September 30, 2002
I just talked to my mentor, Shane Maxey,
who will be retiring after 23 years in the service. He was the
man who took me to the Gulf War and, as promised, brought me
home. He forced the issue when he learned I was thinking about
becoming an Officer, kicked me in the butt when I wavered about
putting my commissioning package in and was actually the one
who finished up the final details, actually submitting it while
I was overseas. He took care of me when I was a young, dumb
junior enlisted Marine and as a DI, is personally responsible
for hundreds of success stories across the Corps and America
today. He took care of my children as though they were his own
and watched over my family when I was deployed. He yelled at
me very loudly when I needed it and invited me over for BBQ
in the next breath. He taught me how to be tough as nails on
the outside while still being soft-hearted at home. He showed
me itís honorable and noble to be a family man even if it means
cleaning toilets for your family, taking on a job at a pizza
place for extra cash, or just putting your faith in God. He
showed me that love for your wife and fidelity to your marriage
is stronger than lust and what it means to be a father, husband,
and Marine. He is infinitely more Marine than I ever hope to
be and I quantify and qualify my success, personally and professionally,
on how it compares to him.
After a little over a dozen years in the Corps, he was
a victim of the post-war draw down. The Army was smart enough
to snatch him up as a recruiter where he continued to turn
sometimes wayward youths into successful citizen soldiers
for the National Guard. Following his calling to teach, he
took advantage of educational programs and went back to school
which shows me you are never too old or set in your ways to
improve yourself even if it means sacrifice of energy, time,
and sometimes sanity.
He suffers from a mysterious disease he was unfortunate
enough to contract while in the Gulf but presses forward in
life. Likely eligible for almost 100% disability, he leaves
the military after 23 years; a place heís known since he was
17 and for all of this, a man of this caliber is sent away
with a medal brought to him by his neighbor in a guard mail
envelope. No reading aloud in front of his men, no ceremony.
I find this utterly criminal. If this is the way the National
Guard ushers people out the door, I have but one choice in
the matter. They are going to get a taste of what one Marine
can do and hopefully by example, they will see how you are
SUPPOSED to honor a hero. Operation Red Dog has officially
On a break between classes so Iíll shoot off a quick blog.
It seems my food orgy this weekend in preparation for
my diet got a little out of control to the tune of 199 pounds,
thus marking the heaviest Iíve ever weighed in my life. I
told my wife she can now start referring to me as ďFat Bastard.Ē
But, thatís what diets are for and the run didnít seem to
suffer this morning. I think Iím mentally ready for the diet
and am glad to get going. Just the knowledge of being this
heavy makes me depressed.
Had bacon and eggs for breakfast (gotta love the Atkins
Diet) and then promptly forgot my lunch. Oh well, Iíll get
it when I get home but not an auspicious start to a diet that
will soon cause pain and suffering. Good thing the first day
is relatively easy.
My first class was software design and the only thing
of note was the normal wailing and gnashing of teeth at the
Friday class that the class attempted to move. They did the
normal passing around of a blank schedule and had everyone
X out the times they couldnít make. I was the last one to
get it and, as expected, there were more Xís on the sheet
than you could swing a dead cat at (yes, a bad combination
of sayings but the concept of swinging a dead cat just makes
me laugh). So it looks like the Friday class stays which is
OK with me. Iíd just piss the day away otherwise.
My second class was a C++ programming class which is taught
by a professor I had for my first hacking class. He is high
energy, funny, knowledgeable, and accommodating. In other
words, a freak professor here at NPS. The class looks to be
one of those rare beasts that is a lot of work but thoroughly
enjoyable and educational.
September 29, 2002
Whatís up tomorrow: I start a new quarter of my masterís degree.
I am taking C++ Programming, Military Satellite Communications,
Software Engineering and Management, Economic Evaluation of
Information Systems II, and theses classes. My first class isnít
until 1000 so I will get up at 0700, run, get ready, and get
into school by 0900. This gives me an hour to read email and
I also start the Atkins Diet. I have a weigh in in 11
days and Iím right at my max weight. But the bigger motivation
is that I am going to begin training for my ďtriple threatĒ
this summer. I do the Big Sur Marathon, the Lone Pine Marathon
a week later, and a 50 miler two weeks after that (See MY
So to start the training, I try to cut my weight down
to 175 and train at that weight. So starting tomorrow, I start
shedding 20 pounds to get ready for the process. I will lose
about half of it within two weeks and then the training will
take care of the rest. I know, sounds drastic but at 33, the
battle of the bulge and a sedentary academic schedule calls
for desperate measures. This weekend was my last food party
for awhile before the dieting begins. Carbo-craving and mood
swings, here I come!!!
Feel good section: even though Iím a moody, short tempered,
prone to frustrated outbursts, demanding, and often slicing
toned barker, my family still loves me. I took my family on
a trip theyíll never forget (for better or worse) and the kids
got to do things I never got a chance to do as a kid. They were
the one shining point in an altogether mediocre weekend.
I was on my morning run on Saturday in Yosemite when I came
across a deer. It was a 6-point buck who was obviously very
tame since there were about 5 or 6 people sitting there looking
at it. It came right up to me as I stood there and wondered
what I would do if it attacked me (I came to the conclusion
Iíd provide a great story for 5 other people about how some
deer kicked the piss out of a jogging Marine). But the beauty
of the moment was not lost on me completely. I watched as he
ate some nuts (get your mind out of the gutter) and I realized
this was the closest I had ever come to one and likely the closest
any of the others had come. As I was absorbing this truly spectacular
example of wild nature up close, the moment was shattered when
Bubba the Gapped Tooth Half Wit exclaims ďWish I had my gun.
Bang. Huh huh, huh.Ē Out of a million sperm, that guy swam the
Dammit, I got poison oak on my leg and arm. Last time I was
home (Oklahoma), my mom gave me some oatmeal treatment packs
and a small sheet of soft cloth. She tells me to cut them into
strips and soak them. I tried it and hopefully it works. Iíve
been battling this stuff for a year now (off and on, well, Iíll
assume you knew that). So I laid on my bed and applied them
(thin excuse to lay on my bed in the middle of the day) and
watched a rerun of Jimmy Fallon making fun of everyone on the
Interesting fact 3: My wife informs me that itís ďcow pattiesĒ
and ďhorse apples.Ē Itís all just s#%t to me.
Interesting fact 2: Horses crap a lot. We were on a trail (which
we dubbed ďHorse Crap Trail) that is obviously a laxative for
horses. The only thing I can figure is that the descent was
so surprising for equestrians that horse apples just cam flying
out of their horse asses. Maybe the butthole park rangers could
spend a little less time telling me my food should be put away
and a little more time hauling the horse crap off of the trails.
My, isnít that a fitting task.
Interesting fact: the Yosemite gorge was once just a big plain
with the Merced river cutting a small canyon. Then a couple
of glaciers came in and said, ďLetís just plow through here
and cut the hell out of this place.Ē So thatís what they did
and then when they finally got tired, you had a big canyon filled
with ice and sand. So the ice melts and the canyon is pretty
much filled with the sand. As the sand washes away, the hard
rocks are left and you get these beautiful sheer walls and places
where the hard rock juts up as the soft sand is washed away.
I probably hosed up the details of what happened but thatís
all I could gleen from the little metal info booths along
Back from Yosemite. Overall,
a check in the box as far as ďBeen there, seen it.Ē There were
some spectacular views, and I mean REAL spectacular but to tell
the truth, camping is just like playing homeless. Iím a Marine
and itís too much like being in the field. The other thing that
keeps popping in my head is that I pay a lot of money to have
a nice, warm, clean, quiet, dry bed in a safe house. Why am
I traveling for 5 hours to set up a weak facsimile of one and
sleep in a tent in the middle of a campground?
Maybe some of it was that the whole camping thing has
become too commercialized. I mean there were all these rules
and regulations and then you had these Nazi park rangers whose
authority came from the fact that your were in their park.
Anywhere else and I would have told them where to stick their
Smokey. Pay $20 to get in and $30 a night to camp. No fires
before 5:00 PM or after midnight. Quiet hours (shut the hell
up) after 10:00. You canít park your truck there, you must
move it 5 feet that way. Put away that food in the steel container
even if you are right there. No pets on any trail except the
paved ones. We have a kennel but you must have all your dogís
records with you. Oh, and it will cost of course. And these
are only a small example of the rule book they give you on
the way in. And the final kicker on the way out was that we
had to show our pass as we left. We, of course, threw ours
away when we were making the campground as clean as the Popeís
toilet so what do we get when we pass the gate on the way
out? ďNext time put it in your glove box.Ē Like thereíll be
a next time. Yosemite: kiss my ass.
The other thing that ruined it for me was the sheer volume
of people. I want to go somewhere where not the average person
can get to or it takes some work to get there. The concept
of ďroughing itĒ sort of falls apart like toilet paper in
the rain when you see an old lady dressed up in dress clothes,
hoop ear rings, high heels, and make-up walking around in
a spot you spent an hour hiking to (there was a ďbusĒ option,
if youíre wondering). And many places, it looked like a street
on New York. You know, the ones where you see all the peopleís
heads and it just looks like a sea of people? That is what
it was like. Yeah, back to the wild.
Oh, and it rained on us. Nothing anyone could do, just
bad luck but tends to put a damper on moods. No more dealing
with dust, now itís dampness and mud. Whoopee!!
OK, as you can tell, I was a putz on the second half of
the trip after all this really started getting to me. It started
when we couldnít get the fire started well enough to cook
the burgers. We created a lot of smoke so if you need a smoke
maker, Iím your man. Iím surprised the rangers didnít come
and comment. So I was dirty, tired, and moody for the last
half. My poor wife.
September 27, 2002
OK, here I go with my first post. Might be a little verbose
but oh well.
This Blog thing: well, it's kind of neat but I can't help
but think there's an easier way since it's simply posting
thought to a web. What advantage does it have over just updating
an HTML file and then FTPing it like I do all my other pages?
It seems to me that it's just a novelty to use this but it
puts access of my files and the ability to post to my page
in the hands of people I don't know. Plus, there's no spell
checker (I'm a horrible speller) unless you upgrade to the
version you have to pay for. But it's free and I guess I can
update my posts via the web anywhere I want. I'll see how
I've seen some blogs that have feedback forms for particular
posts. Again, the easier way seems to just expect people to
email me with anything they want to say about what I write
(notice I'm assuming someone is going to be interested enough
to read and reply ). If no one reads this, it's as good
way to throw my thought down.
Oh, and what happens if something goes haywire and Blogger
goes under? I guess I do archive to my own server so I wouldn't
lose it but again, it seems that if I controlled the updating
and posting via a simple HTML page, I wouldn't have to worry
about it. The only thing I see is the ability to post from
anywhere on the net and for now, that's enough to continue
As far as the spelling, I will probably cut and paste
this into Word, spell check it, fix it, and cut/paste back
into this window (the drawbacks of perfectionism!)
It occurs to me that this is much like writing email to
no one. But not too personal since it's a public forum. Maybe
I can get my thoughts down here and then use it to cut and
paste portions into email. Have you ever written a long email
and then start another to someone else just to realize you
are writing the same thing? Or worse yet, you kill the second
email because you don't want to go through that again. Sometimes
I just go to the "sent mail" and copy and paste, changing
the obvious personal references. Does that make me a bad person?
There have even been times that I thought about how the two
people I'm writing know each other and if I could get caught
if they somehow compare. I don't know how that could happen
unless they forward it to the other person and then they realize
(extremely unlikely but potentially embarrassing).
Well, that's my ramble section.
What about sections to my Blog? Maybe the following:
Ramble: like above and includes the day's events
Rant: just me bitching about something
Funny: humor is everywhere in life
Interesting thing I learned today: hopefully I can come up
with something each day
Motivation or feel good: counterbalances the Rant section.
What's Up tomorrow: not much to explain for that one
Ok let me try and then I'll go to bed:
Ramble: already did
Rant: My kidsí school cut out PE teachers, librarians,
teachersí aides, music teachers, art teachers, computer lab
administrators, playground attendants, lunchroom attendants
and others. Basically, everyone but the actual teachers who
are now expected to pick up the load and do all those roles
along with their normal duties. Before, the teacherís used
the times like PE to catch up on their lessons, grade papers,
prepare activities, etc. Now, they are lucky to find time
to go to the bathroom and if they donít know how to do something,
they either donít do it or do it poorly without proper training.
Things like PE: when I volunteered, it was basically a bunch
of old ladies trying to do the best they could with calisthenics,
running in place, etc. It was sad but I was glad I could help
out. Problem is, my schedule for next quarter prohibits me
from doing it. It broke my heart to tell the kids but Iíll
try to work something out.
But that is a band aid on a gaping wound. Why would they
cut all of these things? Itís not the teachersí fault, their
victimized by it just like the kids. I need to pitch a fit
about it but where to start. I guess the best I can do for
now is to spend more time with my own kids and make sure they
are not getting short changed and try to volunteer to help
Funny: My wife called up the tire place where we dropped
off our rim to have a tire put on. I had blown it out and
it was shredded and since we are going camping this weekend
in Yosemite, she wanted it fixed as a spare. She had dropped
it off yesterday and they promised her they would have it
in the next day (today). When she called, they started giving
her the runaround noting that they never order anything without
payment and she sternly explained to them how they had told
her that she wouldnít have to pay until it got in. The conversation
got rather heated because they were busy trying to explain
their business processes while all she wanted was our freakiní
tire. This went on until she finally exclaimed that she was
coming down, getting our rim, and taking it elsewhere where
we would get better service. It was at this point that the
discovery was made that she had called the wrong tire place.
Her response: oh, sorry.
Their likely response: dumb bitch.
Interesting thing I learned today: A polyglot is a person
who knows many languages. I know English and not all that
Motivation or feel good: The kids and my daughterís school
really dig me running their PE sessions one day a week since
the school cut many of the periphery teachers. (See rant above)
I go to my sonís 5th grade once a week and my daughterís 3rd
grade once a week. As Iím told by the teachers and many of
the kids, itís the highlight of their week. If anyone asks
me how I find the time, my explanation is summed up by the
hugs I get when I show up.
What's Up tomorrow: Getting up, running, and getting on
the road to Yosimite. Looks like I will not be Blogging for
a couple of days.