I've also been told I have little tact, so if this offends you simply ride on.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

On the naming of puppies

I've always advocated that when you lose a pet, the best thing to do is find a replacement as soon as possible.  Nothing heals the wound like the rub of a 12 week old puppy nose.  With this in mind, I began sending out emails today.  I'm looking for another Boxer puppy - one that will not take Gertie's place, but which will still help fill the hole in my heart.  I've already started getting replies.
At some point I will need to decide if I want a male or a female, so far I've only owned females.  Then there is the name.  Gertie was named after my paternal grandmother, Gertrude Wiest and Lilly is named after my maternal grandmother Lillian D'aubert (that's right, I'm German / French).  If I were to go with a male I could start hitting my grandfathers.  My maternal grandfather's name is Levi.  That has a bit of ring to it.  My paternal grandfather's name was Roy....  Roy....  Why would anyone want to name a dog Roy?

Lilly and Gertie in happier days

Like everybody, I do have a number of deceased relatives who have simply wonderful names, there's a Minnie, and a Gracie, and a Mae and a Laura, there's even an Abbie, though, according to my brother everybody called her Abigail.  On the male side there have been several Johns, a Robb, a Richard and a Cletus, which is another one which might not make a good dog's name.
Of course, in the end, it doesn't make any difference what you name a dog, what's important is the connection you build.  Five and a half years ago I drove north to a breeder on a cool, autumn morning.  There was still frost on the ground when I got there.  The breeder's kennels were heated on the inside, but each had a door leading out to a running area so the puppies could get out and run around.  As we approached, a single puppy walked out and sat down.  I paused a second or two and then turned to the breeder and said, "I'll take that one."

Monday, February 23, 2015

When bad things happen

Saturday was a terrible day for me.  Everything started off fine.  I got out of bed, left the dogs out, and made a pot of coffee.  I then took care of some banking on the computer upstairs.  Lilly went back to bed and Gertie lay by my feet.  I finished the banking bit a little after 7 and was getting ready to go downstairs for another cup of coffee when Gertie started to stand up.  To my surprise, her backside slid sideways into the desk as she sat back down suddenly.  She gave a whimper and I thought, oh shit, she's having a seizure.  So I got down on my knees and cradled her head and told her it was going to be okay.  But it wasn't.  She wasn't having a seizure, she was dying.  Saturday morning, a little after 7, my five and a half year old Boxer died in my arms.

Gertie on her 5th birthday
Not surprising, when I called my Vet, I was told that if I can bring her body to them they will perform an autopsy... for a fee.  I declined.  I then called Peaceful Passage, which is a Pet Cemetery / Crematorium that I'd used once before for my cat Spot.  They would send someone out to pick her up within an hour and a half.  When the gentleman arrived, I took him upstairs to show him where she was laying.  "She's young," he said, "did you Vet diagnose her with a heart murmur?"  He looked a little surprised when I told him "no."  "They cause blood clots," he said, to which I replied "oh."
Just as it's rare for a 35 year-old person to fall over dead, it's just as rare for that to happen to a 5 and a half year old dog.  No one ever told me dogs could get heart murmurs, and now it's too late for Gertie.  Had my Vet spent more time talking to me about the aging process for dogs and what kind of things can effect their health, and less time trying to coerce me into getting Lyme Disease tests and fecal exams, things might have turned out different.  They didn't.
Saturday was a truly terrible day for me.  Sunday wasn't much better.  There is no guide book to tell you what to do when bad things happen.

Friday, February 20, 2015

The NRC - Frozen to the ground

While some people get to look out their windows and see snowdrops, when I look out my window I get to see the NRC* frozen to the ground.

* NRC = Naked Rubber Chicken

Last night the temp went down to 0 Fahrenheit, I don't know what that is in Celsius, but it's cold.  According to AccuWeather the temp is not to get it's going to warm by about 10 to 15 degrees during the next 10 days - which is not much.  I am really getting tired of the cold.  The dogs hate to go out.  They zip out and zip back and run rampant through the house, since it's too cold for them to chase each other outside.  I am so ready for spring.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Beating the cold with Dragon Age Inquisition

When I got up this morning the temperature outside was 6 degrees Fahrenheit - that's cold.  Of course the temperatures farther north are much colder so I'm not going to complain, spring is on the way and things will begin to warm up.  The problem for people around here is that we've been spoiled by quite a number of years of warmer winters.  Two years ago weather patterns began to shift back to what was considered normal for this part of the country, which equals more cold and more snow.  This is how it goes.  If you want a warmer climate move south.
As it is, I'm off today so I don't need to go outside.  My plans are to do a little cleaning, maybe watch a movie (I have The Avengers) and, of course play a little Dragon Age Inquisition.  There was a lot of concern before this game was released because the 2nd installment was a load of crap, most likely because Bioware had no idea how to handle the franchise they were creating.  After being severely slammed by a vast majority of players they actually put a lot of time and effort into this game, and it shows.
For those of you who don't know, this is an RPG (Role Playing Game) which means you not only have to craft weapons and armor, you also get to design your own Inquisitor.  This is the guy I created:

 This is the first time I've created a character with ginger hair - usually they're bald.  You can do all sorts of things during the creation process: body types, facial features, hair, even other species.  Oddly enough, I know a couple of guys who design leads that are female rather then male.  Don't ask me about the psychology going on there, I don't understand it.  Anyway, this is one of the reasons I play games.  Of course, I also enjoy FPS (First Person Shooters) where you craft very little, but you do get to shoot a lot of things.  At some point later this afternoon I'll be playing a little Dragon Age - I've got to take out this giant that keeps killing me with big rocks.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Jupiter Ascending is pretty dog gone good!

I went to see "Jupiter Ascending" last evening with a friend - and we both really enjoyed it.  In fact, I thought it was pretty damn good entertainment, which is one of the main reasons I go to the movies.  This morning I started looking at some of the reviews out there to see why people seem so against this movie.  Surprisingly, every critic that I read brought up some comparison to "The Matrix," and how old is that movie?  Then I realized that was the problem - "The Matrix" is a sci-fi thriller and "Jupiter Ascending" is a space opera, and everyone seems to have secretly been praying it to be another thriller.  People, it ain't never going to happen, so get over it.  One reviewer pointed out that in this movie they can rebuild Chicago in a day and then went on to reference Katrina's destruction of New Orleans... excuse me.  One noted that none of the leads was black.  He evidently missed the Captain of the Aegis, who is black, and female, and has more screen time then Sean Bean.

 If you have any interest in "Jupiter Ascending" go see it on a big screen.  The story is actually pretty interesting:  genetically altered space wolf gets hired to locate the exact genetic match to a dead space princess... and just about everybody wants her dead (except him).  I suspect that this is one of those films whose popularity will continually increase over time. Besides, how often are you going to get the chance to see Channing Tatum with a little, gold goatee and cute pointy ears flying around in surfer space boots.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The nice guy vs the smart ass pumpkin

The minute I got to work last night aforementioned Cathy, who'd proclaimed she was a "worker" started whining.  "I'm so sore.  I had to take 2 Aleve.  And use a heating pad."  My sympathies were not with her since it had been her helper, Andy, who'd been up on the order picker Monday night.  She stood on the floor for most of her shift and told him what to do.  And what was he moving?  Light bulbs.  Silly me, I wasted my breath while reminding her I'd been moving around 5 gallon buckets of paint.  Believe me, walls are more interested then she.  Anyway, she popped her helper back on the order picker and went to play around with exterior light scones while I went and played with rolls of 100 x 20 foot 8 mil plastic (the weight in around 75 pounds).  By 0230 my overheads were finished and I had to use busy work to fill in the next 2 hours.

This is an order picker
Around 1100 this morning I called to let them know my overheads were in tip top shape and they said "we know.  What do you want to do?"  And I said, "Hhhmm, I thought I'd take a couple of days vacation."  And they said "would you want to come in and help Cathy?"  And I turned into a smart-ass and said "nope, she's a worker.  She can't wait for these overnights."  Of course, she's behind schedule.  It's not that her helper isn't moving fast enough, she just isn't helping.  I'm taking vacation for the next 2 days.  However, to prove there is a bit of a 'nice guy' hiding on the inside, I told them I'd give her 4 hours on Friday evening.  Only until midnight, though.  When the clock strikes 12 on Fridays I turn into a smart-ass pumpkin.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Smart-ass? Me?

Lat night was the first of my over night  work week, and I can now guarantee all the work I'm supposed to be doing over that 40 hour period will be accomplished in about 12 hours (and that's stretching it out).  The Electrical Department Manager is also doing overnights this week, her name is Cathy.  Cathy gets pissed at me when I say things like "I really hate working overnights," and "I'm just about finished."  Last night she said "you're working the full 40 hours, so get over it."  She followed this up by saying "I'm a worker, I get things done."  Ho - hum.  She has a helper, I've been doing all of my work by myself, oh, and I've been doing my for the past couple of weeks and she just started last night.  What did I do last night?  Well, I moved 48 five gallon buckets of paint from one aisle to another and arranged them all by brand and by sheen (flat, eggshell, satin, and semi-gloss).

This baby weighs over 50 lbs.

I talked to management earlier this morning and it looks as though tonight is going to be my last overnight - no 40 hours for me.  I would love to makes some smart-ass comment to Cathy, but I won't.  Well... maybe when I leave the store tomorrow morning I might say "see, I'm a worker too.  In fact I'm such a damn good worker I get all of my work done in 16 hours rather then 40."  While that would be rather rude, I have been known to be a smart-ass from time to time.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Elon Musk and Richard Branson rise while Chuck and Dave Koch dive

The other day I read that some how the Koch brothers, Chuck and Dave, through one of they back (Citizens United?) has managed to give a smack back to the governor of Tennessee,  Evidently the Guv wanted to expand Medicare coverage or increase it and Chuck and Dave hate Medicare - the word Obamacare gives them such a sour stomach they need to reach for the Rolaids.  Anyway, as I read the article, which noted the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of millions Chuck and Dave were contributing in order to foist their agenda upon America, I sat back and wondered if they didn't realize 25 years from now they'll both be dead from old age (one of them is 74 and the other is 80).  That's not a long time.  In fact, in spite of the supreme medical care their extreme wealth allows them to enjoy, even 15 years might be pushing it.  Don't they realize nothing they do will be long lasting.  They will be forgotten, only remembered by those studying those arts used by the wealthy in an attempt to control the world around them.  Who will be remembered?  Elon Musk, for one.

Richard Branson will also be notably obvious in history books.  And there will be other names; those leading us into the future.  While Space X will be helping to colonize the moon and eventually leading us on to Mars, the remains of the Chuck and Dave Koch will be enshrined somewhere.  While Virgin Galactic will be taking passengers on excursions to the dark side of the moon, dust will be gathering on tombs of Chuck and Dave.  This is how the world turns.  Those who take us into the future will be immortalized.  One hundred years we name things after them while Chuck and Dave will most like be nothing more then footnotes.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Night Watch Hell

Way back when the decision was made that all Department Managers would work a full week of OVERNIGHTS, I pointed out that my department was already in tip top shape.  I was told I was completely mistaken, that I didn't really know what I was talking about.  I was told "you have no idea of how much work is actually involved," by both the Store Manager and Assistant Manager whose last day was Friday.
Things have changed.  When I walked my department yesterday with the Assistant Manager I report to, he said, "my, your overheads are just about done.  In fact, we were talking about how there really isn't anything for you to do."  Which is what I told them a month and a half ago.  Insanity has now left the building.  When I first graduated from college, I worked nights as an auditor, going over numbers, making sure, accounting wise, everything was squeaky clean.  I hated it.  I'm a morning person, not a night person.  I do not enjoy the Night Watch.

As a result of this manager's leaving, I will not be forced in to working a full week (40 hours) of overnights.  I told them I'd work maybe 2 nights and then take vacation (I normally do take some vacation this time of the year because business is slow).  When I told one of my fellow Department Managers this she said, "well, you can come over to my department and help me."  To which I replied "no, I don't think so."  I didn't spend my days pro-actively getting my department into shape just so I could spend some Night Watch hours getting the sockets in Electrical in order.  I want to spend as little of my time as possible in Night Watch hell.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

When managers go crazy

Yesterday was the last day for one of our Assistant Mangers, he was transferred to another store.  He will not be missed.  The transfer is not a good one since he's going from the highest volume store in the district to the lowest.  Your career is not supposed to move backwards.  Unfortunately for this gentleman, his career has been doing that for some time.  At one point he had been a Store Manager in another district, that's where he peaked.  While I was doing my stint in HR, I had the opportunity to talk with 2 of the store managers from his old district.  They spoke poorly of his performance.  Actually they called him crazy, and said he'd been pulling all sorts of "crazy shit."  One of them thought he'd been fired, the other thought he'd quit, they were both stunned when they learned he'd take a serious demotion.  His craziness is still with him.

Like most other retail stores, ours has an excess of steel racking which we use to alter our constantly changing bays and end caps.  About 3 weeks ago the Assistant Manager looked at all that extra racking and decided we didn't need it and had it thrown away.  Thousands and thousands of $'s went into the dumpster.  Two weeks from now they're supposed to be doing our Spring reset - you know, grills, patio furniture.  However there's a bit of problem because the racking they were going to use was thrown away.  As soon as I heard about this "little issue," I knew they'd get rid of him.  They demoted him again and now, I suspect, are just waiting for him to understand his days with this retail store chain are numbered.  The thing about crazy is that so many people will over look it without realizing it's not going to go away.  And a lot of times crazy doesn't just sit their, it grows.  Already other instances are being reported.  In the end, there's going to be a crazy expense we're going to have to pay.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Mixed scheduling and straight candles

I have a mid-shift today, which doesn't bother me.  I don't mind closings, either.  What I do dislike more then anything is openings because I need to get up at 0330.  This is to insure I have several mugs of coffee before I get to the store.  You would think being a department manager would entitle be to a more set schedule, but it doesn't, and for me openings are the worst.  What's sad is I have two associates who would nothing better then to be schedule morning shifts... for ever.  They love them.  Both of them hate closings.  As a result I've been working to get some sort of stability in the scheduling process.  From what I understand, at some point in this year, we will be going to some sort of fixed schedules.  I can't wait.
Neither can the dogs.  The other morning I was sitting in the bedroom putting on my shoes when Lilly jumped onto the bed  It did not take long for Gertie show up at glare at her.  There is some jealousy between the two.

I showed this pic to some friends and one of them kindly remarked "your candles are crooked."  To which I replied, "they're straight enough for me."

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Post Office Failure

About a year and a half ago I received a letter in the mail regarding a Class Action law suit against International Paper, the company which had chosen to lay me off in order to outsource my job to Poland.  Evidently they were doing something funny with my 401K deductions, using them to earn interest instead of depositing them into my 401K account.  Anyway, I joined the suit thinking I'd never really see any financial result.  There is no way you can even begin to imagine my surprise last evening when I opened my mail and discovered a 1099-R for monies mailed to me as a result of the law suit.  Why was I so surprised?  I never received a check.
This morning I talked to the firm involved and learned that my check had been mailed out, but had been returned marked "undeliverable."  They are going to reissue, however because the legal disbursement date is 2014 it will effect the taxes for that year.  Because those taxes have already been filed I will need to file an amendment.  The firm also suggested I talk to the Post Office in an attempt to find out why the check was returned.

I was told by the Postal worker at my local Post Office "that's a carrier issue."  For reasons only the carrier knows this check, in an undamaged envelope, was stamped "undeliverable" and returned to the sender.  She apologized for the "inconvenience" amending my 2014 taxes was going to cause, all the while continuing to remind me that this was a "carrier issue."  And, of course, since the carrier working my route at the time the check was returned is no longer a carrier, there is no way they can find out why the check was returned.  In fact, there were a number of 'temporary carriers' delivering mail during the time the check was mailed.  Is it me, or is this one of the best definitions of FAILURE there is?  Is it any wonder so many people think the US Postal Service is outdated?

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Super Bowl = Retail Failure

Well, I get to work today and right now I'm going to make a prediction that sales are going to be pretty dismal.  Why?  Well, we have another snow system moving into the area.  Forecasts are for another 4 to 7 inches of snow.  Oh, and that snow is supposed to transition into freezing rain for a bit and then back to snow.  Weather wise, today is going to be a mess.  While there are some people who venture out in bad weather to shop, most stay home.  Oh, and there's one other thing.  Today is also Super Bowl Sunday.

True, you do have those none football fans who don't watch the game or go to a party, and normally they might decided to go shopping, however we have this bad weather coming into town.  For a couple of years they tried doing a Super Bowl Sunday shop-a-thon in an attempt to get people into the stores, but it was never too successful.  As a result, most of the associates scheduled today will stand around twiddling their thumbs.  Total sales will most likely be equal those we get on New Year's Day.  Unless you're in the food business, or booze business, Super Bowl Sunday is traditionally a bad day for cash registers.