it right up there with our Dyson vacuum cleaner on our list of good investments :-)
Thursday, November 16, 2006
The results from this season's Dancing With The Stars are in. Took me by surprise, that's for sure but then again, I haven't actually been watching it either.
Let me just say, as a long-time Dallas Cowboys and Emmit Smith fan, way to go Emmit!
You can see highlights from Emmit and Mario Lopez here.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Cinemax is running all 6 of the Star Wars movies today . . . in order according to number so the newer series comes first, then the old ones. We saw part of it this morning and it reminded me of this really funny clip from Robot Chicken. Here, check it out.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Today is election day! Finally! That means in just another week or so we won't have to listen to anymore election news! WOO HOO! I'm not sure right now which is worse, all the Christmas stuff already being crammed down my throat or all this election nonsense. I can honestly say I understand why some people don't vote.
What's really bad is the army of lawyers now deployed around the country to make sure this is a FAIR election. Yeah right, like I'm buying THAT one. Oh there may be a small percentage out there trying to be ready in case the other side mounts a challenge but I'm guessing that most of them are out there trying to be ready in case their candidate loses. They'll want to find a reason for a recount or to throw out certain votes. The whole thing has gotten out of hand. Hell you can't even require someone to show a photo ID anymore. Talk about inviting fraud.
The only really good thing I can note is that the coverage on the networks has quietly slipped away. Used to be they'd run election coverage the whole night. It'd start during the evening news and it'd keep going until they had results from the west coast. Now they don't even really bother with anything other than a little scroll at the bottom of the screen until 9 or so.
Folks at work wonder what'll happen after the election. I keep telling them nothing will happen. Yeah, maybe some new faces pop up but most of the old ones will still be there. Things will still run as slow as ever and nothing will really get done. Worst that will happen is that some of congress will change sides in which case we'll have even MORE creative bitching going on. That'll probably end up being entertaining :-)
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Well that certainly was a bit of a letdown. Halloween ended at around 8:00. That's the last time anyone knocked on the door trick or treating. Worse, we hardly had anyone come all night. I know we're on the third floor and all but still.
I even made sure not to buy as much candy as last year because we had so much left over. Well, we STILL have a lot left over because hardly anyone came. Clearly it's not the holiday it used to be. Somewhere along the way Halloween lost its thrill. Even the movies on TV tonight were pretty bad. Used to be horror movies on just about every channel. Now, hardly any.
I wonder if this sort of thing happened everywhere or just here in our apartment complex.
Well here we are, Halloween. Time to kick off the Christmas season. Actually, judging by the stores, it's already Christmas. We were out food shopping yesterday and they already had the Halloween stuff pushed to the "seasonal clearance" area and were pulling out the Christmas stuff.
Remember when you didn't see much Christmas stuff until after Thanksgiving? When I was working at Kmart, we started putting SOME stuff out 10 weeks before Christmas so people could take advantage of the Layaway program but we never had the decorations and lights and stuff out that early. In fact, they were always looking for volunteers to work on Thanksgiving day. Keep in mind this was in the days when stores weren't open 24-7. Anyway, whoever worked on Thanksgiving had to take down all the Thanksgiving stuff and box it up and drag out all the Christmas stuff so it would be ready first thing day after Thanksgiving. And even then we didn't have most of the displays up until a few days later.
Pretty soon every store will have their Christmas tree forest set up and the pre-Holiday sales will begin. I like it better the old way when you didnt' even THINK about Christmas until well after you'd recovered from your turkey-coma.
Not sure what the holidays are like at work. I know we'll be busy. Everyone will want to get their dog all cleaned up for parties and travel. Other than that, I have no idea. I started work the last week of December so the only holiday I was actually there for was New Years. We were pretty damn crowded before New Years. We were totally dead on New Years Day and things tapered off a bit until the spring.
Back to work for me tomorrow. I've had so much time off lately I've been getting a little stir crazy. I'm just not used to having this much free time on my hands. Not that it's been entirely FREE mind you. I've had plenty of things to keep me busy. It's just odd spending this much time away from the salon.
I was talking with one of the guys on Friday when I picked up my check. I said, "You know, it's like I'm either ALWAYS here or NEVER here." That's how my schedule has been. I'm either there almost every day or I've got a long string of days off. That will change now. The schedule has settled in and I'll go back to working the 4-day week.
Tomorrow I'll be pulling down the Halloween decorations and cleaning up the salon again. Everything back to normal, more or less :-)
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Wednesday 10:00 PM EST
Well, here we are. Last day of our vacation here. Tomorrow morning we head back to Memphis and back to work. CC has the rest of the week off so she doesn't go back until Monday. Unfortunately, I'm needed back at the salon to help with the weekend rush. It was a short break for me but that's better than none at all plus we both had a great time.
Today was spent tieing up loose ends. CC wanted to go back to Boyd's Bears to build a bear herself so that's where we started the day. On our first trip it was closed so we were sure to get there early.
Their version of bear building is a little different than Build-a-Bear. For starters, they have it set up like a factory or construction zone. The builder, CC, gets a yellow hard hat and a lanyard with a name tag and time card. As you progress down through each stage, you punch a time clock.
These bears are beanie bears so there's no need for a fluff-shooting machine. They give you a measuring cup that you fill with beads from a set of vats. Each vat has a different chracteristic for your bear. CC filled her bear with extra patience beads because she often gets too excited and hates waiting :-)
Next you sew yor bear shut and go pick out clothes. CC chose a nice Chinese set for hers. It's pretty cute too. It even comes with little bear slippers. As a bonus, we got a free bear bathrobe and slippers, also very cute.
Next stop was the As Seen On TV store. As the name implies, they sell all those things you see in commercials. They certainly had a wide selection but nothing jumped out at us so we left.
Final stop was Applewood's again. It's a good place to pick up souvenirs for people and that's what we got.
At that point we'd done everything we'd planned on doing this trip so we headed back to the hotel. After a bit of rest we hit a Chinese buffet for dinner and that was that.
Now we have to shift gears and head on home. It's been nice having so much time and so little to worry about. Been a whil since we both were able to enjoy some stress-free days.
Not sure when we'll get another vacation with travel. Not sure where we'd travel to either. There are still lots of places we'd like to see. But you can be sure we'll document all our adventures for better or worse.
1. You can tell what type of people usually come here by what cable stations they have. Mostly we get sports, religion, and shopping. Oh we get a few of the other big name networks like USA and TBS but not much else.
2. There are a lot of dog people here. Quite a few hotels here are pet friendly.
3. Up and down the main strip you see signs for all the live shows. Unfortunately most of them are either hillbilly or gospel shows. They even have a theater that does the passion play twice a night. Has camel rides in the parking lot too.
4. Vacations are nice but only if you have a home to return to.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Tuesday 9:30 PM EST
GREAT NEWS! I woke up feeling much better after a restless night's sleep. I'm not sure what it was that did the job. Maybe it was a combination of things. I wasn't 100% but I was more than well enough.
Today we went to the Biltmore Estate which is about an hour and a half from here over in North Carolina. That may seem like a long drive to some but it is totally worth the drive.
For starters, this isn't some trip through boring farm land or prarie scrub. The Biltmore is on the other side of the Smokey Mountains so you drive though some gorgeous scenery.
The estate itself belongs to the Vanderbilt family. Yes, THAT Vanderbilt family. One of the richest families in the world from way back. Unlike a lot of the super rich though, they were pretty generous with their money. There's a reason why so many schools, hospitals and libraries have buildings named after one Vanderbilt or another.
The first impression you get is that this is one huge chunk of property. Sure is. It's so big you really can't grasp it. Then you see the model of it in the welcoming area. They've made a scale model of the entire estate grounds showing you where the various buildings are.
We went to the main house which looks like the kind of manor houses you see in Europe. It's more like a small castle. As you walk into the entrance hall, right away it's hard to imagine someone actually living there. It's just o HUGE!
We took the audio tour. That's one of those self-paced tours where you get an MP3 player and punch in the number of the room you're in. You walk the whole house, four floors and a basement and it take two hour or so. Actually you skip two big sections but given the layout of the house, the missed rooms are just more guest bedrooms and servant quarters.
Walking through you see quite a bit of history and not just from the US. Remember, these people have serious money so they've acquired quite a collection of items from Europe. They have a chess set that belonged to Napoleon. Some of the tapestries were woven in the 1500's. Two tapestries belonged to Cardinal Richelieu.
They have a wonderful library as well. George Vanderbilt had over 10,000 volumes in different languages. The room itself only housed part of it but it's two stories high. It even has secret doors so guests could sneak in and borrow a book without bothering everyone.
We went through the house and the gardens. There are several other buildings including a winery but we'd already run out of energy. It's the kind of place that really takes more than one visit to see everything.
Drove back to the hotel, had some dinner, and that was it. We'd set the day aside for just that trip and it took up the whole day.
Tomorrow is our last day here. It's sort of an open day. No real plans. We'll hit some of the smaller stores we've been driving by the past two days. We may go back to Gatlinburg or to the park. Not sure yet.
1. Wouldn't you know it, cold on Monday so we dress warm. Today it's all rain. Weather forecasts aren't very accurate here.
2. Not as many old people at the Biltmore. We were only out-numbered 7 to 1.
3. Saw lots of bored husbands and kids. The Biltmore, to kids, must be really dull stuff.
4. The trees in NC had more color.
5. CC fell asleep on the way back. She just slowly leaned over to her left until she was hanging from the seat belt. It was funny and cute but I couldn't get a picture because I was driving obviously, and the roads were too twisty.
6. Folks in Memphis rave about Graceland and the tour there but after what I saw today Graceland sucks. :-)
Monday, October 23, 2006
Monday 10:00 PM EST
I am sick. No, not in the sense that I'm twisted . . . although. I mean I am ill. Before we left Memphis I was coming down with something. Now I've got something. To be more specific, I have a pretty good fever going here. But I'll get to that in a bit.
Today started off with free breakfast with the old folks. There was a tour group staying here and they left this morning.
After a shower we went to the big craft show. Big. Very big. Also very convenient. All the big locals were there so it saved us lots of driving and walking. CC went nuts over the candles and I picked up some really cool miniature flowers. We chatted with the guy selling them about bar-b-que.
After the fair we went to the aquarium. Along the way we ordered a wood sign that says The Slish Family. CC wanted one to hang outside the apartment.
The aquarium was great! Ok pretty much the same as two years ago but it was cool then too!
On the way back we stopped at a little store that sells pet things and picked up some cute figurines. One type features a dog dressed like an angel. The other like a devil. We got one each for Katya and Jack. Very appropriate in fact.
We picked up our sign and by then I was feeling pretty blah. We stopped at a grocery store for a few things then came back to the hotel so I could rest.
After a nap and some sinus meds I felt fine again so we went to the Boyd's Bears store. It's HUGE! They have everything too or at least they did. They got bought out and some moron decided to close the big place here and concentrate on wholesale. We did buy lots of stuff though. T-shirts, a hat, a bear or two of course.
Came back and took CC to Long John Silvers. She'd never been and I hadn't been since Texas. Still the same. Everything is deep fried.
When we got back, that's when I took a turn for the worse. Got the chills and didn't shake them for a few hours. Then I got real hot. Now I'm in between. What really sucks is that I can't sleep and we're supposed to go to The Biltmore Estate tomorrow. We've really been looking forward to it so I better get better damn it!
Time for some rest . . .
1. Spent a lot of time chatting with vendors today. They have cool stories about what goes on here.
2. Right now CC and I are out-numbered by old people 10 to 1
3. People have a morbid fascination with sting rays now that the Croc Hunter is gone. The sting ray tank at the aquarium was packed.
4. Some guy at Long John Silvers really liked my Mickey Mouse jacket.
5. Being sick on vacation sucks.
6. Having CC fuss over me when I'm sick really helps. So does my new teddy bear :-)
Sunday, October 22, 2006
CC and I are back from vacation! Now we're catching up on all the things we missed while we were gone. First thing of note that we did was get a new vacuum cleaner. Our old one just wasn't cutting it anymore. Didn't pick up much at all. I'm sure you all know the signs. Anyway, this time we got a Dyson DC17 Animal. CC ran it when we got home and all I can say is DAMN! I had no idea our rugs were that dirty!
You may have noticed yet another change in the layout of the blog. Yeah, didn't really like the three column look as much as I hoped. CC said it looked too busy. She's probably right about that too. Just didn't quite turn out how I hoped. I browsed through the standard templates and decided that Dots has the layout I want. I'll probably change the graphics over time. New background, new bullets, new pictures. But for now, this works for me.
Ok, as I said, we're back from vacation. Time to post the vacation blog so you know what we were up to. I'm not going to post it all at once. I'll post it day-by-day according to the corresponding day from last week. This way I can stretch the material out because I won't really have time to do any real posting again until Thursday due to my work schedule :-) So, let's start with . . .
Sunday 9:00 PM EST
The trip took about six and a half hours. We left this morning at around six. CC drove the first two hours because I was in no shape to drive. That early you're lucky I can walk.
There wasn't any real traffic until we got to Sevierville. That little town has really built up over the past two years and not for the better. Traffic heading away from the mountains is always bad on Sunday as people end their vacations and go home. Now it's much worse.
Pigeon Forge is still pretty much the same as before. It was already mostly full so there wasn't much else they could cram in. Most of the traffic is gone now though. It's just me and CC and all them old people :-)
We had dinner at Applewoods. That's our favorite place to eat here. We both forgot how much food they give you. Good food and lots of it. I'll probably put on a few pounds.
That was it for day one. After all that driving my butt was sore and the constant changes in air pressure had my nose all messed up. We decided to just rest up and start the real vacation tomorrow. Besides, it's Sunday so everything closes early.
Tomorrow we're going to Gatlinburg. There's a big craft/art show at the convention center and we'll also go to the National Park. Should be lots of fun and shopping! :-)
1. The leaves look great! Lots of color.
2. Funny story. First thing we did after unpacking was check e-mail. Yes, we're nerds.
3. Miss the pets. It seems so strange not to have the dogs or the hamsters. Life with no pets would suck.
4. Might do some early Christmas shopping here. We can get unique gifts at affordable prices.
5. Saw a woman spend nearly $80.00 on candy today. That's a lot of fudge and taffy.
More tomorrow . . . I hope . . .
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Well I've had a rather relaxing mini-vacation the past three days. Over the past 6 days I've only had to work 1. Last week I had those two bonus days off on Thursday and Friday then I worked Saturday and then we went back to the old schedule which had me off Sunday through Tuesday thus I got all my missed days off at once. It makes up for all those times I ended up having to work 6 days in a row to get my days off because of changes in the schedule.
Can't say that I really did much last week. If you've read CC's blog you know the big highlight there. We've added another member to our growing zoo. We've adopted a hamster. He's a cream colored syrian, medium length hair at the moment and I think that's where he's going to stay. As far as I can tell he's reached adulthood so if he was a long haired hamster he'd be woolier by now.
So, if you're keeping track that's one cream syrian (male), one mottled black campbell's russian (male) and one traditional colored campbell's russian (female). Three hamsters, three cages. At night they all run in their respective wheels and during the day they all curl up in cute little hamster balls. They're clean, they don't smell and they don't bite. When I get a chance, I'll add some new pictures of them.
Sunday we had a great time. Call it Mexican theme day. We attended a performance ofBallet Folklorico de Mexico de Amalia Hernandez. That is a fantastic show. If you get a chance, if they happen to be stopping near you while on tour, go and see them. You'll love it.
I've actually seen them before, but in pieces. Small groups of their dancers or former dancers would perform at all the big festivals down in San Antonio. But until Sunday I'd never actually went to their formal show. WOW was that a treat!
Afterwards we went out for Mexican food of course. That wasn't intended but after seeing the closing numbers for the first and second acts, well it reminded me of fiesta which reminded me of eating good food which reminded me that I haven't had good Mexican food in a while. So we tried a place over by my parents' house. Good food and lots of it.
About the only productive things I've done over the past two days involve grocery shopping and some web work. Oh, and a little light cleaning. I've sort of spread everything out because I've had so much time off. It's weird. I haven't had any holidays or vacations since I started in January so having this much time off at once, well I wasn't sure what to do. Just not used to so much free time. I can say though that I did manage to finish up quite a few little items that I've had to put off for one reason or another.
Next week I'll be on vacation. We're taking a short trip to the mountains. It'll be my first real vacation since I started work and our first vacation out of town since we got married. It's not that we haven't tried to take more time off or take a trip sooner it's just that our schedule never allowed for it. Needless to say we're due :-)
The only problem I have now is that I need to push through 4 long days at the salon and at some point find time to pack and such for this trip. That means checking the weather forecasts, tracking down clothes, bagging up shampoos and so forth. We've also got to truck the pets over to my parents. They'll be hosting the zoo while we're out.
Once we get back things will get all serious again really quick. CC's boss has her jewelry show. We've got Halloween. Business will pick up for the holidays at work plus I'll be in training as a groomer. I'm thinking time will fly by when we get back. It'll all be a blur. Got to enjoy the slow time while I can :-)
Thursday, October 05, 2006
Well, it being fall, there are always a few, obvious changes going on all around us. For starters, it's much more comfortable outside. The air's not as hot nor as humid and you tend to get a bit of a breeze blowing. You also get the big change in color too. What was once green is now slowly turning orange or red or yellow or brown.
I thought I'd get with the spirit of the season and change the colors here too. Tell me what you think.
Sunday, October 01, 2006
Like any responsible blogger, I like to throw in some posts for the benefit of the public. As you all know, we don't get near enough exercise in the US. We also have a really big problem with English proficiency. Well, the Japanese have come up with a way to solve both problems at once. That's right, English lessons and a work out in one! I've put two examples on the side bar. They teach very useful phrases in English combined with a light work out. Perfect for busy, corporate types who never seem to have enough hours in the day.
Ok, in all fairness, this isn't WILD in the sense it was REALLY exciting with lots of weird experiences like you see in the movie. I guess it'd be more accurate to say it was a strange weekend. Sure was all over the map.
You may recall from previous posts that this was my first full weekend off since January. One constant for me since I started working at the pet store is that I've worked Saturdays. Every Saturday since January I have worked. The times I work change. I've worked mornings, I've worked evenings. But I've always worked.
Needless to say when my boss set up a schedule in which I wasn't working Saturday or Sunday, I didn't exactly hold my breath that it would work. I figured it would work longer than it DID but I never expected it to be a permanent shift.
Saturday morning I'm lounging around in bed, enjoying my first Saturday off in 8 months when CC comes in and jokes about how we should hide the cell phone. She also mentions that it's already rang once and right then I KNEW it wasn't going to be good. It's like when you get a phone call at 2 in the morning. You hope it's a wrong number because no one ever calls for a good reason at 2 in the morning.
As I suspected, it was my boss. The girl we hired last week didn't show up and things were falling behind in the salon. When that happens you've really got to work to get things back on track or the whole day will be shot. Customers will call looking for their dogs. When they pick them up, if they find even the smallest mistake, they'll complain about it. Just not a happy situation.
Anyway, things were falling behind and she wanted me to come in for a few hours, just to help get caught up. She joked that CC could come along and help too if she wanted. Of course, that was actually what CC had in mind. Her reasoning was that she could either stay home and mope about me not having the whole day off or she could come with me, help out, get things done faster and try to enjoy it.
After a quick breakfast we went down to the salon. It only took us about 45 minutes to get everything caught up. Three dogs. That's all we had to do. You'd be surprised how much of a difference that can make though. With CC and I washing dogs in the back, that freed up the groomer to answer the phones and do the haircuts.
And to think, I was going to try and avoid going anywhere NEAR the salon :-)
Still, we did have a pretty good time with it. CC seemed to enjoy working with the dogs. We joked that if the bottom ever falls out of the call center market, she's got a future in dog grooming.
The rest of the day went much better. Shopping, shopping and, of course, more shopping. I made the mistake of suggesting we stop off at Michael's since we were in the area. That's one of those arts and crafts stores in case you don't have one. CC had a ball picking out new decorations for the apartment. It's fall now so that means we should have fall colors all over the place. Looks really nice in fact. She'll be posting pictures on her blog soon.
Me, I did something I've been wanting to do for a while now. I bought computer software. Not just any software mind you, but GAMES! It's been a while since I was able to buy games with confidence, knowing that my machine could run them smoothly. Now that I've got this new Dell pretty much set up, I can use it to have a little fun too. I picked up two games, both of them a little old actually. Even though I could have gotten something more recent and high tech, I went with Pirates! and Knights of the Old Replubic. The first is NOT a game tie-in with Pirates of the Carribean. It's been around longer than that. It's the third version of a once popular game in which you play, big surprise here, a pirate. The other game is a Star Wars game that was VERY popular last year. When I first saw them the cost 40 bucks a shot each. Saturday they were on sale for 15. Go figure. Well if nothing else my game software will be cheap for a while. Lots of games from last year that I still need to catch up on and they're all in the 15-20 dollar range.
Today hasn't been nearly as fun. For CC and I Monday means back to work again and neither of us is looking forward to it. For her, she's got a big client launch thing coming up so there's lots of work. For me it means dealing with the loss of yet another bather. We'll have to revamp the schedule yet again. Two more weeks. That's all I have to hold on for. In two weeks I get my vacation and everything will be at peace for 5 days :-)
I suppose this sort of thing, these problems that crop up at work, should bother me more but you know, if this sort of thing didn't happen to me every few weeks what WOULD I have to blog about? :-)
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
I've got a dirty job. In case there's any doubt, we'll go to the expert on dirty jobs, the show Dirty Jobs on The Discovery Channel. There it is, down there in season 2, from November 1, 2005. And while I may not yet be an offical dog groomer, neither was the host on the day he filled in at the grooming salon. I do everything he did and I do it every day. Just part of my job.
What I've noticed about the folks on Dirty Jobs is that most of the people don't seem to mind that they have a dirty job. There are some pretty harsh working conditions out there but the folks doing the jobs, crawling through the sewers, sticking God knows what into cattle, etc., seem to be just fine with what they're doing. And they've ALL got a sense of humor about it.
It makes me wonder: are the people who do dirty jobs drawn to them in some way or does the job change the way you look at things to the point where you just adjust to it? Well, I'm pretty sure it's not the latter. I've outlasted 3 bathers already so I can saw with some confidence that the job doesn't really mold you into the kind of person who can deal with it. So, I guess it's probably true that some of us are just better built for dirty jobs. We can deal with them, do the job, even have a little fun with them.
Which reminds me, I don't mind going to work, and that's odd. I don't think I've ever had a job where I didn't mind going to work. This week, for example, I've only got one day off. It's just a trick of the schedule actually. My days off are being shifted to Saturday and Sunday. That means I had to work Monday this week which left me with just the one day off between work weeks. I've also, in the past, been called in and had to work a 6 day week. But I didn't really mind. Guess I'm meant for a dirty job eh?
Been reading a bio of Teddy Roosevelt. It's a really good book actually. I'm not usually one to read biographies unless it's required for a class but I'm enjoying this one.
The book covers the early years of Roosevelt and his rise to power. It starts with his birth and ends with him receiving a telegram that President McKinley has died and that he, as Vice President, needs to return to Washington from his brief trip to the country.
The story is really very interesting, as is TR. Most people sort of have the view of him as the leader of the Roughriders and all that. The whole Bull Moose party and so forth so it's rather odd to see at the beginning that he's very frail, has asthma all the time, all sorts of physical problems. It isn't until he's older that he starts in with the physical fitness stuff. Even more odd is the idea that he was going to become a scientist, maybe a biologist or something like that. Always out studying nature. He had a photographic memory and was probably at or damn near genious in intelligence. That's not really what comes to mind with Roosevelt.
Anyway, the title and author are up there at the top of the post. Have a look next time you're in the book store.
I'm getting a new computer. Not the whole thing, just the box and guts. I already have the monitor (see the earlier post where I detailed how the monitor died). I went to the Dell outlet store online and found a good deal on a scratch and dent item. Granted it's not the very latest in computer tech which would cost me a couple thousand dollars but it can run anything on the market today and stuff likely to come out for a while. I actually put together a similar machine from scratch in the "build your own" section and the computer I'm getting would cost about 1200 with all the little extras that come with it. Needless to say I'm not paying THAT much. I'm paying more like a third of that, all because there's some sort of scratch or dent on the case. Hell I never look at the computer's case anyway. It's down there under the desk. What do I care what it looks like? I only care how it runs and this one should run well.
It's due to arrive at the end of the week or maybe early next week. I'll be a happy camper once I get it all set up. My current machine has really been starting to lag out on me. It just doesn't have enough power to run the fancy programs and web pages out there today.
All in all, it's done rather well though. I got it 6 years ago and it still runs fine. I'm going to take off most of the programs on it and use it for mass storage. It's going to be tied into the network and funciton mostly as a HUGE closet :-)
Monday, September 18, 2006
I'm falling behind. Seriously, every time I cross something off my to do list more things pop up. Couldn't say for sure why there's suddenly a huge demand for my time but there is. That's not to say I'm working myself to death mind you. In fact, my days at work have been REALLY slow. We're in a bit of a dead zone; people don't really get their dogs groomed right now. The monthly shavings are dropping off due to cooler temperatures. No special occasions until October. So the only time we get a rush is after it rains. Dogs just LOVE to go out and play in the mud :-)
So, let's catch up on a few things. I'll try to keep them short because if I don't, this entry will be long even for me.
First up, the Hamster Derby. Now, since I am an employee, I wasn't allowed to officially enter my hamsters in the derby. Can't win prizes you see and running them in the races would just mess everything up. What I DID do was run them in the remaining "extra" lane when the track wasn't full. We got in a few runs and let me tell you, if I HAD been allowed to enter for real, we'd have come home with a ribbon and prize. One thing about training hamsters to run in a ball with dogs in the house, noise is not a factor. I saw it in several races. Hamsters were running fine until they got to the end, closer to all that yelling and cheering. Then they'd stop or turn around. Not MY hamster though. She just kept on moving and moving FAST :-)
Shopping for anniversary presents. You saw that one on CC's blog already. I got videos and games, she got cooking stuff. No, don't boo and hiss at me, that was HER choice. I'd have gotten her anything she wanted but she wanted cooking stuff. In fact, we've already used a lot of it. But we'll get to that later.
We also tried a restaurant near the mall called J Alexander's. You may have one near you, they're a chain. Great food! We stuffed ourselves and still brought back plenty of leftovers. Got to love that :-)
New Star Wars. Have you seen this? It was on my list to get for my anniversary. Actually, they're not really new Star Wars. They're old Star Wars, or as many Star Wars fans put it: Star Wars before George Lucas went nuts and messed them all up. What was funny was that most of the guys buying the videos were buying the same ones as me, Star Wars and Return of the Jedi. Why? Because those are the ones Lucas went most nuts on. The changes in The Empire Strikes Back all were positive and mostly just to improve the special effects.
Had a visit from the corporate office last week. We passed with flying colors. Got lucky there. They showed up during the slowest week of the year so we had plenty of time to spruce things up.
Lost my 3-day weekends again. We had to cut back hours at the salon due to the drop in sales so that means we all work a few less hours. That means more periods where just one person staffs the salon. So rather than working the 4 long days, I'm working 5 shorter ones. In all I think I'm only working 4 hours less than before. I'm sure this is only temporary though. Once things pick up again we'll be working more hours.
Vacation is just a few weeks away! WOO HOO! Got to love that! And it's cooling off so it'll be a nice fall break!
Anniversary stuff. Had a GREAT time! Made cookies Sunday morning. That's really a lot of fun. Usually we just make cookies for Christmas but while we were getting anniversary stuff for CC, we got a whole bunch of cookie cutters which naturally had to be tested right? So we made a batch of cookies. They turned out great and are already half gone :-)
After the cookies, we went to go look for a Halloween costume for CC. The past few years we waited until it was a bit closer to the 31st which meant we had fewer options available. It was nice to go into the party store and see that they still had EVERYTHING. And no crowd either.
Dinner at Mikasa. I love that place. Best miso soup! CC's got the details on her blog.
Wow, is it that late? Damn. And I'm working tomorrow. Hope that covered everything. I'm pretty sure we're all caught up now, or at least I've covered the important stuff :-)
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
It's almost fall, and with the change in seasons comes the good and the bad.
Good: Football is starting.
Bad: Freakin allergies.
Good: Baseball is moving into the playoffs.
Bad: Freakin allergies.
Good: Cooler temperatures means I can open the apartment up.
Bad: Freakin allergies!
Good: The leaves change colors and it looks really pretty out there.
Bad: FREAKIN ALLERGIES!
Did I mention that I have allergy problems in fall? Yeah, same as the spring really. In the spring it's because of the flowers. In the fall, it's usually grass and crepe mertles. Hate them damn things. Oh sure they LOOK pretty, flowers all over the trees and so forth but they REALLY get me stuffy and in Memphis, they're EVERYWHERE!
Ah well, won't be long now before they lose their leaves and flowers and become sticks again. Besides, in fall, there's always more good than bad :-)
CC and I both had a long weekend this week. She had Labor Day off and, well I always have a long weekend owing to my 10-hour work days. We both wanted to DO something with that extra day but we weren't sure what. Naturally we decided to go shopping :-)
It wasn't looking like a good shopping trip at first. We'd gone to the outdoor mall over in one of the other suburbs and nothing was really jumping out at us. THEN we went to the bookstore. Oh yes, the shopping began.
Now, in all fairness, it's REALLY easy for me to burn off a LOT of money in a book store. All I have to do is start browsing and pretty soon I've got more books than I can carry. What was funny was watching CC do the same thing. She doesn't usually go nuts but she sure did on Sunday.
Started as soon as we walked in the door. They had a display of these Mad Magazine books for bathroom reading. Thick books with lots of clips from Mad. Well we just HAD to get one of THOSE :-) Then she started browsing through the bargain section while I checked for books by "The Usual Suspects", authors I normally read. She was doing ok at that point but then she remembered that she's going to be helping the boss' nanny with her English and American culture. Let the shopping begin!
30 minutes later she's over in the reference section digging through a display of Spark charts and she tells me, "We may be here for a while."
In all we spent about an hour and a half in the book store and just over 100 dollars. Not bad when you realize that at one point we were carrying WELL over 200 dollars worth of stuff. We cut back :-)
It was also funny when she saw one of the books I was getting. It's a biography of Teddy Roosevelt. She picks it up, flips through it a little then shakes her head. "I don't know HOW you can read stuff like this. It would take me forever to wade through all this and I'd only do it if it was required for a class or something." Oh I just had to laugh at that one :-) She's right, of course. Most people wouldn't wade through stuff like that unless forced. Me, well I like to shake things up with my reading :-)
Speaking of reading, the latest Murakami book came out last week and I've already got a copy. Pre-ordered it online. This time he's released a book of short stories so if you prefer long fiction you may want to hold off. On the other hand, even his short stories are great and it's nice to have something on hand to read that doesn't require a long commitment. According to the introduction, he writes short stories between novels. He sort of alternates between the two.
This fall we also get another James Ellroy movie. If the name sounds familiar, he's the guy who wrote the book L. A. Confidential. The movie starred Russel Crow, Guy Pearce and Keven Spacey and was excellent. Unfortunately it came out around the same time as Titanic.
The latest movie is based on his novel The Black Dahlia which is based on an actual case that shook the country at the time. A woman was found dead in a vacant lot. The more the detectives looked into the case, the more it was clear she'd gotten into a lot of creepy, underworld type stuff. No one really knew who she was and the murder was never officially solved. It's been the subject of other books and a few documentaries. I have no idea if this particular movie will be good but the novel is great and so is the cast. Time will tell.
Coming out this Christmas is another of those great Chinese movies. Zhang Yimou has gotten together with Chow Yun Fat and his old partner Gong Li (they dated for a long time and she was in a LOT of his earlier films). Once again he's doing a historical epic and it looks like it's going to be a great one. You remember how cool Hero was and House of Flying Daggers. Well, have a look at the trailers for Curse of the Golden Flower. I always try to see these movies in the theater but I rarely do. This is Memphis. They just don't get distributed very well here. If we're lucky they play for a few weeks in some creepy, run-down theater in a bad neighborhood that's supposed to show all the "art flicks". So, I may have to wait and catch this one on video. Still, it looks like it's going to be a great one!
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Did you ever notice how short the weekend is? I feel a bit like Andy Rooney now. That's the way he'd start one of his segments on 60 Minutes. Still, it's true isn't it? And it doesn't seem to matter how many days you get in a weekend, they always seem so short. I'm just wrapping up a 3-day weekend and it seems like I just left work. Tomorrow I'll be right back in the swing of things for 4 days (which will feel like an eternity) then another weekend. I imagine I'd feel the same way if it was a 4-day weekend too.
The same is true of vacations. I'll finally get some time off in October and that'll be great but I know how it's going to turn out. The first day will be fantastic. I'll have the whole rest of my vacation in front of me. The second day, not as good as the first but still, plenty of time. It'll keep up like that until I hit the middle of the vacation, at which point I'll start to dread the days ahead. 3 days left, then 2, then 1, then back to work again.
I remember when I was a kid it was the same way. Remember summer vacation? Man, that first week was FABULOUS! You had so much free time you didn't know where to START! You'd sit around making all sorts of plans. You'd figure out where you wanted to go, who you wanted to see, what you wanted to do. Of course, by the middle of the vacation you were so bored that a part of you couldn't WAIT to get back to school. And then, of course, came those last few weeks. Oh the horror of those last few weeks of vacation! All that time wasted. So many things you didn't do, people you didn't see, places you didn't go.
Anybody remember those summer reading assignments? Oh what a joke those were. Seriously, did they really expect you to read all that stuff while you were on vacation? Actually, YES they did, as I found out. And they expected you to REMEMBER it too! The worst one I had was The Grapes of Wrath. Hated that book, I really did. Too damn depressing. Certainly NOT the kind of thing you want to spend your summer vacation reading. So what do they do? They not only assign it, they TEST you on it when you get back. About the only thing I remember from Grapes was that Steinbeck spent a whole damn chapter writing about some turtle crossing the road. Don't really remember what happened after that because I totally lost interest and never got past that part.
And summer camp. Remember summer camp? That pretty much fell into two categories. You had the summer camp you never wanted to leave because it was too much fun and you had the summer camp that was pure hell and you figured that a just God would smite the entire staff and deliver you, the poor, suffering campers back to the promise land where there were things like air conditioning and TV.
Man, I know I'm old now. As I was sitting here writing this I remembered one of the things I used to do on my summer vacation. I used to watch a lot of MTV. Ok, nothing odd about that. Kids watch MTV all the time these days right? Sure, but when *I* used to watch, they actually showed MUSIC most of the time!
Ah well. Back to work in the morning. 4 days at the store than another little mini-vacation of 3 days. Sort of like having my summer break in little pieces.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Really, these thoughts aren't random. They're just short.
Back to the 4 day work week. It's both good and bad. Good that I have three days off, bad that three of the four days I work are 10 hours long. It's really easy to burn out when you spend that much time in one place without a break. I understand that it's necessary but I can't help but think there's got to be a better way. Maybe I'll have a look at the schedule tomorrow and see if I can come up with something.
Vacation! That's what I need. I'll finally get one too I hope. We're going to the mountains in October! Of course, that's a month and a half away from now, almost 2 months actually and, well what worries me is that 2 months is pretty much the life expectancy of our bathers. They last about 2 months then quit. If that happens right before I go on vacation or while I'm ON vacation it would be one ugly mess.
Yankees vs BoSox. DAMN who'd have thought the Yanks would sweep them? Who'd have thought the Yanks would score double digits damn near every game? I thought Boston was supposed to be better than that. I guess they're all talk. Maybe the Curse of the Bambino is coming back again.
You catch the HBO series Rome? Why not? They're running it again on one of their billion HBO channels. If you don't get it there, go out and buy it at the store. It's GREAT! I got my copy today. It's a good way to escape.
Do you know I now own THREE copies of The Three Musketeers? It's true. I have a Bantam paperback copy, CC's Signet classics copy and now my Oxford World's Classics copy. See, there are actually 5 musketeers novels. You've got the first one, then one that takes place 20 years later titled, originally enough, Twenty Years Later. Then there are two novels that take place 10 years after the second novel that lead into The Man In The Iron Mask. In fact, really, The Man In The Iron Mask is all one huge long story spread out over three novels and almost NOTHING like any of the movie versions. Not that I blame the movie makers of course. A movie true to the books would probably put most people to sleep.
Don't get me started on politics these days. I'm pretty much convinced that they're all complete morons who couldn't figure out the right thing to do if God told them to by spelling it out, specifically, in simple English (and also in Spanish so as not to offend the easily offended), with pictures and video and a staff of Angels to explain it to those folks who still didn't quite understand. About what topic am I ranting? All of them. The only thing I trust the government to do these days is raise their salaries and create more paperwork for the people.
Football season is fast approaching but not fast enough!
Can anyone give me a GOOD reason why a kid needs a $200 cell phone and that said cell phone MUST be allowed to work in school, during school hours, during class? I've seen all sorts of little articles and letters to the editor about it and you know, damn near all of us made it through high school and college without cell phones. Why are they so necessary now?
I hate allergy season. Damn crepe mertles are blooming and have been all month. As a result, I've been stuffy headed almost every day. Not much I can do about it either. I can only take medication on my days off because I end up too stupid when I take anything that actually WORKS. Yet another reason why I can't wait for fall.
All things considered though, I'm actually doing pretty well. I dare say, I'm even happy most of the time. Oh there are always moments when all the little things pile up and make me a little grumpy but then, if that didn't happen, what on earth would I blog about? :-)
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Ok, I'm going off on a rant here about work. CC hates it when I do that because she believes it's bad manners to rant about work stuff in public. Someone from work might see it or maybe someone from the corporate office will see it and track me down. I suppose that's possible but not likely. Besides, this is something that's just driving me nuts.
We've got a little problem with turnover in our department. I started working in January. Since then we've lost THREE bathers and two groomers (though one groomer was promoted and moved to another store so that doesn't count). Three bathers though! The last one just up and quit on us yesterday. Didn't bother to show up for work. Didn't show up on Saturday either. Came to work Sunday though so I'm guessing she was going back and forth on the matter. Well, I hope she doesn't want to come back because I'm pretty sure they're not going to let her.
This sort of thing bugs me on two levels. First, the most basic level, I got called in to cover the shift. That means my weekend got shortened to one day. Plans I had for that day had to be called off. People were disappointed (especially me). But on a much deeper level, it REALLY annoys me that some people just up and quit without giving you any warning. It's not like they're telling the manager that the situation just isn't working out or that they need more money or that it's just too much physical labor. They're not working out a timetable by which they'll be leaving the company. We have no adjustment period. They just quit and leave us all hanging. Even worse, they don't even TELL us on the day they quit. They just don't show up for the shift and never return (except to pick up that final paycheck).
How am I supposed to deal with these people when they come strolling back in as a customer or maybe when they feel like a "visit" just to see how we're doing? Oh yes, have to be polite and all that. Must keep up appearances but inside I'm wondering which heavy things around the salon will cause the most damage if thrown.
When you get right down to it, there's nothing we can do other than adjust to the new conditions, hire another employee and hope for the best. Still, you'd think people would be a little more polite about these things; show a little courtesy to those of us still working the job.
Take a look over at the sidebar. You've already seen the shot of the Japanese girl who gets charged by the polar bear. When I saw that I thought it was a fluke. Look at how she's dressed? She's got that big white coat on and all. I was thinking that through the glass, she probably looked like a seal to the bear.
Now take a look at the video right below it. That's me acting as bait. We went to the zoo on Sunday to see the bears again and CC wanted to see if the whole seal thing really worked. As luck would have it, there was a bear swimming by the window so we went over to the gift shop and bought a big, stuffed seal. Didn't take long to get results. All we really had to do was get close enough to the window.
The best results came when the seal was just about at water level. If you crouch down and have just the head showing, I guess that's more real-looking to the bear. And if you duck down when he sees you, it must look like the seal is trying to hide so the bear charges. Of course, after a while he was getting kinda frustrated. You can see it there when he bounces TWICE.
We've shown that video to a lot of people now, including two workers at one of the snack bars. The question people always ask is whether or not I got scared. CC would always jump back a bit and maybe squeal a little. That's just reflex. Me, I didn't move at all. Just put my faith in the glass, that's what I did. I wonder if there's a patron saint of sturdy, zoo glass? :-)
Sunday, August 06, 2006
Actually, let's do that in reverse. Let's start with the recap of recent events and then move into the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Hamster story.
CC went to Manila a few weeks back and spent 10 days there. While she was away, I pretty much had no time to devote to anything other than work. First was work at the salon, then work at home. CC does a lot of those household chores too you see and with her gone, I had to do them. That week was mostly uneventful except for the addition of my new hamster, Keiko. She's a dwarf, Siberian female and just the CUTEST little thing. I'd spent at least a week at the store carrying her around when I wasn't busy and eventually decided I'd buy her. In her habitat at work, she was one of the few that didn't bite everything that came through the cage door, which was a plus.
Anyway, she was the first addition to the family. A week after I brought her home, my mother gave me two parakeets, cage and all. They're both fairly well behaved but neither of them are what you'd call "people parakeets." They've just never been trained to relax around us. Not to worry though, I'll work on them when I have the time.
If you're keeping score, right now I've got two dogs, a BUNCH of fish, a turtle, two parakeets and two hamsters. That's right, not a typo, I said TWO hamsters. But I'll get to that a little later.
So, all these animals. I must say, I do enjoy having them around. It's almost like having my own little zoo :-)
The next item on the list is the monitor. My old one died. I was sitting here browsing the Internet when the screen just went black. No warning, just GONE. I checked the connections, checked the settings, nothing. It didn't even give me the "No signal" warning. That was the first thing that made me suspicious. Then I tried to get the on screen display to come up. That should work as long as the monitor has power. Nothing. Totally blank screen. Gone. Dead. Fried. This happened to me 3 pm on a Sunday. Had no choice. Had to replace it. With no monitor, a computer is really just taking up space.
Fortunately, there were several monitors on sale around town and I managed to get a good deal on a 19 inch flat panel monitor. At first I wasn't too thrilled with having to spend on yet another bit of equipment. And when I put the new monitor in its place, I was thinking it was WAY too big. Then I turned it on and got a look at it in action. DAMN! Never had a picture this crisp before! And the monitor is so big I don't have to maximize the browser window to see everything. That makes multi-tasking a WHOLE lot easier!
This past week, on Monday, CC came home, which is good. However, my boss, the grooming manager, aka our ONLY groomer at the moment, went on a short vacation. What does that all mean? Means I had to work a 6-day week last week and I had to go in early on Monday to make sure I was off in time to pick CC up at the airport. I rounded this week off by going to a wedding Saturday night (which meant I had to take another morning shift). Needless to say, last night I was pretty beat. Washed 11 dogs during my Saturday shift, clipped nails on so many dogs I'm now a canine pedicure specialist. I even painted the toenails of two greyhounds.
Which brings me to today. First day of my two-day weekend. WOO HOO! Went to the mall. Went shopping! Well see, CC left some of her bath gels in Manila because they were running a bit low and her family liked them. Had to replace those, right? :-) And there was a sale on hand soap. Couldn't pass THAT up! Then there was the store that was moving. Everything half off! And the buy one, get one half off sale on t-shirts. I conservatively estimate that we saved nearly FIFTY DOLLARS today! Don't ask how much we spent. That's really not relavent is it? :-)
Now, the story you've been waiting for. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Hamster. Keiko, you've seen pictures of her. Cute little thing but do NOT mess with her! Female hamsters are pretty aggressive when it comes to defending their territory. I found out just HOW aggressive earlier this past week.
Customer came into the store to return a hamster. I don't know why it was returned, probably didn't get along with the one they had or something like that. Point is, nothing wrong with the hamster, perfectly healthy and all. Thing is, we can't put a returned animal back on the sales floor without a vet check. Have to make sure they're healthy you see. Here's the problem, a hamster sells for around 10 dollars. We'd take a pretty big loss getting the vet check and only selling the hamster for 10 bucks. In cases like that, we tend to adopt them out. First crack goes to people who work at the store. Free pet. After that, they go to trusted regular customers that we know have or are looking for similar animals. Well, guess who fell into BOTH of those categories? You got it.
I'm sitting at my counter. The shift is almost over. Nothing to do. I'm just killing time until closing. In comes the manager with a box. She puts it on the counter and tilts it over and I'm thinking, "Whatever comes out of there, it better damn well not slither or have more than 4 legs." Instead, out comes this really cute, black and white hamster. CC will be putting up pictures on her site soon.
So, Mary, the manager, explains the situation and asks if I'll adopt this one. Well, he was so cute, of COURSE I would. I didn't figure there'd be any problem. Keiko's cage is big enough for two and hamsters aren't really that aggressive towards members of the opposite sex. If they were, there wouldn't be any baby hamsters would there? In fact, our information sheets state quite plainly that they're social, but solitary. They prefer to be alone and have their own little corners but otherwise, they get along fine. You just have to be careful when you put females together.
New hamster comes home (he doesn't yet have a name). I put him in the cage with Keiko and DAMN does she go all Crouching Tiger on him. He was just being nice, walking up to her, wiggling his nose, that sort of thing and she'd just unleash a volly of face slaps until he ran off. THEN she started to set up ambushes. She'd burry herself under the bedding or hide behind the play wheel, wait until he came close enough then she'd SPRING out and start slapping at him, which would usually send HIM flying. One time she surprised him SO much that he ended up on the other side of the cage, on his back.
Yeah, it was at that point I decided I'd better pick up a cheap cage at work, which is what I did. So now we've got the two of them. They're both cute, though he tends to bite a little at first. Keiko spent a week walking around the store with me so she's used to being handled. He's still getting over the initial shock.
Just a few odds and ends here. I've put video back on the site. CC found a new source with a much larger selection. The one I have up now is just plain funny (to everyone but the girl of course). It really demonstrates just how persistant polar bears are when they think there's food nearby.
Also, in a previous post I pasted a bit from a Wall Street Journal article on a Filipino judge. Turns out he's got a blog here at blogspot and he posted a comment. You can check them both out by scrolling down and viewing the comments under the original post.
That pretty much brings us up to date. I'll be posting more often now that I have some spare time again.
Thursday, July 27, 2006
Yes, I know, I haven't been blogging on my regular schedule. CC's in Manila right now which means I have to do all the little things she does around the house as well as my usual chores. That doesn't leave me with much free time and when I DO have time, I tend to just sit and relax.
Saw this item in the Wall Street Journal today:
In May we noted the case of a Florentino Floro, a Philippine judge who, according to Reuters, "claimed he could see into the future and admitted consulting imaginary mystic dwarfs" and had "asked for his job back after being sacked by the country's Supreme Court." This morning we received an email from Judge Floro, who would like to clarify matters:
On April 6, 2006, the Philippine Supreme Court RELIEVED (separated--it did not dismiss) me from judicial service, and paid me 3 years backwages, by reason of PSYCHOSIS, a medical incapacity--because I allegedly believed in dwarves, angel of death, inflicting sicknesses, healing, prophecy, psychic phenomena and (in writing) predicted the downfall of 13th Philippine President Joseph Estrada (on December, 1998) who was ousted by people power on January 20, 2001.
TRUTH: I never used the word "DWARVES" in any DECISION, and I never consulted any imaginary dwarf to pen my decisions; my detractors submitted these false evidence or lies to replace me with their political candidate; what I do believe in is: a) in the so-called (my) SPIRIT GUIDES or PROTECTORS: LUIS, is the KING OF ALL KINGS of ELEMENTALS/spirits worldwide (I opine due to his lights, violet and white); and b) he is GOD's ANGEL (Genesis, Exodus, etc.)--what St. Paul teaches: Gifts of the Holy Spirit, Prophecy and Spiritual Healing. I am GIFTED; I never tried to develop my psychic powers, since these are God's GIFTs to me--TO HEAL and TO PROPHESY.
So the story turns out to be not as crazy as it sounded.And the folks in congress were picking on the people Bush wanted to put on the Supreme Court?
Saturday, July 15, 2006
I had a rather interesting day at work today. Well, maybe interesting is a little strong. You may find it boring but compared to a normal day . . .
Actually, when you get right down to it, there IS no such thing as a normal day for me anymore. The most I can say is that few unusual things happened. Working in retail is unpredictable because you deal with people all day. Add working with animals and you can see why things are seldom "normal."
But I digress :-)
The day looked like it was going to be slow right up until about 4 pm. I had just one sheltie to do and it wasn't a problem dog. He just stood there and took it, which is pretty common for shelties. Considering how neurotic they are away from the salon, they're rather calm and patient when a bath is involved. Anyway, this particular sheltie was in for a bath and a sanitary cut. I mentioned those before. That's my new addition, dog ball shaving.
Now, CC calls and asks if she should visit. I'm thinking the day is slow and it might be neat for her to see me actually using the clippers on a dog so I tell her to stop in. Not long after I hang up I get another dog, a corgi and then a pair of pugs. By the time CC shows up, the salon is booming again and I'm really too busy to chat with her.
The other dogs were uneventful. The second pug is where this all starts. It was a pretty pug-shaped pug let me tell you. Big, round girl. Grunted in the usual pug ways. Had one nail that was maybe a week away from being ingrown so I was trying to save the owner a trip to the vet. Damn thing wouldn't sit still. Had one of their kids hold it, and tight and I was STILL having a hard time clipping the nails. Finally got it hooked and the dog did a big tug right as I was cutting. You guessed it, I cut the quick. Pug blood on my hands.
It wasn't a bad cut really. I've seen worse. It was bad for ME though. I rarely actually cut the quick and even when I do it's not by much. Most of the time it stops bleeding on its own without the quick stop powder.
While I was bathing the pugs, I took a call from one of our regulars. Her dog was rubbing its butt on the carpet. That really only means one of two things for us. Either the dog didn't have its anal gland expressed (a really messy and nasty procedure; google it some time) or the hair was cut funny on its behind and was causing an itch. Now, you KNOW it wasn't the second reason. Oh no, it's NEVER the clean reason.
I told her to bring the dog in and she showed up right as I was making my pug blood sacrifice to the gods of dog grooming. After I sent the pugs home I took the poodle. It was actually a tea cup poodle making about the size of a small rabbit and that's being generous. I remembered it as soon as I saw it. It came in on Wednesday and was REALLY hyper the whole time. In fact, on Wednesday, MOST of the dogs were hyper.
Needless to say since it was so hyper the whole anal gland thing didn't work very well and we never got a chance to cut his nails. Since those two things didn't get done on Wednesday, wouldn't make sense to charge for them again right? They're supposed to be included.
I took the little dog into the back. Put him in the tub. Put on the gloves and went to work. He was a squirter. I was actually pretty impressed by this one. He managed to squirt all the way to the wall by the tub. That's a very strong squirt for such a little dog.
Wiped his butt, took him out front again and trimmed his nails. He was all nice and tidy. I was explaining to the owners that sometimes things like that happen when the dog won't settle down. We're limited in what we can do in that situation. I told her there was no charge for the work I did today and that if she had that problem again, just bring the dog back and we'll take care of it. In the middle of that conversation, the lights went out.
Every night at 7:20 the lights go out because the grooming salon used to be opened until 7. The timers are still set with the assumption that we'd all be gone by 7:20. Problem is we're now open until 9 and the timers are controlled by the folks at headquarters in San Diego. Nothing I can do about it but turn them back on every hour (when you turn it back on, it only stays on for an hour, then it shuts off again).
Poodle lady left, I went to go turn on the lights and as I was making my way back to the salon, I saw a woman who appeared to need help. She had some kids that wanted to see some of the animals. No problem. We do that sort of thing all the time, especially with kids. I told her to go ahead and bring them in and I asked the cashier who was free to handle that sort of thing. Guess who was free. No really, guess. That's right, ME!
Everyone else was working to stock the shelves for the weekend and the cashier had to stay up front in case people wanted to check out. So, for the next hour I was zookeeper. We petted mice first, then hamsters, then ferrets. Then we went back to the reptiles section and petted a leopard gecko and a cuban knight anole (big green lizard). Next came the millipede. Oh what a joy that was. Every time they touched it, it grabbed hold of my hand even tighter. Talk about a freaky feeling. All those little legs gripping my fingers. WEIRD!
We walked around to the other side and TRIED to pet a snake but it got all nervous. Too much noise. Oh, did I neglect to mention that there were something like EIGHT kids? And all of them young. Must have been a slumber party or something.
Next came a firebelly toad. I tried to get a frog but the damn things were just too slippery. Just as well, the toad was a really bright green with red feet and looked WAY cooler.
After everyone got to pet the little toad, the kids told me there was a bird stuck upside down. I wasn't sure what this was all about so I put away the toad and went to the parakeet cage. Turns out one of them fell or something and got stuck between two of the food bowls. Sure enough, it was upside down and looking REALLY confused about things. Couldn't manage to get out because its feet couldn't get a grip on anything. Never fear, I'm a professional dog bather. I can handle ANY situation :-)
The last thing we did was pet the rabbits. Well, the one rabbit anyway. The other is too fast for me to catch. Very patient this rabbit we had. It didn't spook very much at all. I guess it's getting used to having all that attention. Lots of people like to pet the bunnies.
So there you have it, pug blood, poodle poo and the zookeeper, me. Good thing I'd done a chunk of my cleaning already. I didn't get back to the salon until almost 8:30. Still managed to get everything done though.
See? Interesting night.