Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Remembering Summers Past

Just Finished Reading: The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

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

Random Thoughts

Currently Reading: The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

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'm tired.

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

Another One Bites The Dust; Bait

Currently Reading: The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

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

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Hamster; Recap of Recent Events

Currently Reading: The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

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.

As you can see, she enjoys playing Gameboy and is learning very quickly :-)

Here, she's just watching me type the blog, making sure I say good things about her.

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.