Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Lazy Days of Summer

Currently Reading: Hunters of Dune by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson

You sure can tell it's summer out there can't you? You've got your usual rising temperatures and crowded pools. The kids are out of school so the clothes you see are even weirder than usual. Of course we'll all be hearing more about global warming. Every summer, same thing. It's hot in July so that MUST be from global warming. We'll hear about it again once the annual wildfires start up. Oh yes, and there are floods in Texas again. Same thing every 5 to 10 years. You get hot and dry for a while. Everything just evaporates. Lakes and rivers turn to mud. Then BAM they get a foot or more of rain in a few hours and everything floods. Just part of the usual cycle.

It's really starting to slow down out there too. Have you looked at the newspaper lately? Good thing Paris Hilton got out of jail when she did. Reporters were having a hard time coming up with something to write about.

At work, we go through a pretty big rush this time of year. A lot of people with dogs believe that their dog will be cooler with less hair so they come in to have them shaved down. Then you've got your outdoors types who take their dogs boating. A dog that smells like any lake or river down here is in dire need of a bath let me tell you. They also often get shaved so they'll dry faster. And the pool owners are always bringing their dogs in for a shave. All that dog hair clogs up the filters you see. So while everyone else slows down or goes on vacation, this is a very busy season for us.

On the upside, all that extra work makes it easier for us to save a little for the down times. It also means we don't have to be quite as careful about our spending as we usually are. It's pretty cool to look at a bill that's a tad higher than last month and think, "you know what? Doesn't matter. We got that covered." :-)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Why I hate Mondays and like The Hulk

Currently Reading: Planet Hulk by Marvel

I hate Mondays. I really do. Funny thing is, as CC keeps reminding me, Mondays for me are like Fridays for everyone else, at least in terms of which days I work. Tuesday and Wednesday are my weekend days so you'd think being closer to them would be a good thing right?

Mondays for me tend to start on Sunday, which is part of the problem. Sundays I'm at the store 10 to 6. No big deal there right? Sure I'm there until dinnertime but I also don't have to roll out of bed at the crack of dawn. No, rolling out of bed at or before sunrise is something I reserve for MONDAY!

Less than 12 hours after I return home from work Sunday evening, I'm crawling out of bed Monday morning. Why? Because Monday is my day to open. The salon opens at 7 am which means I have to be there a little before that to set things up and be ready for all those happy customers who want their dogs cut. Just think about that for a second. At the time when most people are either just getting up or just eating breakfast or maybe even just sitting in morning traffic, I'm already standing behind the counter waiting to take customers.

So there I am, 7 am, Monday morning. The only thing that separates me from the weekend is an 8-hour work day. You'd think that would be an easy thing. But just remember, this is Monday and it doesn't matter whether it's your first, middle or last day of the week, it's still Monday and Monday's are universally a pain in the ass.

First hour one of two things will happen. Either I'll be flooded with people trying to drop their dogs off on the way to work or the place will be completely empty. It's always one or the other. There never seems to be any sort of middle ground. I'm either springing into action right up front or trying not to fall asleep. The thing is, I really have no way of telling which one it will be. On the appointment calendar it will say, at most, one person checking in at 7 am. And that one person will bring, at most, 2 dogs. The others will be walk-ins and there is no way to predict when people will get the urge for some dog hair cutting (holidays excepted of course).

Let's use Monday of this week as an example. 7 am was a no-show. Phone rings 7:30. Repeat customer wants to bring in his poodle. Fine, great, wonderful, makes up for the one who didn't show. Perfect. 8 am I have 4 people all trying to get their dogs in at the same time. Why? Well, repeat customer has made it to the salon, the scheduled 8 am person is also there but now the two 9 am customers have decided they'll be busy at 9 and are dropping their pets off early. And like that *poof* we've gone from total boredom to near chaos.

8:30 am all the dogs are in and I've started washing them. By 9 I'm mostly caught up with all the dogs washed and rough cuts done on the poodle and the chow mix. Ok, going great so far. Not going to be too bad. Then we hit 9:30. Every remaining appointment shows up. Oh no, I'm not kidding. We have appointments listed until 2 pm only for some reason, this being Monday, everyone else on the list has decided to show up a little early.

10 am I have 8 dogs sitting in the back, only a few of them are done. The phone is ringing every 10 minutes as people try and talk me into squeezing just one more dog in. Of course, I can't do that no matter how nice they ask. I'm only supposed to take in 6 cuts in a given day and I've already got 7 on deck with one just in for a bath. So unless it's a full-blown 5 alarm dog grooming emergency (such as a skunk hit) they'll just have to wait.

11 am. That's when I look at the clock and think, "Oh crap it's 11 already? I've only got 4 hours left to finish all these dogs!" Of course the phone is STILL ringing off the hook. I've managed to push these people onto the other days when we're not as busy but so long as they keep calling, I can't finish this little toy poodle which only needs to have her face trimmed up a little.

11:30 am poodle is done and the owner is picking her up. She looks great. He thinks she looks great. I think she looks great. Guess what though. Over at the registers they're no longer giving cash back. Even if you pay for your purchase with a debit card you're no longer given the option to get cash back. New policy. We have as little cash on hand as possible now. WONDERFUL. Good for the store but bad for us in the salon as most of our tippers use that cash back option to get the money to tip us with. Ah well. As word spreads our regular tippers will start bringing a little extra with them. For now though, it means no tips.

Noon. The sun is high in the sky. Not that I can see it because we're overcast. Two bath dogs come in but I've already got enough on my plate. They'll have to wait until the bather comes in at 1. That's fine by the owners so it doesn't slow me down too much. Just adds more barking to the chorus.

12:30. I'm catching up. Several more dogs are done and it's looking like I'll manage to get to those two poodles pretty soon and get them done by 3:30. Not bad, only half an hour behind.

2:00. All done except for those last two poodles. I'm taking a chocolate break because DAMN I need the energy. I've now reached the point where as soon as my last dogs are done, I can leave. Or at least I can clock out and wait for CC to pick me up, which is just as good because it means my work day is done.

2:30. The last poodle won't stand still. I am not kidding about this, the little guy will NOT stand still. I'm shaving a moving target and the owner has left specific instructions about how she wants this one done. One false move and it's a bad cut. I'm getting frustrated and it's starting to show. Time to take a step back and pause a bit. Let the little guy get some of that energy out of his system.

3:00 All done now except for this last poodle. He still won't stop moving. Every time the clippers come close to him, he turns his head and spins around. Sometimes he tries to bite them. I'm tempted to let him. Problem is, his owner wants him to have a mustache. If he bites the clippers, that mustache is gone.

3:15 mustache almost disappears. While shaving the bridge of his snout, the poodle suddenly turns. Good thing my reflexes still work. He damn near lost half his mustache.

3:35. FREE AT LAST! Poodle is FINALLY done. Had to do most of him by hand (scissoring, it takes MUCH longer to get an even cut that way). There's hair all over the place and I'm 100% covered in it too. Every time I breathe in I can feel it. I'd be sneezing by now except I just don't have the energy. Time to clock out and decompress.

And that's Monday. Or so I think. 5 pm we make it home. CC had a meeting and stayed a bit late. No big deal. It happens. We walk through the front door of the apartment and smell the poo. It's everywhere! Doggies have bad tummies because of some chew bones they've been working on. Poo is NOT solid, I repeat, poo is NOT solid!

Yes . . . it's Monday. Let there be no doubt.

All of this must have some connection with why I like the Hulk. Lately he's been the only Marvel hero who's been consistent. The Fantastic Four have split up yet again and reformed with two new members (Mr. F and Sue are taking some time off to work on their marriage). Iron man has turned into a total control freak and Captain America has up and died on us again. I hate it when that happens.

Meanwhile, poor Robert Bruce Banner has turned into the hulk and been shot into space to deal with a rogue intelligence satellite which has gotten a little too smart for its own good. His job: HULK SMASH! Gotta love that. Such easy instructions. It'd be like someone coming into the salon and asking me to GROOMER SHAVE! It's never that easy in real life.

Anyway, so there the guy us, beating the crap out of the satellite. He wins, they send a shuttle to pick him up. Time to head home right? Well not quite. Seems a group of smart Marvels have decided that we're better off with the Hulk somewhere else. Like ripping up someone else's planet. So rather than bringing him home, they pick an uninhabited planet out there in the middle of nowhere and off he goes. Naturally they fail to take into account this hidden wormhole so he ends up on the wrong planet. And that's where the fun begins.

This sort of thing is ALWAYS happening to Banner/Hulk. It seems to be one of the few constants in the Marvel universe. The other heroes may change their costumes or the teams may change their players. Hell some of the bad guys even become good guys once in a while but none of that changes for the Hulk.

His whole story is one ongoing quest for peace and I guess we can all identify with that to some extent. Hell I know after surviving another Monday that's all I want, just a little peace and quiet. And let's face it, how many times have you wanted to solve a problem the Hulk way? Some guy cut you off in traffic? Just reach out and toss that car onto the side of the road. That'll teach him :-) Some obnoxious jerk yacking at full volume on his cell phone, bragging about how important he is? Reach out and spread a little of the Hulk's love. Just take phone and reduce it to dust with a pinch of your fingers. Trying to watch a movie and the kids behind you won't stop kicking your chair? Why that's no problem for the Hulk. Just pick those kids up, chair and all, and deposit them in some other theater.

We like the Hulk. We like the Hulk especially on Mondays.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Playing around with new looks

Currently Reading: After Dark by Haruki Murakami

I'm messing around with the look of the blog. Not sure how it's going to end up but for now this is where I'm leaving it. I like the over-all Hulk theme but I'm not sure about the background and so forth. I'll have to find a background image that features the Hulk prominently on the left, right or both sides.

Nothing really major happened this week. Just more of the same so I'll spare you all the hair-shaving details :-)

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Back to Work

Currently Reading: After Dark by Haruki Murakami

Well, the vacation is over and it's time to get back to work. Ok, I actually went back to work LAST week, but you get the idea. It was kinda funny actually, I THOUGHT I was due back on the first of June but it turns out I was supposed to be back on the 31st. Don't worry, I didn't get into trouble or anything. It was just a misunderstanding about my schedule but it was pretty funny getting that phone call.

Speaking of the work schedule, I've pretty much settled into a comfortable one. I've got Tuesday and Wednesday off right now and if things work out with our new bather, I'll also have Thursday off. We're going to be training another guy for grooming too so me going to a 4 day work week makes things MUCH easier for everyone all around. It'll give him more time to apprentice with the boss and that makes a HUGE difference. The more you can learn from someone who actually knows what they're doing, the better you'll be fresh out of training.

I don't know how long that will last though. Mostly we find ourselves with plenty of people to do the work because it's summer. That means folks who had to have certain days off because of school are eager to work more hours so they can put away more money. But for the next two or three months things will be low-stress and if all goes well, right at about the time things get stressful for the holidays, we'll have enough people to handle the work.

I was a little surprised by all the new faces when I got back to work last week. Apparently we've been hiring a LOT. I've already seen three new clerks and one new supervisor. I'm still trying to figure out who's no longer working for us. You don't hire that many people at one time unless someone or several someones get fired first.

I'm getting better and faster at doing the dogs, which is great. The more dogs I can do in a day, the more money I can make. I'm still not nearly as fast as my boss but then she's been doing this for a LONG time. One day I'll get there but right now I'm still a bit slower. Everything comes out good though. I haven't managed to mess up a dog yet (knock on wood). And so far everyone has liked the cut I gave them, or at least no one has come back to complain about it. So it looks like I'm getting the hang of this much quicker than I thought I would :-)

Haven't really been doing much other than work since our vacation ended. If you've ready CC's blog you know we watched Pan's Labyrinth the other day. I thought it was really good and very well put together. Makes sense considering it won awards for makeup and costume and so forth. Whether or not you like the story, it was a well-crafted film.

I get a kick out of CC's reaction to it though. She's still trying to figure out just why it was so good. She sees the critics reviews and it's running at 96% over at Rotten Tomatoes which means 96% of all the critics liked it. A movie scores that high it's going to be good. She just isn't quite sure WHY it's good, or rather, why it's SO good that it has gotten almost universally good reviews. To be honest, I couldn't really go into too much detail as to why I like it either. Perhaps because it was just so different from the way movies are usually approached. I mean, how often do you see films that blend revolution with children's faerie tales?

We also saw Shrek The Third. It wasn't as good as the others I don't think but it was still really funny. If they're smart, they'll stop here and not make anymore. At this rate the whole grumpy ogre theme is getting a little tired. Worse, they keep introducing more and more new characters which means less screen time for whoever your favorites are. I would have liked to have seen more of Puss in Boots because I just LOVE him but you can only fit in so much in one movie. I did get a kick out of the princesses storming the castle. That was a hoot. I also loved Snow White making all sorts of dwarf jokes. At one point, they're giving Fiona a baby shower and Snow White, as her gift, gives her a dwarf to work as a babysitter. When Fiona says she can't accept it Snow White tells her not to worry because she's got 6 more at home.

I don't know how close Barry Bonds is to breaking Hank Aaron's home run record but I really hope he doesn't. It may sound mean but I actually find myself wishing some pitcher will nail him with a fastball that ends his career. The guy is a REAL jerk and has clearly been shooting up with something or several somethings. He's put on WAY too much muscle mass and he did it far too quickly. It becomes MUCH more apparent when you look at the old footage of Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth. Aaron is so SKINNY compared to the players these days and Ruth, clearly he never turned down a good meal. At this point though I don't think anyone from MLB is going to step up and do anything about it. There's no sign that Bonds will be banned or that his manager will bench him. So, unless there are any rogue pictures out there willing to take one for the sport, it's looking like Bonds will break the record some time this season.

Hey have you been following basketball? Well no, actually I haven't either, not until last week anyway. In previous seasons I really didn't follow the game until after the all-star break or even until the playoffs. The past few seasons I didn't even really follow it THAT much. This year though, the Spurs have reached the finals yet again and they're finally getting some long over-due respect from the writers. I guess when you beat up on Utah as much as they did during the last series it's impossible NOT to give credit where credit is due. I don't know how much longer they'll remain competitive as a team though. They're the oldest team in the league right now so they're due to lose players to retirement and injuries. Still, one more championship before they start to rebuild would be great :-)