Jason's BLOG pages



Jason Grose's BLOG

September 2002




What's a blog, you ask? It stands for "weblog" and it's basically an online journal of daily thought. We'll see how long I can keep this up (as though I don't have enough to do!)

If you must have a title, I'll go with: The daily thoughts/rants of a Marine Officer, father, scholar, husband, marathon runner, Flash cartoonist, computer nerd.

Monday, 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 commenced.

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.

Sunday, 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 wake up.

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 MARATHONS).

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 fastest. Amazing.

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 MTV Awards.

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 the trails.

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.

Friday, 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 it goes.

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 this experiment.

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 out.

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 well.

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.

Email -- jason@grose.us
Web -- http://www.grose.us/