Thursday, July 27, 2006

One Quick Entry

Currently Reading: Titan by Ben Bova

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

Pug Blood, Poodle Poo and The Zookeeper

Currently Reading: Pinball 1973 by Haruki Murakami

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.


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Getting Closer

Currently Reading: Pinball 1973 by Haruki Murakami

Today I moved a step closer to becoming a dog groomer. Today I was trained and granted permission to shave canine genitalia. That's a fancy way of saying I can now shave dog balls :-)

The proper term for it around the salon is a sanitary trim. You use clippers and shave the hair around, well, the genitalia, the belly, the butt and the bottoms of the feet; all the places doggies get dirty really fast.

What does this mean in the grand scheme of things? Well, it means I can take care of a LOT more dogs than I used to. There are quite a few breeds that really only need the sanitary cut and there are quite a few owners who actually LIKE their dogs to have long hair. They just don't like picking poo out of it. Thus, the sanitary cut.

At this rate, by the time I actually go to grooming school I'll already be familiar with using clippers and handling dogs during a cut which will make things just that much easier :-)


Weekend Shopping

Currently Reading: Pinball 1973 by Haruki Murakami

Been out shopping this weekend. And while I managed to spend a decent amount of money, I also managed to save a little money and I really only bought stuff I was planning on getting eventually anyway.

Sunday I bought a new radio for the truck. I've had the truck for over 10 years now and all that time it's only had an AM/FM radio. No tape, no CD. When I first got the truck all those years ago there really wasn't any NEED for anything other than a radio. I spent most of the time listening to talk radio or one of the 70's and 80's stations so why bother right? And it's not like I was planning to take the truck out on any long road trips either. That all changed when I moved to Memphis.

You know, for a city that prides itself on being so music-oriented, there isn't squat available on the radio. Most of the stations either play hip-hop or rap. There's all of ONE oldies station and they can't seem to decide just what counts as old. It's not unusual to hear stuff from the 50's clean up through to the late 80's. Mixed together like that, it just doesn't work well. There's also a classic rock station but mostly they play rock songs you didn't like very much back when they were fresh.

I had intented to replace the stereo in the truck not long after I got here but I just didn't have the money at first. Then I forgot about it. Then it wasn't a priority because I didn't drive much.

Why the sudden change? Sick of listening to the babbling of the local dj's and horrible commercials only to hear a good song start to play right as I pull in to wherever I was going. Talk about frustrating. Well, no more of that. Sunday I bought a new stereo/cd player and had it installed so I didn't have to mess with all the wires. Driving around is a whole lot better now :-)


CC came home for lunch today which meant I got the truck this afternoon. I took the scenic route home from her office which meant I pretty much went the opposite direction from the apartment and went to the mall instead. Well hey, I had to test the new radio right?

Wandered around the mall a bit. Found a great t-shirt for CC so I bought that for her. She loved it which made me happy. I also picked up three pair of pants. We're allowed to wear black, blue or khaki pants at work you see but I never had any luck finding black or blue pants that actually FIT so I ended up with a closet full of khaki. Went over to Sears and found what I was looking for. Now I can shake things up a little bit by showing up in blue or black. Yeah, real party animal I am eh? I sure do live on the edge :-)

Heading to bed now. No doubt there'll be lots of dogs waiting for me to wash them tomorrow. I'll wear one of my new pairs of pants. On the way to the store, I'll listen to a CD too. I paid for all this stuff, I'm going to get my money's worth :-)


Friday, July 07, 2006

Marvel vs DC

Currently Reading: The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty

Alright, you've probably guessed by now that I'm more of a Marvel kind of guy. That's putting it kindly really. I really just don't like DC and the way their heroes are made.

For those of you who don't know, DC is the comics house with Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Justice League, that group. Marvel is Spiderman, Captain America, The Fantastic Four, X-Men and so on.

You've probably noticed there have been quite a few Marvel hero movies lately. I'm not sure where the trend really started but it was either with X-Men or Spiderman. That's where the gates opened and gave us The Hulk, The Fantastic Four, Daredevil, Elektra and several movies in the work, most notably Iron Man and Captain America. I'll admit there were some pretty bad movies in there but in all fairness, the two REALLY bad ones you can blame on Benifer. In what universe is Ben Aflek a good choice to play a blind, Irish lawyer? And since when does Jennifer Garner look even remotely Asian? Besides, Daredevil and Elektra weren't the strongest of characters to base movies on.

The real problem with the DC characters is that they lack depth. No fair counting the Dark Horse Comics which while technically are part of DC, have NOTHING to do with DC. Those come from smaller, independant houses. So just stick with the big ones. Like the front-man, Superman. Until recently, no one really went into his back story. He's always just been super strong, bullet proof, flying, eye lasers Superman. Crashlanded here as a baby, raised on a farm, really bad at trying to maintain an alter ego.

I remember reading a review or two of the latest Superman movie that really nailed down the problem with the big S. He's only got one weakness. Now, knowing that, when he confronts a bad guy, Lex Luthor especially, don't you think said bad guy is going to have a little bit of that one weakness on hand? I mean, what's the point of going up against Superman if you don't have a little Kryptonite on hand? That being said, why doesn't Superman ever seem to take this into account? It's like he's got a super blind spot for the stuff and becomes super stupid. But it HAS to be that way because you can't create any dramatic tension if your hero is invulnerable.

Then there's Aquaman. Really, he's a SERIOUSLY watered down version of the Sub Mariner. But where Prince Namor is flawed, sometimes psychotic and switches from good to bad depending on the story, Aquaman just talks to fish. Was he born underwater? Was he hatched? Does he have parents? Did the spawn? What's the deal? Does he have any real super powers other than talking to fish and can the fish just tune him out and not listen?

Wonder Woman. Big amazon chick with a lasso and a glass plane. Want to take her out? Simple. Sniper. Seriously, she's really just a juiced up human right? Got those bulletproof bracelets, sure so don't attack her from the front. Attack long range, sniper. Get someone to distract her and then just take her out, no sweat. And don't you think an invisible jet might be just a little dangerous? How do you know how big the damn thing is? And how does she know where the controls are anyway? Or is it visible to only her? How has she managed to avoid hitting other planes all these years? Or birds? Hell birds would be smacking into the damn thing all the time I'd think.

Green Lantern is in a state of flux. Used to just be one white guy with a ring. Let's him do stuff with green lasers and various power beams. So how did you beat him? Wear red and steal his ring. And it kept happening too. People were always trying to steal his ring and like a big idiot, he'd actually take the damn thing OFF! Now, he's not just Green Lantern, it's the Green Lantern Corps! He's also had a race change. He's black now because DC didn't have any black super heroes and Marvel already had at least 2.

One big problem with the whole DC lack of character bit is that they all get along. How annoying is that? You see them on Justice League and they're just a bunch of happy campers trapped with some dorky teens and a freaky monkey. Take the flip-side of JLA over to Marvel, The Avengers. That team is made up of Captain America, Iron Man, The Hulk, Thor, Hawkeye, Ant Man and Wasp. People come and go but that's the core of the group. They fight ALL the time. Same is true of the Fantastic Four. Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm spend half the comic fighting. That's normal. That's what happens when people with different personalities are forced to work together. Yeah, they get the job done but they argue about how to do it.

Capes. Capes is a big issue here. Get a copy of The Incredibles and watch as Edna explains why supers shouldn't have capes. Now look at our heroes. DC, capes. Marvel? No capes. That's mostly true, but there are exceptions. DC guys are more likely to have capes. Marvel, less likely and when Marvel guys DO have capes, they're usually the bad guys (Dr. Doom, Magneto). Some of them have half capes, which makes it easier to see when they're flying, but doesn't get in the way when they fight.

So, take all this into account and you've pretty much got the reasons why Marvel movies do better, on average, than DC. Marvel heroes are quite often reluctant heroes and are just as likely to be bad guys from time to time. In fact, quite a few of them started out as bad guys and switched sides. And there are plenty of cases where good guys went bad. Namor, the Sub Mariner, was a good guy in Captain America back in WWII. He got all jaded though and became a bad guy, fighting against the Fantastic Four. A lot of the others go bad for one specific mission because they don't agree with it. You don't see that in DC.

I mention all of this now because DC is starting to push movies. Last year they brought back Batman. This year Superman. Next year they'll probably have the Wonder Woman movie finished. That one will be interesting because it's being written by the guy who created Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He's a comics guy and actually writes an X-men series for Marvel. I'm sure he'll fill in quite a few of those blanks in Wonder Woman's background.

I think I'll read some more comics after I finish The Exorcist. Comics are perfect for summer reading.


Saturday, July 01, 2006

Bad Omens

Just Finished Reading: The Rosetta Codex by Richard Paul Russo

Before I begin today's entry, how cool is this?

That's the Prime Minister of Japan along with Pricilla Presley, Lisa Marie and, of course, W. They were all at Graceland on Friday for a special tour. The Japanese Prime Minister, Junichiro Koizumi is a HUGE Elvis fan so when he came over for a visit, they flew down to tour Graceland. Nice of Pricilla and Lisa Marie to join them. Then again, how often do they get a chance to hang out with the leaders of TWO countries like that?

In case you're wondering, yes they did go to the Civil Rights museum, which is also here in Memphis but let's face it, the place is depressing. The whole thing is housed in the hotel where Martin Luther King was assassinated. Mostly politicians walk through the place looking somber. Someone snaps a few pictures of said politician in deep though. After the tour they say something about how moved they were, etc.

This shot of them all at Graceland is just a nice change. For once, visitors to Memphis actually look HAPPY :-)


Bad omens last night. I don't know what was going on but I certainly seemed to be under a minor voodoo curse or something like that. Started off with me mixing not one, not two, but THREE gallons of the wrong shampoo. Grabbed the wrong bottle out of the cabinet and ended up making three gallons of sensitive skin shampoo for dogs instead of medicated shampoo. Is this a big difference? Oh yeah, you bet it is. Fortunately I was able to save it so it isn't like we have a big loss. But on the other hand we've got a 6 month supply of sensitive skin shampoo pre-mixed.

Later that night I was trimming the nails on a dog and I nicked its quick THREE times. Honestly I may do that three times in a MONTH and here I did it three times in one day on the SAME DOG! What makes it even worse is that the dog wasn't even a squirmer. He mostly sat there and was very patient with me. Again, plus side here. He didn't seem to mind it much which means I didn't cut it DEEP or anything. It didn't hurt him and there won't be any lasting health problems. But still, THREE times?

I knew it was time to throw in the towel when I ran into bad omen number 3. I was heading into the bathroom at work when I noticed something on the floor. I just looked at it, shook my head and walked out. I went over to one of the supervisors and said, "Rich, there's a snake in the bathroom." He looks at me and asks, "Seriously?"

That's right, snake in the bathroom. Seems our corn snake decided he didn't want to hang out in his enclosure anymore and he mounted an escape. Managed to somehow sneak out through the hole where his heater and water sprayer come in. How he managed to push it open is anyone's guess. Something must have knocked it loose. Anyway, he made it out of his tank, down to the floor (about 2 feet) then from the reptiles section over to the bathroom (a good 30 feet with two corners and a door). My guess is that he was following the crickets. We've always got crickets in the bathroom because they keep a steady supply on hand in the infirmary, which is across the hall.

Something like that happens, that's a message that it's time to go home.

After we caught the snake, one of the clerks on duty said to me, "Well, at least you found it BEFORE you started going to the bathroom right?"

Well . . . yeah, I guess she's right about that :-)