Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Gifts for Geeks

Currently Reading: The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore

So, you've done most of your Christmas shopping but you've still got a few people left to buy for. Worse, at least ONE person left on the list is a geek. What on EARTH do you buy a geek for Christmas without breaking the bank? Well, here's a hint:

You may think I'm kidding but, seriously, giving the gift of soap will not only allow you to cross that person's name off your list, it'll ALSO make the world a better place.

True story here. This afternoon I stopped off at a comic book store on the way home from work. You see, Marvel has been running a special Captain America series that I've been reading and today was the release of number 5 of 6.

So I grab a copy of that and then, because I had the time, I was just browsing the rest of the rack. Wednesday is the day that new comics are released in general, at least for Marvel, so the store is usually fairly crowded.

I'd spotted something that looked interesting on one of the bottom racks so I knelt down to have a look. As I'm flipping through the pages to check the quality of the artwork and to see if it's filled with ads, a geek passes by behind me. Then another, and another. At one point, an uber-geek stands next to me, reading a comic from the TOP rack (I hate it when people are too cheap to buy a comic and just stand there and read). Anyway, I'm checking out a few other issues when all the hair in my nose curls up and screams in agony and the only thing I can think of is "Dear GOD what is that smell?!"

I manage to wiggle away from the rack (more geeks had taken root to read) and again and again my poor nose is assaulted by this violent REEK coming from these guys.

Now, it's not like they were homeless or anything. They all had shoulder bags, weighted down with their laptops. Several had jawbone-style bluetooth headsets on and those aren't exactly cheap either. These guys had money (though they were too cheap to buy a comic -- how lame).

And yet . . .

SO, if you have a geek on your list and this problem sounds very familiar to you, consider investing in a lovely gift basket of shower gels or bath soaps. Let's try and drop a few hints here on the guys who seem to think it's appropriate to go a week or two or three without showering. Now, I will grant you that coming fresh from work, I often carry along a slight hint of wet dog. But I generally don't go wandering out in public smelling like that and if I DO, I don't stay out long. If people want to smell wet dog, they can visit me at work.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

My Ten O'Clock

Just Finished Reading: Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson

Ok so there I am, sitting in the grooming room, just minding my own business, playing a little Super Mario Brothers while waiting for my two little doggies to dry when I hear a knock on the door. Tara, the vet assistant, sticks her head in and says in a cheerful voice, "You 10:00 is here." She pushes open the door and THIS walks in . . .

His name is Ronin and in case you were wondering, YES, he really is as big as he looks in that picture. Notice over to the far right, you can see the corner of a counter. That's an exam table. See, Ronin is just a little too big to fit in any of our kennels so he gets a room of his own.

Of course, he STILL has to go into the tub for his bath, just like all the other dogs that come in. I don't have a room where I can just wash him on the floor. And no, I don't have any sort of automatic lift in there either. Ronin here got into the tub the old-fashioned way. Tara and I lifted him up and put him in.

Fortunately great danes are generally laid-back in their approach to life. They're big dogs that KNOW they're big dogs and so they don't have anything to prove. In fact, if he probably could have crawled up into the tub himself if we'd been able to explain to him what we wanted.

And you folks thought all I did was shave cute little poodles :-)

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Moving On Up

Currently Reading: Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson

As the holiday season winds up, CC and I are winding down the Memphis leg of our adventures. We're scheduled to move out here at the end of the month and start things up again in Nashville. It's certainly been an interesting week or two.

CC, poor thing, is swamped with work. I mean actual work not moving work (though there's still plenty of that left too). They're launching all sorts of new things this month and the beginning of next month so everyone is working very hard to get all that ready. And when you add to that our impending move, you can imagine she's feeling a bit stressed out. Even worse, just this week we found out that the apartment we WERE going to get wasn't going to be vacant after all. The current tenants have decided they're going to stay a little longer which sent our leasing agent scrambling to come up with alternative apartments. This, in turn, sent CC scrambling because just this past Monday we sent out a bunch of Christmas cards and change-of-address notices. Now all of that information has to be changed AGAIN to reflect our new address.

We went up to Nashville on Saturday to have a look at the apartment. The one we're moving into now IS vacant and almost finished with its make-ready. It's certainly a nice place. We've got new appliances (they still have that "new appliance" smell) and new carpeting and fresh paint. New ceiling fan and light fixtures. They've even replaced the counter tops in the kitchen. The whole thing has been renovated and we're the next tenant. Got to like that.

We also have a much nicer view from our patio. In the other apartment we were facing part of the parking lot and part of the grassy courtyard area between the buildings. With this new one, it's all grass and trees and such. Much more relaxing.

Our only real trick is going to be finding room for everything. Our new apartment is a little bit smaller than our current one and doesn't have a HUGE closet like we have now (the one I call the Bat Cave). Yes, we do have an extra bedroom, so that helps. We'll use it as our den/office area. But until we get all of our furniture up there and start moving things around, it's hard to say how everything will fit. I think it'll be just fine. This current apartment we're in now has so much wasted space. The rooms are big, which is great but it also means big chunks of empty space we just can't use. It would look pretty funny if we put a bookshelf smack in the middle of the room right?

We're making progress on the packing too. Last week I packed up the rest of my books. That leaves mostly just big things. CC and I have to pack all the stuff on/in our desks and we'll need to break down the computers as well. But since we intend to use them up until the move, there's only so much we can do. Same thing with the kitchen and the bedroom. We've pretty much packed all the stuff we DEFINITELY won't be needing before the move. Now it's a matter of boxing up things and not taping them shut in case we have to go dig through them before we leave. About the only time-consuming thing left to pack are the dvds. Lots of movies there that'll need to be boxed up.

It's going to be an odd Christmas, that's for sure. Since we're moving between holidays it doesn't make much sense to decorate. Anything we put up will have to come down again immediately after Christmas. And honestly, I don't think stacks of boxes will look nice draped with tinsel. It also makes our Christmas lists odd. Any presents we receive before Christmas will end up going right into packing boxes. That makes it difficult to figure out what to ask for.

Like I said before, it's certainly going to be an adventure :-)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Rippingtons

Currently Reading: Moon Called by Patricia Briggs

Last Friday, the 13th, as I was waiting for my dogs to dry, I was leafing through the entertainment section of the local paper and I came across an article about the jazz group The Rippingtons. They were in town and performing live at a little theater downtown on Beale Street.

They don't play what you'd call "classic" jazz, like dixieland or the more bluesey stuff coming out of Chicago. Nor are they big band like Count Bassie. They're modern, small and very good. They're also one of CC's favorite groups so naturally I clipped the article and brought it home with me (the paper was mine anyway so I'm allowed to do that even after I take it to work).

Anyway, CC absolutely wanted to go see them and even though we weren't all that comfortable going down to Beale Street on a Saturday (it can get a little wild there with all the bars), we got tickets and went down and watched the show. It really was a very good show and I say that not being a big fan. It's not that I don't like them or anything like that. I just prefer my jazz to be more heavy with sax and piano or maybe brass instead of guitar and seeing that their lead/founder, Russ Freeman, is a guitar player, well they're pretty heavy with the guitar.

In addition to Russ, they've also got Rico Belled on bass, Dave Karasony on drums, Bill Heller on keyboard and Jeff Kashiwa on sax. I've got shots of them all here though you really can't see Dave behind the drums. Take my word for it though, he's back there and he's awesome! Late into the show they played a number where he got to show off during a solo. He's also really nice too. See, after the show they were out in the lobby signing autographs and selling copies of their latest CD. Makes perfect sense right? Sell the CD in the lobby during the show and get it signed while you're at it. Anyway, they were all sitting at a long table and we were in line. Jeff and Russ are at one end, bass player in the middle, the drummer and keyboard player at the other end. We were having our CD signed as we went by and the drummer just stuck out his hand and introduced himself while we were waiting. Very nice guys.

It was a fairly laid-back crowd. Pretty much what you'd expect for a light jazz group. This isn't the type of music that inspires people to drink a lot of beer and bang their heads in rythm to the music. We had a great time though and I must say I'm more a fan of theirs now that I've seen them live. I especially liked the numbers that featured the sax player more prominently. He's got his own group called The Sax Pack, plus he had copies of HIS latest solo CD so we got that too.

So, if you're a jazz lover or if you like easy listening music (this is close enough that you might like it), check out The Rippingtons and Jeff Kashiwa. Very good music there.
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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Welcome to the Future!

Currently Reading: Dance Dance Dance by Haruki Murakami

I was going to save this for the Day 3 post but after seeing it again I just didn't want to wait. When you ride Spaceship Earth at Epcot, at one point they take a picture of you and the person sitting next to you. Later, you're asked a series of questions about how you like to vacation. THEN, after the ride is over, you get to see a "postcard from the future" featuring the two of you. You can have that e-mailed to you so you can save it and share it with everyone. Here's how ours came out:

Pretty cool right?

Disney World Pictures!

Currently Reading: Dance Dance Dance by Haruki Murakami

I've finally posted the remaining pictures from the Disney World trip! I know, I've fallen behind a bit. Got a little busy at work plus CC and I went to Nashville last weekend for apartment shopping. So now I'm trying to catch up. Ok, here are the links . . .

Now, obviously for the second days of Epcot and Magic Kingdom there are fewer photos and I still haven't gotten around to adding descriptions and cleaning things up. At the rate I'm going I may NEVER get around to that. But those are the pictures, sorted by day. I'll try and update the blog entries that go along WITH those pictures as soon as I can.

Oh, and make sure you check out CC's blog. She's got more information on our Nashville trip and apartment hunting.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Disney World: Day 1

Just Finished Reading: Stalin's Ghost by Martin Cruz Smith

And we're back . . . back from a very nice, 6-day vacation in sunny Orlando, Florida at the Disney World Caribbean Beach resort. We had a fabulous time and took lots of pictures. We even managed to bring back almost 10 pounds of Disney magic! (disclaimer: CC insists we didn't bring back 10 pounds of extra stuff, just that we packed stuff from our overnight bags into our checked luggage)

Now I'm sure you're all anxious to hear about the trip and our many adventures. Were this back in the 60's I'd be setting up the big screen and breaking out the slide projector for our major presentation. Since it's not, you get these blog entries and some pictures I have saved online that you can see in bulk here. There aren't any descriptions on them but I'm pretty sure you can figure out what's going on. (In the background, I'm uploading the pictures now and it may take time for all of them to be visible)

We didn't have any trouble with our flight out of Memphis. It was raining here (and in fact kept raining the whole time we were gone) but that only delayed our flight by maybe 15 or 20 minutes. It wasn't anything critical. We were fortunate in that we were once again upgraded to business/first class so when we finally were able to board, we had plenty of leg room and the usual great service in-flight.

Orlando has a very strange airport. It's set up a bit like a spider. There's a central hub area where everyone checks in and hands over their luggage and all that, but then you'll probably end up hopping on one of the trams that run to the satellite terminals. That's what happened with us. We arrive and start following the signs and find out we're hopping a train to the main building. Watching the ground from the plane I'm guessing the airport is set up like that because the area is so swampy. Maybe the ground isn't so solid in those spots between terminals.

We head downstairs to the baggage claim area and find the Disney section. You see, since we stayed at a Disney resort, they took care of everything for us. We checked in at the Disney counter, they took our baggage claim tickets and picked up the luggage for us, then had it delivered to our room so we could go right to the park. That's not what we actually DID, but we could have. Instead, we went to our hotel, checked in, got our room key card/ticket/meal pass and then dumped some of our carry-on stuff at the room. THEN we hit Magic Kingdom!

This is my second trip to a Magic Kingdom park and both times have come in the fall when Disney was gearing up for Halloween. As a result, most of my pictures from Disney World look an awful lot like the ones I took at Disney LAND. That's ok though. It's still a great place and we had a wonderful time.

Which rides did we see? Well first we had to stop and get a captioning device. They really come in handy. It's a small thing about the size of an iPhone or one of the fancier iPods with the video and stuff in it. In this case, a little infra-red receiver picks up a signal from the ride you're going on and the device displays captions for that ride. In some cases it'll also play amplified audio so you can just plug in your headphones and hear it that way. I used both methods, depending on the ride. Captions weren't very helpful in Hall of Presidents because you missed all the action by reading, so I used the audio in there. On the other hand, with all the background noise in Haunted Mansion, the captions are the better way to go.

Once we got the captioning device, we did pretty much what everyone does when they first hit Main Street in the Magic Kingdom: we went shopping! I purposely did not bring a hat with me on this trip so I could get a Disney World hat and that was mission number 1. Once we did that, we moved on to mission number 2: lunch!

Because we were staying at a Disney Resort hotel and we were staying for more than 5 nights, we got a meal plan for free. With this plan, you get 1 quick service meal (fast food) one sit-down meal (normal restaurant) and one snack for free every day. This comes in handy and can save you a LOT of money, especially if you intend to eat in the park where a bottle of water costs $2.50 and dinners tend to start around $30 a person. So lunch, quick meal. We grabbed a hot dog at Casey's Corner then headed for the rides.

We hit all of our favorites, including the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean. We also watched the Hall of Presidents show, which they didn't have in L.A. and also It's A Small World. That's right, I actually went on Small World. We skipped it in L.A. (mostly because the line was so long) but there we were, smack in the middle of Fantasyland and no line. In fact, I even managed to grab 5 minutes of video from the ride. You see, you're riding down the middle of all the action. Some things are happening on the left, some on the right so if you want to actually see what's going on on BOTH sides the easiest thing to do is shoot some video and watch it later when you get back to the hotel. What was REALLY funny about the ride was the captioning. You've got all these little kid dolls singing It's a small world after all! OVER and OVER and then every 4th line It's a small, small world! So that's exactly what the captions say. Over and over through the whole thing.

One of my favorites of the day, and of the trip, was the Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor. It's essentially a comedy club type show featuring the guys from Monsters, Inc. Now, before the show, they'll spot people in the audience and put them up on the screen with some funny caption. They picked me out because of the shirt I was wearing and posted me up there with the caption reading "Will buy churros for everyone after the show." Then, the two characters doing the pre-show warm-up on the screen thank me and say that my generosity is greater than my fashion sense. Oh it was great! Lots of laughs and I was happy to be a part of it. I just wish I'd gotten a picture. Ah well.

Dinner that night was the Liberty Tree Tavern. Most definitely our favorite dining the whole trip. It's set up like a colonial tavern which means it pretty much looks like a Steak N Ale but the food was WONDERFUL! It's all you can eat and they bring it to your table for you, not buffet-style. They start you off with a salad and bread, then they bring in the good stuff. You get roast beef, roast turkey and roast pork tenderloin plus mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese and green beans. Oh yeah, we ate good that night. And they will keep bringing plates of meat and bowls of side dishes if you want them to. Great place to eat if you're really hungry. And, of course, you get dessert too. I was WAY too full for that but CC had peach cobbler with the BEST ice cream on top. I had a little of that. Had to help out, of course.

And that was day 1. After dinner, back to the hotel and sleep. Lots and lots of sleep!

Don't forget to check out the rest of the pictures. You can find them over on Picasa here! And I'll keep adding pictures and blog entries until I'm all done!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I'm getting there, just be patient!

Currently Reading: Stalin's Ghost by Martin Cruz Smith

Yeah, I know, haven't been blogging again. I'll get to it though. Let me just get these other things finished up first.

While I'm working on those, check out this cute video . . .

Sunday, June 14, 2009

More Updates!

Currently Reading: Our Man In Havana by Graham Greene

Yes, I know, haven't been blogging regularly like I'm supposed to. I should be blogging every week, at least once, to keep everyone up to date with what's going on. And you know, normally I would but what passes for normal around here changes all the time.

End of May, right around Memorial Day, things took an odd turn. The other groomer that works at the clinic decided she'd had enough of working there and was going to quit after Memorial Day. No problem. Then she just up and quit with no warning the week before. Seriously, one week before Memorial Day she comes to the clinic, packs up all her stuff and walks out, leaving them with a full slate of dogs on the schedule, some of which had already arrived. Talk about rude. One semi-frantic phone call later and I'm on the scene taking over.

Naturally this put a major kink in my daily routine. I went from being off 2 to 3 days a week to working a full 5-day week just like everyone else. That means less time for chores or errands or blogging. I'm still getting used to it and I've been at it now for 3 weeks. The chores are mostly getting done now and so are the errands but the blogging, that's taking a hit and I don't play Warcraft nearly as often as I used to.

So that was event number 1. Number 2 was my endoscopy. I don't remember if I mentioned it but I know I told several people in e-mail and on the phone. I was having a problem with acid reflux and my GP gave me a referral to see a specialist who said we were going to do the scope. Went in and had that done on the first of June. Pretty uneventful actually. CC had read on a web site that most of the discomfort that you feel from the procedure comes BEFORE you actually have it and that's only because you're worried about having it in the first place. Seriously, there was no pain or anything involved. We went over there for the appointment (I had to fast of course). Went into our little curtained off area. I changed into a gown and climbed into bed. After a while they came and got me, wheeled me over to the scoping room. The nurse tech had me roll over onto my side. She put on all the monitoring wires and sticky things and at some point the doctor came in. I remember the ringing in my ears started to go away which means I was starting to lose consciousness. I had just enough time to switch off my hearing aids and BAM. Next thing I know I'm back in the curtained room facing the wall. A little while later, after everything wore off, I got dressed and CC took me home.

The results! Well the findings from the procedure that day say they found a mild sliding hiatal hernia and evidence of nonerosive gastritis. Everything else was normal. They took a biopsy of something and we got those results on the 6th. That also came back normal. They put me on some new meds and that was it. Yeah, I know, boring right?

So that brings us up to our FINAL update, Citizen Cecille!

Yes, it's true, my wife is now an official AMERICAN! On Thursday she had her swearing-in ceremony and that went just fine. I'll skip the details and let her write about that in HER blog. I took lots of pictures so I know she'll share those too.

And that brings everything up to date except for ONE little thing. Our fabulous Japanese neighbors from downstairs had to move back to Japan. His company cut back on the number of workers they needed over here from Japan. So Wednesday, they flew back to Osaka. We're going to miss them. They were great neighbors. We gave them a picture book of Memphis so they'll be able to look at that and remember the good stuff. There was a teary scene Tuesday morning when we gave them the book. They didn't really want to move.

So now there are THREE apartments vacant in our building. I hope we get more good neighbords. Guess we'll have to wait and see.

They Went Through An Awful Lot of Trouble To Kill Winona Ryder

Currently Reading: Our Man In Havana by Graham Greene

I'm sure we've all seen the new Star Trek film by now so I'm not really worried about giving away any spoilers at this point. If you haven't seen it, you probably have no intention of seeing it anyway right? So no worries there. That being said, here's my take on the film . . .

The title says it all. They went through an AWFUL lot of trouble just to kill Winona Ryder. I'm not what you'd call a fan of hers. I wouldn't go so far as to say I'm a Winona HATER but something about that woman just strikes me wrong. On the whole, I can only think of a few movies of hers that I actually liked and in all those cases it had nothing to do with her.

So, on with the Trek. Crazy Romulan ends up going back in time to get revenge on Spock. Not a bad premise for a film. Lots of possibilities there. We've got a new Trek family building up here and, as an added bit of genius, an entirely different time-line to mess with they don't have to worry about upsetting the Trekies.

In this film, Winona plays Spock's mother. Wouldn't have been my first choice but then who really cares right? I mean, she's not a major character or anything and really only shows up a few times in previous Trek outings to mess with Spock and to remind us that he's half human. So no big deal about the casting. I figured I'd just ignore it. I mean hey, who knows, maybe she'll do ok right? But as the plot progresses, I started to think the writers had it in for her.

Ok, Romulan shows up, sticks a big tube into the center of the Vulcan homeworld and starts his machine that creates the mini-black hole in the center of the planet which will make the whole planet implode. Pretty cool actually. Great special effect too. Naturally everyone ON the planet is going to die, including Spock's mom, Winona Ryder. YAY! But wait, a simple, off-camera death isn't good enough. No, they have to send her and several of the Vulcan elders to some secret cave where all these Vulcan relics are being kept.

Enter the Enterprise! Spock and company beam down to the planet in order to save some of these relics so that Vulcan culture can be preserved blah blah blah and wow, what a coincidence, Spock's parents are there. That's just super! Winona is SAVED! Or is she? With the planet imploding around them and things generally going all to hell, they lock onto the coordinates to beam everyone onboard. But wait! What's that happening under Winona's feet? Oh NO! The ledge is collapsing! And . . . wait for it . . . POOF! Winona falls into the gaping chasm thus throwing off the transporting sequence and she dies.

So, in order to kill her off, they don't just shoot her with something or blow her up in a building or even a starship. No, they have to implode an entire PLANET just to get rid of her. But they've got an eye on her, lest she sneak out and somehow survive. Taking refuge in a cave, dodging bolders and stuff falling all over the place, I mean they're TRYING to kill her and still, she won't die. But undaunted, they wait until the last minute before the teleport and BAM that's when they get her.

Just seems like they went through an awful lot of trouble, that's all I'm saying.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Work, Work, Work

Just Finished Reading: The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett

Well it's been quite an eventful week. No, I take that back. It hasn't been eventful so much as just plain busy.

Last week, I was at the clinic, shaving away, when the clinic manager asked me if I was able to work a few extra days this week. Sure, no problem. She comes back and asks me if I'd be able to go full time after Memorial Day. Sure, no problem. There are a couple of days I'll need off due to prior commitments but that's all. Then Monday happened.

Now, I wasn't supposed to work this Monday. I was supposed to come in Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and then work the last week of May. That was the original plan. Unfortunately, the other groomer had a plan of her own. She came in Monday having decided that she wasn't going to work at the clinic anymore. In fact, she wasn't even going to work that DAY. She gathered up her stuff and left. Just like that.

This sent them scrambling a bit at the clinic. We had a full schedule and several of the dogs had already arrived. Further, she took with her the ratty cork board from the door to the grooming room (to which we pin the 5 x 8 index cards recording the dog's grooming history), the chair we sit in (also pretty beaten up) and the little two drawer, plastic cabinet thing that I rest my equipment tray on.

I get a call, I think it was around 8:30 asking if I could come in all week instead of just Tuesday. Well sure, I hadn't made any plans other than the usual chores around the apartment. I didn't know the other groomer had quit at that point. Tara, the vet tech, explained it all to me when I arrived. I didn't know about the missing chair, etc. until I made it back to the grooming room.

Needless to say we were a little miffed about that. I mean, it's damned rude to quit like that. Bad enough she didn't give any notice but to just walk out at the start of an extremely busy week not knowing or caring if anyone could fill in, that's just really unprofessional and petty. I don't know what she was thinking or even IF she was thinking. Obviously she didn't need the money she was making at the clinic, nor did she need to use them as a reference. Ah well, that's her problem, not mine.

So here I am, finally at the end of the week and let me tell you, it's been a VERY busy week. Wednesday was my slow day, 7 dogs. Problem there was they were all difficult in one way or another. Some just wouldn't stand still. Others were severely matted. I ended up taking at least an hour per dog, usually more. Very slow. Seemed like I was spinning my wheels all day. Today, on the other hand, 7 dogs, 2 cats. Finished half an hour earlier than I did Wednesday and didn't feel rushed at all. They were all very well-behaved and there weren't any major problems with any of them. Naturally the cats took a little longer. You know how most cats just LOVE being bathed in strange rooms where there are lots of loud noises, especially when those rooms smell like dog.

Needless to say I've been a bit tired at the end of the day and not really in the mood to do much more than sit here reading the news or maybe playing a little Warcraft (though I haven't spent much time in game either -- no energy). Mostly I've just been resting up to get ready for the next day.

Fortunately Saturday begins a 3-day weekend! WOO HOO! I'm going to need that extra day to catch up on the things I haven't had time/energy to do! But you know, Angel, the clinic manager said something the other day that put everything in perspective. Yeah, we may have to stay late to take care of all these pets. Yeah it may be tiring and we may be working a little harder this week because of the holiday. But at least we're working. We've got a job and a paycheck, unlike a lot of other people these days.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Random Stuff

Just Finished Reading: Wolves Eat Dogs by Martin Cruz Smith

I've been posting a lot of video lately (when I post that is). I was just reviewing my last few entries and they're all about video clips I've seen online somewhere. Usually I like to stick in pictures. Blog entries tend to be a little dull when it's just text so I throw in some visuals.

Going to the doctor June 1 to have an endoscopy. I'm less than thrilled by the prospect. They're going to knock me out and stick a camera down my throat to find out what's causing the acid reflux I've been having. You see, I was treated for acid reflux last fall and while I was on the medication everything was great. Problem is, it came back a few months later and that's not supposed to happen.

CC is back, by the way. She'd been in Manila for just shy of a month. Again, I was less than thrilled (that she was away, not that she's back, I'm TOTALLY thrilled she's back). We're thinking of going on a cruise, probably to Nassau. I'll keep you posted.

With CC gone I didn't really do anything worth mentioning, which is why there haven't been any exciting blog entries. I can't promise that's going to change in the near future but if we DO go on vacation, that'll be something.

It's been gray here for a long time. Today is the first day we've really had any decent sun in a while. Got me feeling all BLAH and my mind is wandering from topic to topic. Ah well, I need to post entries like this from time to time. Sort of like spring cleaning of the brain.

Next time, a less blah entry!

Modern Day Samurai

This video is REALLY cool. It runs a little long (about 8 minutes) but it's pretty amazing. If you ever doubted the legends about what samurai could do, this might convince you.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Facebook Etiquette

Currently Reading: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

Now, I know there are a lot of you out there who are still trying to get the hang of the whole Facebook thing. It's really not all that complicated and you can have a lot of fun keeping in touch with friends and family. However, there are a few rules you should follow. Watch this short video and pay attention. There may be a quiz afterward!

Monday, April 13, 2009

You really have to wonder about some people . . .

Currently Reading: God Emperor of Dune by Frank Herbert

I saw this on Fox the other day and dug up the video. People are just totally clueless sometimes aren't the?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Pitcher out for a month!!

Currently Reading: God Emperor of Dune by Frank Herbert

Baseball is generally a non-contact sport but sometimes things can get a little rough, especially when it comes to sliding into bases or trying to break up a double play by taking out the guy at second base. Then there are fluke accidents like this one:

From MLB.COM's Chris Haft

Doctors determined Saturday that Martinez, who remains hospitalized in San Francisco after being hit on the right forehead Thursday by a Mike Cameron line drive, must rest a month before resuming physical activity. Martinez, 26, also must refrain from airplane travel for two weeks.

On Friday, manager Bruce Bochy expressed hopes that Martinez would pitch sometime in May.

But, as Giants head athletic trainer Dave Groeschner explained, "the guy has three [hairline] fractures [in his skull] and a pretty good concussion. You have to let that get better."

There's been a lot of progress regarding protection for the batter (helmet, shin guards), the catcher (you name it they wear it), even the infielders (light padding under the uniform). It takes an extreme hit like this to remember the risk these pitchers take. Granted it doesn't happen very often but when it does, it's pretty damn scary.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Cherry Blossoms, Monsters and Aliens

Currently Reading: God Emperor of Dune by Frank Herbert

Well, I did say I'd try and post blog entries more often than once a month. Of course, I intended to go back to writing them once a week but I just kept putting it off for one reason or another. And you know, I can't even say that I had nothing to write about because we actually DID do some things, stuff has happened, I have topics to write about.

Let's go back a few weeks. You read it in CC's blog already, but I've got some more pictures from the trip to the Botanic Center and the Cherry Blossom Festival. No, wait, that's not entirely correct. I have pictures from the Botanic Center. I didn't take any pictures from inside where the festival events were taking place. All of my shots come from outside, after we looked at the displays and so forth.

First up though, about those displays. Let me tell you, writing in Japanese is REALLY tricky. Maybe that's a bit over-stated. Writing NEATLY? Writing with STYLE? Calligraphy? Yeah, that's all pretty hard. You see people doing it in the movies and they make it look pretty easy, graceful, artistic. Then you pick up a brush, look at the character you're supposed to be doing and, well like I joked after my first attempt, "I tried to do dream but I think I did nightmare." Oh, and yes, I know the pictures don't really match. I took a lot of shots and I'm trying to work them all in.

CC and I each did two fans with Japanese . . . no, wait a second, she only did ONE. Now that I think about it, the lady running the festival did the first one. We just watched. Then I did one, she did one and I did a second one because, again, dream vs nightmare. My second one, mind, came out pretty well but, as to be expected of me, it's slightly warped so, yes, I have a warped mind (insert drumfill).

They had a huge spread of sushi, which CC sampled. Me, I like the kind they DIDN'T have. See, there's two main types that you find in restaurants. The first type is the rolled kind. It's all laid out in a seaweed wrapper, rolled up then sliced. CC likes that kind. Me, I find the seaweed wrapper a bit strong so I go for the other kind which is pretty much just slap of fish on a hunk of rice. Sounds simple and I suppose it is but that's what I prefer. I usually get the salmon but from time to time I go more exotic and get eel instead.

They also had a little origami table. Now, if you go back and scan some of the older posts, back to August or September, you'll see some of the pictures I took at the Tokyo airport where they had a HUGE display of very complex origami. This wasn't anything like that. This was a more hands-on approach. They encouraged you to take a little piece of paper, pre-cut to the right size and shape, and make a small crane. Then you could take that crane, glue it to a bookmark and decorate it. So I did. And it came out rather well I think. I also took the time to make a few frogs in case anyone wanted to use them instead. For whatever reason, the jumping origami frog is the only one I can remember without having to look at the plans. Even the crane, though I've made lots, I have to look at the plan.

After spending some time inside absorbing Japanese culture, it was off to the great outdoors to feed the koi. You'll recall from CC's entry that she bought 4 bags of fish food at the front desk because we've been through this before. They have a really nice koi pond with a LOT of really HUGE koi and it's fun to stand at the edge of the pond and feed them. It generally turns into a sort of koi battle royale though. Then the ducks and swans get into the fray and you're chucking fish food all over just to keep everyone happy.

We weren't the only ones wandering around in the garden of course. There wa
s supposed to be an actual viewing of the cherry blossoms but they peaked a little too soon this year and most of them had fallen. There were still some blossoms on the trees of course and I have pictures of them to prove it but it's not quite the same as when the whole tree is in bloom.

Anyway, back to the koi. We were standing at the edge of the pond, starting a big fish fight, when some of the other people at the viewing came out and were watching us. CC gave them some food so they could join in and they seemed to enjoy it. We had quite a crowd of fish and fowl following us around. Next came a group of younger people, mostly college age I would say. They were also watching us and I could see they wanted to feed the koi too, especially a girl on crutches so I gave them the remains of my second bag. They had a good time. I think if you look close enough you can make out the crutches, if not the girl using them. That's our handy work (the crowd now the crutches). I think even more people gathered around after we left.

I also noticed there were at least two other groups of people getting portrait pictures taken around the gardens. One couple looked like they were having prom pictures taken. The other group was having wedding shots done. Not the usual white gown and tux shots though. They were dressed in some sort of traditional Asian costume (not Japanese, probably Chinese but could be Thai or something like that).

C and I both had a good time and it wasn't too cold out there. Lots of nice pictures and even a little bit of exercise :-)

That was two weeks ago. LAST weekend CC and I went to see Monsters vs Aliens. If you haven't seen it yet, my advice is to break down and find a place showing it in 3D and pay the extra couple of bucks. It is SO much better in 3D. At least, I THINK it is. I haven't seen it in normal mode so I'm just guessing, but in 3D it was REALLY cool. They didn't spend too much time trying to make things pop out of the screen, which was nice because when they try to make things pop out of the screen, it gets a little fuzzy and my eyes cross and I get headaches. There was one really nice bit with a paddle ball though that almost had me ducking.

If you like animated films or if you like watching movies in 3D, go see Monsters vs Aliens. I'm not going to give an in depth review or anything like that. No spoilers, no pictures, no links. Just go see it. Not like there's much else to watch out there right now :-)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Watching The Watchmen

Currently Reading: Red Square by Martin Cruz Smith

As I mentioned in the previous (and long and rambling) post, we watched Watchmen last week. I've been thinking about it for a while and while I enjoyed the movie and I think it's a good film, I have found a few flaws that didn't come to mind immediately upon viewing. I guess it's the sort of thing you'd file under "something's not quite right about that."

The first incident that I hit upon (there may be others, I've only seen the movie once and it's very visually overpowering at times) comes during one of the prison scenes. Rorschach is in prison, in the lunch line. You can see him right there on the left. Now, the guy in line behind him starts talking about how he's famous and how Rorschach is famous and that's all really just an excuse to get the other prisoners stoked up while he pulls a shiv. So, he tries to stab Rorschach who does a quick turn, flips his tray and uses it as a shield to deflect the knife. Ok so far. Yes, he moves awfully quick but hey, he's Rorschach and he's a psycho so no big leap there. Next, Rorschach punches through that sneeze guard thing there to reach behind the counter. Again, Rorschach is a psycho so we really don't have any problem with that. Behind the counter, there's a french fry cooker. Ok, bad placement, stupid place to put a cooker, but ok, we'll let that one go. Rorschach reaches for the handle, pulls it out and dumps it on the guy who tried to knife him. Ouch, that's gotta hurt. They next cut to a shot of the guy who is down on his knees, screaming in pain, covered in oil that is oozing down over his head and so forth. VERY ouch!

My problem is this: you cook french fries in a basket container. That's what Rorschach grabbed from the cooker. That's what he dumped on the guy. But keep in mind, it's a BASKET! Yes, it would be fully loaded with fries and yes, the guy would get splashed with oil causing him to scream and so forth cause OUCH big time but there wouldn't be SO much oil that he ended up covered in it. Remember, BASKET!

The other problem is a minor matter of a HUGE plot hole opened up by the change in the ending. In the book, a giant, alien squid-like thing teleports into Manhattan and blows up, killing a HUGE portion of the population with some sort of psychic blast. Great. Messy, but great. The idea behind this is that all the countries that were on the verge of war would now turn their concern first to disaster relief and then to dealing with the concept that aliens from another dimension want to attack the earth. Yeah, gotta give up trying to kill each other and focus on trying to kill them giant squid. Gotcha. Makes perfect sense, especially in the world of comic super heroes.

Now, with the movie, the changed that a little bit. Instead of an alien squid, it's Dr. Manhattan who supposedly goes nuts and blows up cities all over the world thus turning everyone's focus on disaster relief and trying to figure out how to deal with a rampaging Dr. Manhattan. So far so good. It's a doable idea, especially given the build-up.

Here's the problem though: Oz uses the heroes' knowledge of his plan to sort of blackmail them into silence. He tells them that if they go off and tell the truth, assuming anyone actually believes them, they'll end up breaking this peace that he's created from the disaster. Now, no one wants to do THAT because we're talking about the whole world being on the brink of nuclear war. So they agree to stay silent . . . everyone except Rorschach. His whole motto is not to surrender, even in the face of armegeddon. He storms out of Oz's hideout, Dr. Manhattan meets him outside and Rorschach pretty much tells the doc that there's no choice. The only way to stop Rorschach from telling the truth is to kill him. Rorschach even says outright to go ahead and do it.

Now, in the squid version, that works. You have to kill off Rorschach to keep him from blowing the cover on the whole squid story that brought peace. But in the Dr. Manhattan version, that doesn't really cut it. Say Rorschach does make it back to New York and he sits down with reporters and tells them everything that happened and they all believe him. Does that really break the peace? No. That shifts blame from Dr. Manhattan to Ozymandias. Instead of having to focus on how to stop the rampaging blue man group escapee, you've only got to deal with the worlds' smartest gay businessman. Well, plus disaster relief.

Thus, Rorschach's death is pretty much unnecessary.

I'm sure at some point I'll see the movie again. I really did enjoy it. But, like I said, it's not perfect.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Catching Up

Currently Reading: Red Square by Martin Cruz Smith

It's been almost a month since my last blog entry. I can't really claim any particular reason why I haven't written. I haven't been away on any trips or in the hospital or anything like that. And really, it's not because I've been lazy either. I've just fallen out of the habit of posting on a regular basis.

I suppose a part of that is due to all the crap in the news. Yes, it's crap. Let's face it, it's crap. It's gotten to the point where I barely skim the headlines anymore. If the papers are to be believed, we seem to be mostly preoccupied with 1. the failure of the economy and how it's all the fault of George W. and those evil republicans, 2. someone famous who did something incredibly stupid, like the singer who got the crap beat out of her by her boyfriend and has now taken him back, and 3. how amazingly amazing this Obama guy and his wife are.

I was reading an article over at the Wall Street Journal site earlier today and the writer was asking around about how people felt, in general about things. Most everyone said they were feeling a bit stressed. Ok, more than a BIT stressed. One guy was talking about stocking up on gold coins only to find out that there's now a 6 week waiting list to buy them because so many OTHER people are out buying gold coins.

Now, I look at the people in that article, expressing their genuine concern over things economic and I compare that to the crap I read in the paper and it just doesn't match. According to the paper, George W. destroyed everything economic and he's gone now and this Obama guy and his wife are just so AMAZING so clearly all of the problems in the universe are solved right?

I think it must be a sign of old age when your general reaction to almost anything in the news is to rub the bridge of your nose, shake your head and mutter "stupid, stupid stupid." I used to chuckle when I'd see people doing that. They were all OLD people of course. Now I'm one of those old people doing the same thing. Sadly, we seem to be a growing percentage of the population.

Anyway, I suppose that's part of the reason I haven't posted anything in a month. I keep hearing crap in the news and I just KNOW that my reaction to said crap is going to make the awesome Obama fans cringe and shake their heads and say how out of touch I am with reality, etc. So I've kept quiet.

But it's still crap :-)

And just what HAVE I been doing this past month? Well, I've been playing Warcraft. CC is still way better than me at it though. I think. At least she's a lot more consistant in her play than I am. She took her one character all the way up, almost to its maximum level now. Me, I'm still dividing my time between 8 or 9 different ones and they're all at different points in the game. I play one for a while, then lose interest and switch over to another one. It's funny, CC actually went out and got the upgrade to expand the game further so she can play her character to an even higher level. I have no doubt she'll reach the maximum for that addition soon :-)

I'm also still working at the clinic, grooming dogs at least twice a week. Sometimes I get more days in because the other groomer calls in. She went on vacation a week or so ago so I filled in then too. This week in particular has been VERY slow. In fact, even the traffic in the area has been lower than usual. The women at work tell me it's probably due to Spring Break. That makes sense.

I've also been doing my usual reading, though I'm slowing down I think. It's mid-March and I've only read 7 books. That seems low. On the other hand, I did start a few and never finished them, and those don't show up on the list. I was reading Canterbury Tales for a while, just because I hadn't read it in a LONG time. And last week I skimmed through Watchmen again before seeing the movie.

Had a birthday, drawing me just a LITTLE bit closer to that big number 40. In less than a year I'll be 40. Just 358 days to go.

We saw Watchmen last week. I really did enjoy it. I don't care that it wasn't a perfect replication of the book. It's a movie. It's not SUPPOSED to be a perfect copy. It had a running time of over 2 and a half hours. You've got to cut SOMETHING, right? It's unreasonable to reproduce everything from the book. You'd end up with a mini-series instead of a movie and those characters could never generate enough interest for a mini-series.

It is a good story. Certainly a much more realistic view of what super heroes would be like. Yes, you'd have to be walking the edge of psychosis to do what they do. And you just KNOW that there would be the occasional, violent, bloody ending to their stories. You plop a very real Batman down in a very real universe and he will eventually get bumped off. Or he'll go crazy. Or his ego will get so inflated that he screws up and ends up getting bumped off.

It's a very violent movie though. It's rated R for a reason. It's what you'd call a HARD R. This is not a film that throws in some profanity to push its way up from the PG-13 ranks. But then it has to be a hard R to really tell the story. I'm sure the studio would have LOVED a PG-13 version because that would mean a much wider audience. R-rated movies don't do nearly as well at the box office because of the limited market. But you really couldn't tell the story in a PG-13 way. You need all the blood and violence and sex and profanity to create that twisted little universe.

It was a little creepy to when CC and I went to see it on Sunday. Yes, it was creepy just to be in a room with that many geeks and NOT be at a sci fi convention. CC quite clearly remembers the guy in the Green Lantern shirt and I have a rather vivid image of row after row of middle-aged, balding, fat guys. And there were a few college-age kids in there, dressed in black, pony tails, combat boots. That's what happens when a geek tries to dress TOUGH.

What was REALLY creepy was the couple that brought their kid with them. This kid couldn't have been more than middle-school age. CC thinks he was maybe 11. I'd go probably 12 or 13 at the most. But the adults he was with didn't seem to think he was too young to watch it. That would suggest either they didn't know what the movie was like and didn't really care when they found out or that they knew what it was like and didn't care. Probably they knew, didn't care, and they were all de-sensitized to the whole thing. That's kinda sad. You're SUPPOSED to cringe at the violence that the good guys do in the name of justice. That's one of the points of the book.

Ah well. You'll go and see it or not and my opinion of the movie won't change your mind one way or the other. It's one of those films. You either want to see it based on the previews or from having read the book or you DON'T want to see it (for the same reasons).

Ok, all caught up pretty much. Let's hope it doesn't take me ANOTHER month to post something.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Chinese Mammoth Tusk Carvings

Currently Reading: A Wild Haruki Chase by The Japan Foundation

Spent the whole day working on pictures and video from last week's trip to the museum. The last entry gave a brief summary and a few pictures (but with links to the gallery on facebook). This entry is for the remaining video clips. There are only three and they're short but I uploaded them to YouTube in high quality so you'd get a better shot of the detailed work.

If you haven't seen the previous entry with the picture links and the remaining video, scroll down and have a look.

The Belz

Currently Reading: A Wild Haruki Chase: Reading Murakami Around the World by The Japan Foundation

Last week, CC and I decided to take a break from our usual pattern and go downtown. I wasn't too thrilled with the idea at first. Yes, that's where the famous Peabody Hotel is located (seen it, ducks and all) and Beale Street (seen it from a distance), but downtown never appealed to me. In fact, I usually avoid it, if possible. What can I say, there just isn't much down there that I like.

Well, she found this place called the Belz Museum of Asian & Judia Art. It's a small museum with pieces from, as the name implies, Asia (with some Jewish art in another wing off to the side). I thought that was an odd combination. Certainly not two styles of art you generally see together.

Anyway, so off we go. They had some REALLY nice pieces there and I was surprised by how MANY pieces they had. The place isn't very big and it doesn't really stand out in any way. I suppose the view from the outside is rather deceptive. It's actually in the basement of whatever building it's in. You go through an entry hall and then downstairs to the museum. That really does work to its advantage because it keeps things nice and quiet.

They had pieces from various places and historical periods. I didn't really try to figure out if they were laid out in any particular pattern. Mostly I just kept taking pictures of things. They allowed picture taking provided you don't use a flash. I just kept on taking shots of anything that looked nice (which is pretty much everything) but I also figured that, with no flash, low light, slow shutter speed, your chances of getting blurry pictures goes up. Turns out I held my camera pretty steady. I have over 100 photos from the trip posted on Facebook. I had to break it down into two galleries so you can find them here and here.

The museum's collection is light when it comes to all art. Very few paintings or hangings. What they DO have is a wide variety of sculpture, including quite a bit of jade, quartz and ivory. There is also a section towards the end of the Asian wing where a small collection of puppets are on display.

They have several ivory sculptures, both large (free-standing pieces that are at least as big as me, some standing near 6 feet tall!) and small (quite a few glass cabinets filled with smaller, book-sized carvings, no more than 10 inches), and they've included some carved, mammoth tusks. These things were carved with such amazing detail that the pictures alone really didn't do it justice so I took video of them. Here's the first:

Pretty cool right? So, when you've got some time, head on over to galleries and look at the pictures. I'll post more of the video as I get it uploaded.

We spent quite a long time in the museum, then went over to Beale street for lunch. CC had already researched where she wanted to go so we had our lunch then went down the street a little bit. I got a chuckle later when CC mentioned that Beale street smelled like beer. Yeah, that was probably leftover from the previous night's partying. Then again, that happens pretty much every weekend so it probably has a permanent smell by now.

We also stopped in at a great little country store. Very old-fashioned place. They only took cash. It would have been a great place to buy souvenirs if we were tourists.

Finally, we rode the trolley for a bit. We basically just took it through one loop down Main street and then over to the river and back. It was a nice ride but there are so many parts of downtown that are just plain depressing. There are just too many buildings that have been left to decay.

So there you have it, our trip to the museum last week. Don't forget to look at those pictures. And if you're IN Memphis, or in the area, stop in at the Belz Museum. It's a great place to visit.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Just Stuff On My Mind

Currently Reading: Bad Monkeys by Matt Ruff

Mid-January. Very odd time for me for some reason. Always has been I suppose. It was in mid-January, many years ago, that we moved to Memphis. Mid-January is when Judy and John were finally ready for their Christmas party. It's also when things finally start to feel cold down here in the south.

So, what's going on here these days, in this historically weird period of time? Well, we've got a new president. I can't say I'm an avid backer, that's for sure. Hell I didn't even vote for him. Yes, that's right, call me evil, call me a fascist or a hater or whatever. You'd be wrong of course, but that's the kind of things you get called these days if you don't back Obama 100%. I'll be honest, I read his speech from yesterday and it was ok. It wasn't THRILLING but it was ok. About the same as all the others I remember.

Thing is, I find myself feeling a little sorry for this guy. Let's assume he actually means what he says. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt on that one. There's no WAY he can do everything he wants to do. Name a president in history that has ever been able to do what they wanted to. Even the Roosevelts never got EVERYTHING they wanted. His bubble will burst within a few weeks I suppose. But then, even worse, the press has built up expectations for this guy to an unreasonable degree. There's no way he can live up to that.

The real question is what will happen when he makes his first mistakes (and he will, they always do). Will the press turn on him and start a big feeding frenzy, maybe accuse him of lying to them or misrepresenting himself during the campaign? Will they feel disillusioned and bemoan the lack of integrity in politics? Or will they go the opposite route and make sure that, no matter what he does, Obama NEVER fails? I can see that happening too. Every little error is spun around to make him look better or, if necessary, blame is shifted to someone else.

Juan Williams, who I never really liked much but who seems to have mellowed now that he's away from CNN and a few years older, had agreat piece in the Wall Street Journal. He said we can't rate Obama as the first African-American president. To do so would be condescending and imply that there's something inferior about an African-American as president. Instead, we've got to rate this guy as a president, hold him up to the same standards as the 43 guys who came before him. So, ok, I can do that. Let's see what he does and go from there.

* * *

What else is going on? Hmm, I'm still working at the vet clinic, as you've probably read from CC's blog. I'm really enjoying it there. You know, I never really noticed how stressful things were getting at the other salon until I left it. And now that I'm working again, I can see how so much of the drama there was just not necessary. I guess the problem is you have too many people maneuvering to get as many dogs as possible and thus make as much money as possible. No one wants to outright fight for it but they will do what they can to grab their piece of the pie. At the clinic, I don't have that problem and it makes a HUGE difference.

* * *

We had some snow on Tuesday which allowed me to earn a little extra money this week. It was funny actually. I was still in bed, just watching TV with CC and the dogs when CC told me my phone was ringing. I got up and went out to the living room and looked at the call log. Figured it was the clinic so I called back. The clinic manager tells me that the other groomer isn't coming in and they want to know if I can fill in. I joke that she probably skipped out to watch the innaguration ceremonies to which the manager replies, "no, she didn't want to drive in the snow." Snow? There's snow?

Sure enough, after telling them I'd be there around 9ish, I look out the window (we hadn't opened the blinds yet) and it's snowing. It was mostly a cosmetic snow, nothing serious. Light and fluffy stuff. It didn't pack and didn't stick to the roads, except on the bridges. Sure did look nice for a while though, like living in a snow globe.

* * *

CC's birthday is coming up. Yup, she'll turn on the 1st. In order to celebrate, I've decided to set up a football game down in Florida between Pittsburgh and Arizona. I'm not sure if it'll be any good or not but it was the best I could do on such short notice.

* * *

We're getting our wii soon. CC's ordered one online and it should ship in a few days. She'll have it by her birthday so maybe we'll pick up a few things like new games or controllers. We'll have to see what's available.

That's pretty much it. It's been a slow week over here. But with CC's birthday coming up and my birthday a month after that and spring right around the corner, who knows. Maybe we'll have some adventure! Or maybe not :-)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The IT Crowd

Currently Reading: Between Books

There's a great show in the UK called The IT Crowd. Anyone who has ever worked in an IT department or even had to CALL the IT department will recognize these people. It's a great show, definitely worth your time. You can find clips over on YouTube.

After seeing this one particular scene, had to share it. I only wish I could actually set someone up like this but I don't think I know anyone who would believe it.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Cat, and Other Stories

Currently Reading: Between Books Right Now

This is a cat. He has a name. Someone at the clinic told me that name at one point but I find that as I lose my hearing, it's much harder for me to remember names that I don't see written down first. Odd isn't it? Introduce me to two people, one with a name tag on and one without and I'll remember the one with the name tag.

Anyway, this is a cat. Right now, he lives at the clinic. I call him Red most of the time, though I occasionally call him Moe too, after Morris, the 9 Lives cat food cat. The colors are a little off on the picture but trust me, he does look a LOT like Morris.

Red here, in case you haven't guessed, is sitting on my grooming table. You see, he looked in on me the other day and noticed that I wasn't doing anything other than waiting for dogs to dry. He immediately assumed that I needed something to fill the time so he leaped up unto my table and lay down on my PDA. Red's theory is, like most cats', that if you have free time, it should be spent entertaining or petting the nearest cat.

He's really a nice guy though, but he does tend to get a bit loud when he thinks we're not paying enough attention to him. He's got a very loud meow and he's very bold. He doesn't shy away from new people and the dogs in the clinic don't seem to bother him in the slightest.

Twice now the clinic manager has tried to get me to take him home. As nice a cat as he is, I don't think the dogs would approve of sharing any more than they already do. Katya, in case I hadn't mentioned it before, now gets so jealous of our bird Sparky that when he's out and lands on my shoulder, she goes into the closet and pouts. Yes, that's right, she walks down the hall, through the bedroom and into the closet, plops down behind the hanging clothes, and sulks a bit.

And speaking of odd dog behavior, I washed my first sedated dog Monday. That was a very odd experience. This dog, a very sweet girl I'm sure, is terrified of coming to the clinic for grooming. At least, that's what the card says. I didn't get a chance to meet her before the sedation so I really can't be sure.

When I got her, she was completely stoned. She was laying on her side in the kennel and was so out of it she couldn't even stand up. Oh yeah, I've been there. Take me to the dentist and I'm SO there. Plus, I've also had surgery twice now so I can sympathize with that whole sensation of being that far out of it.

I had to carry her to the grooming room and then hold her head up with one hand while I washed her. She'd just let it droop and the water would get in her ears and stuff. Poor thing. On the plus side, she REALLY seemed interested in those lights in the ceiling. Kept staring at them, one, then the other, then the first one again, back and forth. And I will admit, she did lay pretty much perfectly still during the whole thing, including the dryer.

I kept her with me for a little while after she was done just to make sure she was doing ok. She was starting to come out of it a little and seemed to grow more and more tense as time went by. She turned out just fine though but probably felt a bit odd the rest of the day.

I have now groomed 22 dogs since starting the new job and I think I've got a pretty good handle on the clients who come in. They're MUCH less difficult than the ones from the other salon, that's for sure. Of course, it helps that I almost never see them. Even more so, they're used to not having very many options with their cut. It really seems to throw them off a bit when I ask how short they want it done or what style. Usually they just say, "uh, make him look as good as you can." This is good though. It lets me develop my skills as a groomer without the stress and drama of a large grooming salon.

I guess you could say I'm settling in nicely over there and everyone seems pleased with my work and happy to have me there.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

The New Job

Currently Reading: 1984 by George Orwell

I'm about to start my second week at the new job and I must say I really am enjoying things there a whole lot more than I did at the other salon.  

For starters, it's small.  VERY small.  So small in fact that there are only two groomers and we don't work on the same day.  I think I mentioned this before, they're going to phase out the other groomer.  I think she's looking for work somewhere else or maybe is moving to another salon.  Anyway, what this means is that I don't have to share.  Yeah, that sounds selfish but one of the big problems at the other salon was that we were VERY over-staffed.  You'd have two or three groomers having to split 5 or 6 dogs that come in.  Or worse, most of the dogs are scheduled for the early morning hours and I wouldn't be scheduled to arrive until 11.  As a result, the morning person would end up with 5 dogs and I'd get 1.  Well that's no longer a problem.  Everything that comes in, bath or cut, is mine and I get the same commission either way.

Another benefit is that I no longer have to worry about answering the phone, scheduling appointments and spending a lot of time checking the pets in.  That would really cut into the amount of time you could dedicate to a single pet.  Instead, the clinic manager checks in all the pets and takes care of all the paperwork.  All I have to do is bathe and groom.

Of course, one of the HUGE differences is the lack of drama.  Again, this is a small clinic so you have one vet, a vet tech and the clinic manager.  That's pretty much it.  No drama!  That also means much less stress along the way and no worries about whether or not everything is going to come to a screeching halt every and move into crisis mode every time the phone rings.

The clinic is not part of any major corporation which brings us to yet another benefit: fewer rules!  At the other salon there was a rule and/or procedure for EVERYTHING.  Every little incident that happened in the salon had to be documented and put in the computer.  Have a dog nip at you?  If it missed, no problem but if it connected, got to write that up.  Customer unhappy with something?  Can't take care of that yourself.  You've got to follow the complaint procedure no matter how minor.  The way things were going over there, we were spending more time on paperwork than we were on the dogs.

I must say I'm pretty happy at this new place.   Everyone is very nice and very helpful and, I suspect, used to dealing with groomers who divas.  That's pretty common in the grooming industry I'm afraid.  Groomers have a reputation for being difficult to work with.  I guess in that sense I'm more like a dog barber than a groomer and I certainly wouldn't call myself a STYLIST.  When you have a groomer who uses the stylist lable, look out.  You're in for some attitude.

So it's back to work tomorrow for me.  No idea how many dogs I'll have or how difficult they'll be.  Last week I only worked on Friday and I had WAY more dogs than I was getting at the other salon.  Even if I'm only getting 3 or 4 dogs a day though, that's still at least as much as I would regularly get at the other place and here I have a much friendlier atmosphere to work in.

Best of all, the clinic is closed on weekends which means I FINALLY get to spend a little time with my wife once in a while ;-)