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 ;-)