Tuesday, May 29, 2007

We're Back!

Just Finished Reading: The Prestige by Christopher Priest

Home again.

Unlike CC, I haven't been posting my vacation blog along the way. I could have. It wasn't like she was keeping me away from her machine or anything like that. I just figured that since I was on vacation, I'd stay on vacation pretty much all the way. I did manage to record my thoughts on my PDA though so I have a blog entry all ready for posting more or less. I didn't stick in pictures and video like CC did. Just head on over to her blog for a more visual approach to our vacation :-)

Day One:

Thursday Night

Arrived in Nashville with no major problems. The drive was uneventful and I managed the entire thing myself. Usually when we go on vacation I have CC drive the first leg while I catch up on my sleep but because of the early work schedule I've been on, that wasn't a problem.

It was also interesting to see the familiar stretch of road all GREEN. All of our past trips have been in the fall so everything is fall-colored. Not this time. All green and bright sun. I did notice that along several stretches of highway, the smaller towns have been building up quite a bit. That was most evident in Jackson, TN.

We arrived at about 1 pm and checked into our hotel room. It's a nice place. We're just two doors down from the little gym (complete with whirlpool thank you!). We also were able to park the truck right outside the window. It's almost like it's watching us.

We had lunch at a mini-mall that's right next door then we went out looking at apartments. Remember, we're moving up here in a year or so and CC wanted to check out a few places. We found one that's very promising and were also able to cross a few off our list. It's all helpful for when the time comes to make the big move.

One funny little note. Among the other guests at this particular hotel is the Christian Brothers High School baseball team. They must be here for a tournament or perhaps they've made the playoffs. Either way, you can imagine my surprise when I saw all of those purple baseball jerseys. Talk about weird. This is a high school that's right up the road from our Memphis apartment. Small world.

We've also decided pretty much what we're going to do while we're here. Friday we're going to the zoo. Saturday we're going go Historic Franklin. Sunday we're going to the big Renaissance fair which looks WAY cool. We're going to have SUCH a good time on this vacation AND we'll see jousting! That's right, they're jousting this weekend. Those guys are NUTS! Can't wait to see it!

Time for bed.

Day Two:

Friday Night

Slight change of plans. We actually went to Historic Franklin today instead of Saturday. We had so much time left after the zoo, we needed something to fill the gap.

But let's back things up a bit. Woke up this morning and had beakfast. It's almost exactly the same as the one at the La Quina in Gatlinburg. They even had the same waffel maker.

After that, off to the zoo! First interesting thing I noticed was the neighborhood that the zoo is located in. The whole area is like a little version of San Antonio. Seriously, same types of stores and everything. For example, on one corner you've got an old gas station that's gone out of business and now sells tacos. Then down the street there's a Pizza Hut that's been sold and turned into a Mexican restaurant. Of course, the shape of the building is clearly Pizza Hut but they've tried really hard to make it look more Mexican. Even the bilboards were in Spanish.

We got to the zoo at around 9:30 and there were already quite a few people there. The zoo itself isn't all that big. In fact, in terms of the number of animals on display it's much smaller than The Memphis Zoo. However, it's on a HUGE plot of land and everything is spread out. According to their map, they're building quite a few new enclosures which will double or triple the size. A few years from now it'll be a pretty nice place.

What came as a surprise was an historic farm house that was on the property. CC and I went on the tour. It wasn't particularlly big but it was certainly old. It dates back to around 1810. Nice place really. CC has pictures of all of this on her blog of course.

We spent three and a half hours at the zoo in all and can you believe it, I kept getting reminded of work. We fed birds, I got sprayed with water and we watched a llama get shaved. They have an enclosure for lorikeets and the most popular place for them to congregate was near a sprinkler. Given what I do for a living, a little water spray wasn't going to stop me from playing with the birds :-)

The llama was a total surprise though. Apparently today was shave the llamas day because when we got to the petting zoo part, two of them had already been shaved and they were working on the third. It was pretty cool seeing the same sorts of equipment I use at work only industrial size.

After the zoo, it was still early so CC wanted to go check out a few more floorplans for apartments in the area that we liked. Well, I can tell you this, we've pretty much decided on which apartment complex we went to live in when we move. The question now is whether or not we can afford the two bedroom which would give us a little more space to spread out. Both layouts are great though so we'll be happy with either of them.

It was still pretty early when we finished up there so we drove over to Historic Franklin. For those of you who have been to the Texas Hill Country, it was a lot like Boerne or Fredricksburg. If you haven't, well, think of a small town in the US. Think older though, like back to the 40's and 50's. Lots of little shops. Lots of antique shops too.

Now, after all of that, we were finally feeling a bit tired so we headed back to the hotel. We stopped at Shoney's for dinner then had a quick soak in the whirlpool tub again. And that was our day two.

Tomorrow our main plan is to ckeck out the showboat tour. It starts at 11 am and runs for three hours. After that we don't really have anthing planned so we'll just sort of play it by ear.

Day Three:

Saturday Evening

One of the things CC and I have wanted to do ever since she moved to the US was go to a Renaissance Fair. Obviously they don't have things like that in Manila and she really likes all of knights and ladies thing. As for me, I took an entire semister in college of JUST Arthurian Literature. That doesn't count all the other classes along the way that featured a little bit here and there.

As luck would have it, the Tennessee Renaissance Fair is going on right now not too far away from where we're staying. Even better, they're holding their jousting tournament this weekend and that's one of the things CC really wanted to see. We were going to save it for tomorrow but we were in more of a Renaissance mood this morning so off we went.

I will confess that along the way we had one slight misadventure. CC has already documented that in her blog, complete with pictures, so I'm not going to go into that at all. I'll just skip right over that and get to the fair.

We really had a great time. We got there just as the gates were opening and our first stop was a magic/comedy show. Great way to start off the day. CC and I were both laughing.

After the show we had just enough time to walk through the fair over to the jousting field and get a good seat. It was a bit warm out this afternoon so we also picked up some drinks too.

We had really good seats and the jousting was VERY cool. CC has a whole bunch of pictures and several vdeo clips over on her blog so it's best to go and check those out instead


At that point we were both really dragging from the heat. We decided to cool things off with a tour of the castle. It's not actually a castle of course. In fact, it's not even finished yet. The guy who owns it is a photographer and he's slowly been building this castle for years and years. It's his house you see, and he opens it up for tours during the fair.

After that, let's see, well we walked around a bit more. CC was hungry so she had a bite to eat and then we walked around the fair a little more. I was trying to find something that would make a good souvenir. I've already got a kabillion t-shirts from all sorts of places so I've kinda been avoiding getting more on this trip. So instead I got a gladius. That's a Roman sword. It's not REAL mind you, it just looks pretty cool. I was thinking of getting a rapier but they were a little too expensive.

Back to the hotel and a shower for us both. The grounds at the fair were VERY dusty. You should see my shoes. They're gray. Even the blue parts are gray now from all the dust.

Fabulous time today. No idea what we're going to do tomorrow but we'll probably go check out downtown or maybe visit the Grand Ole Opry. Whatever we do, I'm going to push for something indoors because I've got the weirdest sunburn pattern on my neck. There's a very clear white stripe where the strap from the camera bag rested most of the day. Plus, I've got several patches on my arms and neck that are REALLY close to being burned and I don't want to risk it. But you know, if we find something cool tomorrow that's outside I doubt that will stop me.

Day Four:

Sunday Evening

CC decided we'd take the cruise today and maybe hit the mall. It was actually kinda funny, she was going back and forth about whether or not to take the cruise right up until she got the tickets. We were walking around the waiting area on the docks and she still wasn't sure what she wanted to do.

Fortunately, she decided she wanted to go on the boat. I say fortunately because we had a GREAT time, way better than I expected. CC made a joke right before the boat pulled away from the shore that they were going to be playing country music and I was stuck with it. No chance to escape. Turns out I actually knew more of the songs they played than SHE did. Oh yes, I'm serious. They played country but most of what they played was OLD country. In fact, the only songs I didn't know were the more recent ones and CC knew most of those.

We spent the entire trip on the hurricane deck, that's upstairs by the bar. They had a four man band playing and every so often one of them would take a break. This changed the sound and mood of the band the whole way through because when certain members were there, they knew more of the old stuff. Other guys knew the newer stuff or non-country stuff.

The tour was pretty funny too. There was one moment that still makes me chuckle. The lead singer in the band at one point turns and talks about this big scrap metal yard on one side of the river. Then he turns and points up on a bluff where they'll be building a huge condo place with a view of . . . the scrap metal yard. Oh, and the other one was when we were passing the stadium where the Tennessee Titans play. He says, "You know that LP Stadium, the LP doesn't stand for Last Place. We were second to last."

In all it was a REALLY relaxing trip. We followed that up with a walk around the mall then came back to the hotel. CC fell asleep early and pretty much stayed that way until morning. I went out and grabbed some Jack in the Box.

And that was pretty much it for our vacation. The rest was us packing and driving back here to Memphis. We picked up the dogs, who were VERY happy to see us of course. Katya hasn't really left my side since I got back. She even spent the whole night sleeping at the foot of the bed too. Usually she'll move off into the bathroom or get up with CC and follow her around for a bit but not today. No, today she just wasn't going to leave me :-)

Now remember, pictures are available over at CC's blog so go and vist that, ccslish.blogspot.com ok? She's even got video of the jousting :-)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

On The Road Again

Currently Reading: The Prestige by Christopher Priest

Be back to the blog next week. Until then we're gonna get a little R & R.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Lion King!

Currently Reading: Parasite Eve by Hideaki Sena

Isn't this cute?

How about this?

She's such a cutie pie!

She belongs to one of our clients at the salon. That's my work, right there. She came in along with her sister on Friday. The owners wanted their dogs shaved but poms look horrible shaved all the way so they decided to go with a lion cut. Came out great don't you think? The owner loved it. More importantly, the owner's girlfriend (who's actually the REAL owner) loved it. They'll be coming back regularly for sure now :-)

It's funny, they used to live in our apartment complex. He used to hang out by the pool all the time so I guess it was HIS apartment and she moved in. They got married and moved into a house. How do I know all this? Well, I'm just filling in the blanks really. Never really saw her around while he was living here. The info card they filled out shows them both with the same last name now and a new address, which doesn't have an apartment number.

Anyway, as I was saying, they used to live here, or at least he did. Saw him all the time at the pool. Then he started coming into the store to buy dog things (which was probably about the time they started living together). They would come and ask me for advice on dog grooming products because I work in the salon. Now I'm a groomer so where do they go to get their dog cut? You got it. The same place they got excellent customer service :-)

Speaking of customer service, I had a guy come in on Sunday who went off on a rant about one of our competitors. I won't name names but the store in question isn't as SMART as they think they are ;-) He was really angry about the service there. He'd told me that they've had to cancel appointments for his dog TWICE and they didn't give any advance warning. He'd show up with his dog and they'd tell him it couldn't be done because (insert excuse here). Once in a while that sort of thing will happen of course. We had to do it last year when our groomer had a kidney stone and left for the day. We had no way to call the people who were already on their way to their appointments but we managed to deal with the rest. But with this guy, it's happened TWICE already. Just goes to show you that just because the store has SMART in its name doesn't mean they've got smart employees or give good customer service. Better to GO where the pets GO. Got it? ;-)

I'm still not "officially" a groomer yet though. Oh yes, I am working as a groomer, don't get me wrong. And I pull in the proper groomer's commission too. I had to send in pictures last week though and they still haven't been processed. You have to groom three different dogs to show that you know what you're doing and take before/after pictures to be sent to the district office for approval. That's all I'm waiting on now. I've passed all the other exams and, as I said, I've been working as a groomer. Just this weekend I worked Sunday solo and was the groomer on Monday too. Last week they sent me over to another store to fill in over there too so even though it's not official yet, I'm doing the job.

The best part, so far anyway, is that I haven't had any complaints (knock on wood). Granted I'm not exactly what you'd call speedy but so far everything has come out how the owner wanted it to come out. It's been tricky in a few cases too because the owners sometimes ask for stuff that's not normal. Take yesterday for example. Woman came in with a shihtzu. Apparently she has gotten tired of dealing with the tangling hair and so forth because her dog goes outside a lot. She wanted that dog bald. Ok. We can do bald. Normally we don't do it on that type of dog though because people like them styled. She also wanted the face shaved too. Normally we go with a rounder pattern so the dog looks like a teddy bear. She also wanted the ears shaved. Then sort of blend it all together. So what she got was a short shave, cocker spaniel face, terrier ears, poodle head. The poodle head part was just what I did with the hair on the top that was leftover. Couldn't shave the poor thing BALD. That would look freaky.

In the end, her dog sort of looked like a white, furry Yoda. Well, she had HUGE eyes which were now VERY visible so when she'd flop her ears back, just imagine Yoda, but white and fuzzy :-)

Guess you'd better get used to this, me telling dog stories I mean. That's probably what the blog is going to fill up with for a while. At the end of the month CC and I are going on a short vacation so we may have some adventure stories out of that but otherwise I think the summer will be going to the dogs so to speak. Dog days of summer, come on, you know that joke right? :-)

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Latest . . .

Currently Reading: Parasite Eve by Hideaki Sena

Yes, yes, I know, it's been two weeks since the last blog entry and I usually post every week. To be perfectly honest, there just hasn't been a whole lot to report. With CC still in Manila (she comes back tomorrow) I haven't been out much except for work and shopping. Giving you the details on all of that would make for some very boring posts.

I finished a great book called Company, by Max Barry. If you've ever worked for a large company, national, international or just local, you've got to read this book. Well, ok, you don't HAVE to read it but you'll probably enjoy it. I won't go into the details about it other than to say it's about what happens to one guy when he goes to work for a company without doing any research first. If you're in the bookstore or browsing on Amazon, give it a look. It's great stuff.

I also finally saw 300 last week. Good thing I did too because it's not showing here anymore that I've been able to find. With Spiderman coming out last Friday and the next Pirates movie coming out, theaters are making room. 300 had a good run though and it'll be even more popular on dvd. Glad I saw it in the theater though. The scale of everything really plays out much better on a bigger screen.

Monday I worked over at another store. Their groomer was on leave and they had a three-day hole in their schedule. I took Monday because Tuesday and Wednesday are my days off. So far as I can tell, they were going to have to do without on those two days. No one from any of the other stores was willing to drive over. That's not too bad though. If you plan everything in advance, you can get away with that from time to time.

It was a little strange working in another store like that though. Things were very much the same as working in our store but just different enough. One thing I noticed is that while overall their store is bigger than ours, their grooming salon is a bit smaller. That really made no sense to me. With all that extra space, you'd think they'd put it to better use. Yes, the aisles were further apart and things were spread out a bit more but it didn't really seem like they had more stuff than we do.

Nothing really eventful happened while I was there. I did two cuts the whole day and that was it. That's probably about all I would have done over at our store anyway. Monday's tend to be a bit slow.

I'll be going on vacation in two weeks time. That will be fun. We'll be getting out of Memphis for a few days. A change of scenery is nice. Of course, CC has had that for a while now so I guess really the change is more for me :-)

Before that though, our salon manager is taking her vacation. Last year when she did that, things got REALLY ugly towards the last few days. I'm hoping that won't happen again. Given the changes in personnel though, it sure is possible that something might happen. Worse, if something DOES happen it's likely to be a whole lot more ugly than the last time. Keep your fingers crossed though. I don't want a lot of stress leading into my vacation :-)

Ran across this video the other day. CC will roll her eyes when she sees it. She'll be thinking, "AGAIN?" Yes, I've been playing this one over and over. It's just too funny. Of course, the subtitles aren't a translation of what's being sung, just what it sounds like in English.