Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Just Finished Reading: Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay

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.


Just Finished Reading: Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay

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

Last of the Vacation Blog

Currently Reading: Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay

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

Vacation Blog Part 3

Currently Reading: Nothing. I'm between Books

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

Vacation Blog Part 2

Currently Reading: Nothing. I'm between books

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

Dyson; Dots; The Vacation Blog

Currently Reading: Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex: The Lost Memory by Junichi Fujisaku

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

My Mini Vacation

Currently Reading: The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris

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

Slight Changes

Currently Reading: The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris

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

Public Service

Currently Reading: The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris

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.


One Wild Weekend

Currently Reading: The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris

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? :-)