Tuesday, March 20, 2012

And The Beat Goes On.. And On... And On

Dear fellow roast beef lovers,

It is with heavy eyes and tender, swollen, sanded-down-to-nothing finger nubs that I write to you today. Finger nubs that have spent countless hours getting Bloomy1 ready for her paint job. Just how massive is this project, you might ask? Well… let me tell you a story. A story about love, loss, and misunderstanding.

The Story of Love, Loss and Misunderstanding
Once upon a time, otherwise known as two Fridays ago, the Rhino and I woke up with excitement in our hearts. The day had finally arrived when we could pick up Bloomy1 from Chameleon Concessions and bring it up to Big Lake to prep and paint it for its big debut! Since Bloomy1 had been fully wrapped with a vinyl decal (thanks a lot Frito Lay for ruining my life!) and rolled (rather crappily, I might add) with white housepaint, we knew it was going to be a lot of work. About $10,000 worth of work, according to a local auto body pal. Good thing we* had planned out a strategy in extensive detail beforehand!
*My part of this strategy was to listen to the Rhino’s plan and respond enthusiastically.  

The Plan
1.    The Rhino began the planning process by researching numerous kinds of paint thinner with the idea that we could use the most slamazing paint thinner in the world to cut through the paint and decal. Pros: he found the best paint thinner ever! Cons: No one would ship it to us because it’s considered super intense hazardous material. Yikes! Never fear though! See #2 for proof of the Rhino's adaptability skills.
2.      As proof of his adaptability skills, Rhino discovered another paint thinner with the same active ingredients sold at our local True Value hardware store. Nice recovery. High five!
3.    We figured if the paint thinner didn’t fully work, we’d just sand the truck down to its aluminum using our handy drill sanders. Good plan!

Feeling quite accomplished, we packed up the Jeep with sanders, scrapers, and paint thinner before heading to Chameleon to pick up Bloomy1. I was so excited that I kept babbling about how awesomesauce it would be to do some physical Bloomy’s work instead of sitting at a desk all the time. Think of all the calories I would burn! And the toned arms I would get! <Insert multiple Rhino eye rolls here.>

Well… when we got to the truck, we realized pretty quickly that it wouldn’t start. I will remember the sad final whimpers of that nearly dead battery forever. And when it died, I was happy when I realized that the Rhino had jumper cables in the back! Until I was informed that the Rhino had recently taken them out and replaced them with a tow rope. LIKE ANYONE EVER NEEDS A TOW ROPE!* Anyway, so we drove back home, grabbed the cables, and headed back to Bloomy1 for take 2. The jump got her ticker beating again and off we went! As it was dark, late and freezing by the time we got to Big Lake, we decided to hit the hay and get an early start on Saturday. We went to sleep with smiles on our faces, me dreaming about muscle definition and the Rhino about more practical things I’m sure. Then came Saturday.
*Don’t worry. I only said this part in my head.

Saturday a.k.a. “Day of Trial, Error, and General Awfulness.”
Rhino & I woke up early, put on our painting outfits*, and headed out to the shop.  What follows is a super accurate timeline of how this day went.
*I guess only I call it a ‘painting outfit’ and everyone else calls them ‘painting clothes,’ whatever.

8:30am – We excitedly put on our hazardous-paint-thinner-avoider-gear which included safety goggles, a respirator with pink filters, and heavy duty impermeable work gloves. Work gloves that were the same size as the one Rhino’s dad wore, which means they were about 1,000x too big for my hands.* Anyway. Rhino got out the paint thinner and the paint brush and I got out the plastic scraper. Ready, begin!
*Apparently, no store in the world makes heavy duty impermeable work gloves in child size.

10:00am – We realized the Bloomy1 vinyl decal was not only covering a layer of superpowered epoxy paint, but also came complete with NASA strength permanent adhesive that even highly toxic paint thinner wouldn’t cut through.

10:15am – We’re staring at a truck that now has sticky gobs of glue stuck all over it. I feel whack attack #1 coming on but sufficiently stuff it back down* so it can fester into a huge stress ball in my belly.
*Because I promised the Rhino I would do my best not to whack out until further notice.

11:30am – After testing several glue removal techniques, including but not limited to: lacquer thinner, wax & dirt remover, rubbing it with our gloved fingers (FYI – all this does is roll the glue from one section to another) and sanding with our drills, we realized that sanding with our drills was the only thing in the world that worked to successfully remove the demon globs. We decided to go gung ho and sand all the glue away forever! But first, a lunch break.

12:30pm – Back in action, we get out our sanding drills and get to work! This is sure to be successful!

3:30pm – The only successful thing we have done is successfully break two drills trying to sand through to the aluminum.

3:45pm - Realized that it would take us pretty much the whole rest of the year to sand the entire truck down to its base. Good thing we have to launch in five weeks! The huge stress ball continues to grow. It has now spread from my belly to my sternum.

4:00pm – I stared at the truck and realized for the first time the exact enormity of what we’ve gotten ourselves into. In case you’re wondering, this enormity is called a truck the size of Rhode Island that, after most of a day with three people working on it, had 1/4 of one side sanded and was covered in glue gobs. The stress ball is now up to my throat and makes me swallow every five seconds.

5:00pm - Realized that our only true option to ensure that we’ll launch on time is to sand the top layer of the truck (yes, that crappy housepaint), prime, sand again, paint, and cross our fingers that the paint wouldn’t cause the decal to lift up and crack everything to bits.

5:30pm - Went inside, ate dinner, and passed out.

Sunday a.k.a. “The Slightly Better Day When We Make Minor Headway”
When I woke up, the clock read 7:15am. I was excited because it was Daylight Savings time and you know what that means! It’s actually only 6:15am! Except in the spring, when you lose an hour and realize that it’s already 8:15am. Shoot! Gut check confirms that the stress ball is still intact.

8:30am – 5:00pm – We sand, sand, and sand. Then we sand. Then we sand and sand again. Oh, what is this over here? More sanding. We sanded through our gloves and the top layer of our skin. We sanded until our arms wouldn’t work anymore and our eyes wouldn’t stay open. Then, we sanded some more. We sanded around thousands of rivets and through glob after glob of ridiculously annoying house paint. What did we do then? You guessed it. We sanded.

Then, we ate dinner, went home and got ready for work the next day.

So this quickly became our new routine: Get up, go to work, come home, grab a sandwich, and eat dinner in the car on the way up to Big Lake. Sand, sand, sand* until we couldn’t sand anymore before driving home and collapsing into bed.
*On the plus side, the Rhino & I have successfully achieved the pale, powdered look of the olden days with the help of a thin coating of white paint dust that we can’t seem to ever quite remove completely. Talk about attractive.

I can honestly say that neither the Rhino nor I have worked this hard before in the history of our lives. And the worst thing was that, after all that time and work, the end wasn’t even in sight. Not even a little bit.

So around comes Friday, the night we had designated as our night off. We were nearly done with sanding (freaking finally!) and ready to move on to the priming/painting/praying the decal wouldn’t lift off stage. Our brains were fried, our bodies were mush (but oh so toned!), and our spirits were hovering just slightly over “dangerously low.” We needed a night off in a big way. As I sat at work on Friday afternoon, I dreamed of all the wonderful things we could do – like sit down, watch some tv…maybe eat a non-multitasking dinner. Then I realized that there were at least 10 things I needed to do that night just to keep us on our timeline. Then, I freaked.*
*Freaked (v): a more intense version of a whack attack. 

This freak resulted in a panicked phone call to one of two people in this world who could calm me down. One of them* was already overextended, so I called the slightly less extended one (barely): my sweet and practical dad. The same guy who, when he answered my call with a jolly laugh and an innocent “how’s the truck?,” was greeted with sobs from his eldest child and a barely coherent “I’m in over my head! What do I dooooooooo… booo hoo…”
*The Rhino, in case you were wondering. And I'd already promised him that I wouldn’t whack out… in front of him. (I added that last bit myself)

After giving me a reassuring attitude readjustment and a virtual hug, my pa sent me on my way. At the same time (approx.), the Rhino sent me an e-mail letting me off the truck work hook for the weekend! Not because he thought my mechanical skills were subpar*, but because it didn’t take three people to prime a truck (unless one of said people wished to simply stand and watch the stuff dry). So I stayed behind and completed nearly 20 to-do list items over the weekend while the Rhino and his dad completed numerous feats on Bloomy1. These feats included the majestic achievement of purchasing test paint and applying it in a way (slowly and with fingers double crossed) that would not cause the decal to lift and crack. And it worked!
*This is probably the real reason.

Now, we are so proud to tell you that the end of this project is finally in sight! The truck is sanded to perfection, the hub caps are no longer trusty rusty circle eye sores, the bumper is shiny (well, as shiny as we could get it), the grill is fixed, and the rivets can kiss my butt. And, we saved about $9,500. All that’s left is painting and decorating with our logo! At the same time, we’re still on track - despite our recent hurdle(s) - and our spirits are once again hovering just above “infinity high.”

In case you were wondering where the Love, Loss and Misunderstanding went, here’s a quick explanation:

The Rhino & I made it through this ridiculousness (so far) with our relationship intact (Love).

We broke two drills and disposed of about 1,000 sanding pads and several pairs of gloves (Loss). I also nearly lost my mind. (Loss).

Our excitement around working on the BEST PROJECT EVER was quickly replaced with the harsh reality that we novices had no freaking idea how much work this would actually be (utter Misunderstanding).

So there you have it. One month until launch and we’re still hanging in there… barely. But it will all be worth it when we serve our very first mouth watering roast beef sandwich. Dibs!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Can You Step Into My Office?

The Rhino and I are proud to present the following fantastic news:

After hundreds of resumes, 15ish (or I lost count how many) phone interviews, and three slamazing final candidates, we are excited to share that we have officially hired our Food Truck Manager! Please welcome Mr. Bridger, our new Food Truck Manager, to the Bloomy’s food family! Stay tuned for Bridger's exciting photo op introduction. I could have pulled a photo off of Facebook but stopped myself because 1) that might be weird and slightly stalkerish and 2) I'm not quite sure of the Facebook laws regarding photo borrowing*.
* By borrowing, I mean taking and claiming as my own.

Anyway, not only is Bridger 150% awesomesauce, but he has loads of experience in the food industry and is a whiz with social media. He also has a really shiny grill (like a grill where you grill meat and kabobs, not a Lil’John-style mouth grill.). In addition, he has created numerous mouth watering culinary masterpieces that I will be showcasing in our very next blog!

Bridger is so bomb that he already met the Rhino at Chameleon Concessions last week to do the final walk through of Bloomy1 and made lots of helpful suggestions including the most helpful suggestion of all: how to fit a third seat in the truck! This means that we can drive around town with three people in the truck instead of two! Way to go Bridger! Mission accomplished and you haven’t even technically started working yet. A+++. Would hire again! This exciting news also means that we get to install a jump seat in the truck!  A jump seat! I've always* wanted one of those and now I can have one! Thank you Bloomy's for making all of my dreams come true. 
* Ever since last week when I learned about it.

In other news, the Rhino has informed me that we need to begin referring to our home office as “HQ” from this moment forward. So whenever I say “HQ,” you will know that I’m talking about our office where the Rhino has a big nice roomy workspace that takes up half the room and I have this:

Yes, this is where I work.
Now, you could be thinking – is that a super tiny desk located in the closet? Complete with a glass of wine and a book as a mousepad? In the closet? Why yes. Yes it is. It’s called compromise people, and an ability to fit well into small spaces. Although the Rhino does let me put dibs on his roomy workspace approximately 4x per week. Or 0x if I’m “being a fuddy-duddy*.”
* The Rhino’s description of me when I’m being mean and narrowing my eyes at things. For those of you who are thinking “I thought the phrase fuddy-duddy retired back in 1957?”, you are correct. 

The nice thing about owning a company such as Bloomy’s is that you can pretty much call things whatever you please, because you're the boss of everything! You can even pick your own job title. For example, my job title is Chief Executive Officer because I’m the one who does all the filing of important documents and the Rhino is the Chief Operating Officer because he’s the one who does all the reports and check writing. However, the Rhino has decided to change his job title from COO to the more intriguing and FBI/Undercover Agent title of “Chief of Operational Intelligence.” So now when people ask me what my fiancé does for a living, I can say, “Well he is a Chief of Operational Intelligence (obvi, I leave out the part where he works at this job for free).” Then the person who asked says “Wow, that sounds like a really cool job.” And I say, “It IS a really cool job! I mean, he doesn’t carry a 14K gold badge or have access to top secret classified information. But it’s still pretty sweet.”*
* This conversation only happens in my imagination.

(Warning, major sidetrack about to happen here).

My spell checker function just informed me of the appropriate spelling for the word “fiancé.” Apparently, I’ve been e-introducing people to the Rhino as “My Finance.” Oops. Although you could argue that "My Finance" is still accurate. Ooooh. Just kidding! Calm down people. I pay my own bills, on time.

Anyway, before we move on to business updates, which is what this blog is supposed to be about but isn’t most of the time, I want to give one exciting personal update. I CAN EAT FOOD AGAIN! After my 25 day Clean Program, during which I did not cheat ONE time but during which I complained approximately 100% of the time, the Rhino and I celebrated my return to regular food with this:


Yes, my friends. This is a picture of the TWO chicken-topped beer cans who were hanging out in our oven for awhile. One lemon garlic and one smoky BBQ. Mmm, delicious.

Our friend Elliot over at Sysco had impeccable timing as usual (except for the bacon incident) and also dropped off this:

Potatoes and veggies and more veggies!

And this:

The apple is there for perspective, obvi.

Now that’s a lot of Ghirardelli brownie mix! Am I in heaven? Yes. Will I curse the belly ache I'll have after eating this box of brownies? Definitely.*
* Not a deterrent, at all.  Bring it on.

Even though I've since convinced two other people to try the Clean Program, I cannot tell you how ready I was to rejoin the rest of food-eating society. The worst thing was sitting down to lunch with the Rhino, drooling over his beef brisket, frowning over my nasty butternut squash soup, and having super duper lame table conversations such as this.

The Rhino: “How’s your soup?”
KJ: “Eh.
Rhino: “You know, you can put some sea salt in there.”
KJ: “Why? So it can bring out the assy flavors even more?”

Now, we don’t even have conversations at the table anymore because I’m too busy stuffing my face with things like this!

Soon to be stir fry. Soon to be gobbled up by yours truly.

Ok, now it’s time for the business updates. And here they are, in no particular order of importance.

1) The party planning is well underway for our sponsor/launch celebration, which is officially scheduled for April 21!  That is less than two months away! Yikes*. JamieD, Chickie, and I have come up with an great list of sponsor party ideas that I can't share seeing as they are surprises. But the surprises are aplenty, and they are going to be slamazing.
* I mean Yikes in a good way. I'm not freaking out or anything. Maybe a little bit. Ok, whatever. I'm seriously freaking out!!

2) The Rhino is busy toiling away on creating our master SOP document that we have to submit to the city inspectors to get our official "ready for business" stamps of approval. In times like these, I'm glad the Rhino is the COI, which could easily stand for "Chief of mucho boring things like SOPs."

3) While the Rhino is working away on the above, I have been beating my brains out trying to learn the fine art of web development. Little did I realize that this would also require learning a completely new and foreign language better known as HTML and CSS. This adult language learning requirement has caused a few* whack attacks and many "fuddy duddy" moments that have resulted in the Rhino kicking me out of HQ. Good thing dumbed-down video tutorials and I have become BFFs. Go social sharing!
* Like... eleven. At least.

4) After a bit of equipment rearranging to better fit our wicked jump seat, Mark at Chameleon is putting the finishing touches on Bloomy1. I can't wait to take her up to Papa Bloomy's and get my mechanical skills* groove on!
* I have no mechanical skills. Wait - is sanding and painting even considered a mechanical skill? Let's pretend it is, and that I'm really good at it.

5) I'm trying not to think about the line cooks and cashiers we still have to hire and the companies we have to call and the stops we have to set up. <Heavy sigh.> This is why 4:30am and I have become such good friends lately.  

But, we're nearly to the finish line everyone. The hard part is ... well, just beginning actually. Dang it! I have to go care for my poor Rhino now, who is down for the count with a head cold the size of Massachusetts. Catch y'all on the flip side!