Jason's BLOG pages



Jason Grose's BLOG

November 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.

Wednesday, November 27, 2002
The third and final piss-off in last Saturday’s paper:

(Warning: this rant is a serious case of me being that old man chasing away the neighborhood kids from his front yard.)

Headline: “Alisal Students Protest”

The gist of this little feel-good story is that these students walked out of class when they were supposed to be taking a standardized math test, all in protest of these tests. Additionally, it was led by an ex-teacher who resigned over this very controversy.

My angle: you little punk bastards! First of all, most of you little heathens took the opportunity to just get out of school early, evident by the fact that you had to ask what you were protesting once you got out in the street. Secondly, most of you wandered off after a half hour, probably to smoke some reefer and listen to songs of how society is giving it to you prison-style. (note serious old-man tone).

Let’s talk a bit about authority. You are NOT in charge! You will get your chance when (if) you graduate and choose to spend your life guiding the next generation. Guess what, punk, those teachers are the one’s that care. They care enough to spend their days dealing with you little ingrates, risking life, limb, sanity, all while being paid just about the least amount possible! You think they do it just to make your teen years harder than they already are? Come out to the real world where we don’t care as much as your teachers and come empty my trash. Come mow my yard and landscape for minimum wage. Come serve me fast food, wash my car, and all those other shitty little jobs no one want to do but must do.

The tests are benchmarks to help guide the curriculum and lets the teachers know where you are and what they need to focus on in order for you to pass the state mandated tests. In other words, they are for YOUR benefit! I’ll concede that there are a few kinks in the hose of California Public Schools but don’t try to claim that the tests are somehow taking away from the subjects you should be learning. Not only is school about leaning the three R’s but what about respect, authority, academic behavior, and followership?

I’m not advocating wholesale, blind, unquestioned obedience. You will get your turn and without an education, you will be ill-equipped to make the changes you THINK are necessary now from your uninformed point of view.

Get back in school, shut your obnoxious faces, and get out of it what you need and what they provide: an elementary understanding of a range of subjects and a preview of human interaction in today’s world.

If not, make sure you super-size my order.

Second story that really pissed me off last Saturday:

Two Marines at the Defense Language Institute (DLI) attacked a pedestrian one night some time ago. One held her from behind while the other stabbed her 15 times. She survived somehow and the Marines were caught, tried, convicted, and sentenced to life in prison. It seems that one of them was well on his way to become a self-taught bicoastal serial killer. Obviously a bad dude and it’s a good thing that he was put away forever.


Guess what… the parents of the girl is suing the Marine Corps and DLI, the Presidio of Monterey, and the Department of Defense. I’m not going to attempt to justify what happened nor belittle the vicious attack but come on. It happened, it was horrible, they caught the nutballs, and they were tried and convicted. They are being punished and that should be the end of the legal involvements of this sad event.

On top of being another stupid lawsuit that smacks of $$$ (to the tune of $100 million), the basis is what really miffs me. The lawyer claims that DLI should have done better screening for students and that they need to clean up their act up at DLI. They claim we are training killers up there and training them to kill civilians.

With 175,000 Marines at any given time, all of which are drawn out of our society, there are going to be some aberrant bastards no matter how much training they get. When we make Marines, the vast majority of them internalize the transformation and become what they are intended to become: fighting warriors and model citizens. Do they all make it? No. Do a very small number slip through and get in a position to do such damage? Yes. Is it a result of Marine training? Absolutely not. In fact, it’s in despite of it and a person who can make it through the training and screening and still maintain such devious preoccupations shows how deeply engrained the abnormalities they hide.

These two Marines were sick. We claim them because they are our brothers and we do not forsake our brothers. But like a family member who has done something horrible, we still hate what they did and have done what is just. These two will spend their days locked up until they are old men. We failed to get deep enough inside them to change them. Therefore we take the responsibility and locked them away.

But to sue us for their acts is wrong. They still have free will. They ignored their training and what was instilled in them and did a terrible crime. We did not train them to kill civilians. We did not encourage them to stalk Americans. This they did on their own and will pay for their actions. But for the parents to blame the Marine Corps, DLI, or any other government agency for the reasons they state is silly. Do you sue IBM if one of their employees hurts someone?

Justice was served.

Oh, the shame of BLOGlessness. Yep, been busy.

I read 3 stories in last Saturday’s paper that made my blood boil. Allow me to go right the *$#{*^% off:

It seems some people in New York are, get this, suing McDonalds on the grounds that Big Macs made their kids fat. WHHHHHAT? They claim that the fast food chain has created a national epidemic of obese children. I repeat: WHHHHHAT?!!?

Hark, the wake up call: no, Micky D did not create your little butterball. Maybe it was allowing them to two-fist Ho-Ho’s and drink Yahoo like water. Who’s fault is it? No, try again, Brain-dead-One, not the Clown. It’s you, you colossal moron!!! Kids are kids. They are like dogs in that they will eat everything until their little guts explode. It’s up to hmmmm, who could intervene here… oh, yeah YOU. Gee, what a revelation: YOU need to teach self-control and basic eating habits. Or maybe just let the little food blisters expand to dangerous proportions and then sue the fat pushers. That’s the American way, right?

It occurs to me that Blobby the Beach Ball With Lips didn’t waddle up to the McD’s counter unchecked all these years. Who would give them the money and most likely DRIVE them to the local golden arches?

The article states that the lawyer prosecuting this believes the high fat, sugar, and cholesterol content of McDonald’s food is “a very insipid, toxic kind of thing.”

DUH! And guess what, pizza isn’t slimming, either (pause while audience gasps…)

First, is this a news flash to anyone? McDonalds’ food not the healthiest choice? Good grief, if you don’t know that it’s bad for you, you are too stupid to convert oxygen to carbon dioxide!! Or, you may be an ignorant child who must depend on the good judgment of his or her parents for such choices. So this brings us back to the real idiots in this case.

Second, do you really want a lawyer whose years of debate training spits out the word “thing” to describe a concept? Did this guy just read the Cliff Notes for “Lawyering For Dummies”?

To me, the scariest thing about this is not that it came to be (although that’s pretty scary itself) but that they could possibly win. It’s sad but if someone told me “yeah, the lawyers made a compelling case and the judge sided with them to send a message to the fast food industry,” I wouldn’t be shocked at all. It seems outrageous but the miscarriages of justice are all too prevalent and that's why these cases keep popping up.

The layers will get richer as will the fat kids whose parents will now have more cash to give to their Augustus Gloops who will in turn go right back to McDonald’s and get that extra Big Mac. You go, Fat Boy!!!

Thursday, November 21, 2002
OK, I said I stayed up until 0100 and paid dearly. My running streak is going strong since Novemeber 4th so getting up at 0630 to run is a foregone conclusion. It was a bit tough since I gotten used to at least 7 hours of sleep (oh how slothly I have become. Five hours used to be the norm and six was bliss).

When I got up and checked my school email, I discover to my horror an email from a fellow team member from one of my classes asking if I was ready to present today.

Let me set the stage here. The deal was that we were assigned to make a 15 minute presentation as a hypothetical hosting service provider to a large company who were looking to invest in a major IT infrastructure upgrade. Ok, fair enough but I was under the impression (up to the point that I shat my underwear this morning reading the email) that the presentation was NEXT WEEK. To make matters worse, we had NOT MET ONCE as a group to discuss the presentation. We had conflicting schedules so the other two made up the slides and I agreed to present since I had done nothing else. I figured I had another week to throw it together, meet, and polish the presentation. Instead, I discover I have 6 hours to produce a miracle.

Never was there a doubt that the run was still on. In fact, I know that I’m addicted since my first thought was that the run was even more necessary to calm me down, wake me up, and shake some ideas loose. So I took a three miler and left the headphones at home. When I got home, I had some embryonic ideas floating around and wrote some notes. I got ready and headed for school, all but forgetting I had enjoyed all of only 5 ½ hours of sleep.

My first idea was sheer bribery. Never go into a presentation empty-handed and attack with sugar. So I stopped by the Albertson’s and bought a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts. Hey, it was no holds barred at this point!!

I got in to school and immediately locked myself in a small room in the library where no one knew where I was and even purposely left my cell phone at home. This was an emergency effort that required all of my attention. I wrote notes, mapped out a strategy, wrote dialog, created outlines, and practiced things like pace, stance, facial expressions, and subtle mannerisms to convey confidence. I then made note cards and practiced again. In all, I had an hour to do this, then an hour of class, and then another hour before the presentation.

I thought about skipping the C++ class but I thought better of it. I had a program due that I had to hand in anyway and I’m so glad I went because the instructor went over in detail our next project and even leaked a little code that would have taken hours if not decades for me to figure out alone. Whew, another bullet dodged.

After the class, I found an empty classroom and went at practicing again. Too nervous to eat, I just forged through the presentation three times aloud until it was time to go. I was ready (or as ready and 6 hours afforded me).

The presentation didn’t go as well as I would have hoped but it went better than it should have. I was told it was one of the best of the six (presented in two hours, ouch!) but I was nervous. It was only my ability to pull something so spectacularly out of my ass and present in a manner than does not divulge the utter incompetent manner in which I handled the whole assignment that got me by.

Looking at myself truthfully, I get pissed off when I realize that I’m better at methodical preparation of a quality product through hard work than I am at hiding my unpreparedness through smooth presentation. The fact that I’m good at the latter makes me think how much better I could be if I invest myself in the former more often than I do. Some people live in the “hiding unpreparedness through smooth presentation” zone and are OK with that. I’m not and only use it as last resort.

After the presentation, everything came crashing down. The nervousness of the last 6 hours, the heat, the lack of food all combined to make me dead dog tired. I listened to the rest of the presentations (thought that was the polite thing to do since they had to listen to me babble) and then made a bee line home where I couldn’t get out of my shirt and tie fast enough. Shortly thereafter, off the nap land I went and when I woke up, it was dark.

Looking back, last night I gleefully dorked around with the Perl script, updated my webpage with a search engine, and messed with my Blogger settings until 0100 in the morning, all while being blissfully ignorant of the fact that I had a programming assignment, a major write up for an Enterprise Resource Program (ERP) assignment, and a major presentation due the next day. I get teased a lot because I schedule everything down to the knat’s ass in my Outlook and then make a daily print out (which tells me when to wake up, when to go to school, when to come home, when to have family time, when to have study time, when to have computer time, when to watch certain TV shows, when to do personal reading, and when to go to bed) and yet I can still seem to let major requirements slip right by me. Sometimes I scare myself.

I stayed up until 0100 last night and paid for it today in more ways than one. I was so enamored by the fact I got the Perl script and the batch file to work that I decided I couldn’t leave well enough alone. I had to tackle the BLOG settings on this Blog site. Many hours later I had made some progress (note the archive links) but still can’t seem to get the BLOG entries older than a month to drop off this main page.

When I wrote to Blogger, I get the standard “You’re using the free service and we have a million customers so the paying ones come first. We may NEVER get to your answer.” I thought this a pretty shitty way to treat even the cheap bastards like myself, not to mention a cheesy way to entice people to pay for the upgraded service. But as you know, I’m crazy sensitive about such issues.

I stumbled to bed last night vowing to take my BLOG down off of Blogger and just make it a regular HTML page I update and upload myself. I can create the archive pages myself and have full control. But then I decided to put this little project off until after the holidays because I will be traveling and the nice thing about the Blogger service is that you can make entries via the web from anywhere.

So for all you “Captain Grose’s Blog” fans, it will be transparent. The both of you can rest assured.

Wednesday, November 20, 2002
Today was a red-letter day in my computer/webpage life.

I’ve been wanting to find a searching mechanism for my webpage since when I left Tripod, I lost that capability they provided as part of their service. I found a free CGI script on the web and downloaded it. Since I’ve never messed with anything like this, I looked like a monkey humping a football which resulted in a real coding mess that didn’t even come close to executing correctly. So I did the logical thing: I wrote my webspace provider for some help, mainly inquiring about if they offered an indexing service as part of my membership that I could use as a search engine for my page.

What I got back was something teetering on the edge of rudeness stating that they don’t provide support for 3rd party scripts. While I can understand the necessity for such a policy, it bothered me for two reasons:

1. It was not the thrust of my question but it was the main point in their answer


2. The almost accusatory tone is not the way you want to come across to someone paying you real American green.

Anyway, they did suggest I log onto the member forum and see if I could find help there (we can’t help you but hey, try other people we didn’t help!). that is when I found what I was looking for.

OK, I’m not making a dime for this but this is the email I sent out a few hours afterward:


I read a good recommendation on a bulletin board about your Zoom search script when I was looking for a search capability for my webpage. Your product worked so well and the documentation was so helpful, I couldn’t wait to donate. Do you accept Pay Pal?

As a testimonial, let me say I have never worked with any scripts, PERL, CGI, etc. I have limited DOS experience and am learning a bit of programming. To be sure, I was an extreme novice and had only your directions to guide me step by step. I followed them and was rewarded by a perfectly working search engine for my site (www.grose.us/search/search.htm)

I won’t go into the gory details (OK, maybe I will) but I spent a few hours configuring this and testing it out and it worked as advertised. Not often you find things like this for free and I’m the cheapest bastard I know!!

Here is what I figured out:

the zip file you get is basically a set of tools and documentation. The indexing script will go through your entire local website and read every stinkin’ word (skipping pages and even words you tell it to in special text files) in every html, htm, doc, or any other type of file you tell it to peek into.

Then it indexes the word with a number next to it which says what page it is on. As it finds the word again, it puts the page identifier on the list next to the word. The key to the page identification numbers is in another file.

So you get something like:

Jason (1) (4) (16) (54)

This means that the word “jason” is on those pages and “those pages” are listed in another file with the URL next to them.

It goes through your entire website and does this little dance until it completes. Now this is on the local (offline) files you keep on your home computer which should be an exact replica of your online files (I’ll let you work out your own synchronization issues). You tehn upload all these cool little files to your webpage along with an HTML search page with a submission form in the code (the documentation walks you through this, too) and it’s a done deal.

When someone goes to your search page and types in a word, the script actually goes to those indexing pages and uses them to find the appropriate URLs. Another script formats the results for you and displays them with clickable links to your hits. Just like your own little Google!!!!

The cool thing is that you can either use many of the default settings and get a plain Jane search page that works fine or you can configure it immensely as you discover cute little options.

OK, my two front teeth have grown to immense proportions and I think a pocket protector just suddenly appeared on my shirt. But if you want to use this script, go to www.wrensoft.com and become a fellow dork like me.

Oh, and I also created and used my own batch file for the first time. To do the offline indexing, you have to use raw DOS commands and the documentation suggested you make a batch. After asking a friend between classes about batch files (causing me to be late to C++ class) I got the gist of creating and using batch files. BTW, Sam, you were wrong but thanks anyway. You don’t have to put the file name in quotes when saving the text file to make it a batch. You simply give it the .bat extension and voila!!! You’d better stick with that easy XML crap you’re involved in .

What’s next? Well, I have to go through my webpage and find all the pages I took the search link OFF of and put it back on and also find all of the pages I left the search link ON and change the link from search.html to search.htm. What a pisser! Good thing I used templates so they propagate the changes through but I still have to upload the changed pages across my micro-tube dial-up commie bastard modem. Hmmm…. maybe I can do a batch file that …. I gotta get some sleep!

Remember the opportunity I got for building the NPS MWR webpage? The deal just got sweeter. I found out that NPS is coming out with required templates all NPS-related webpages must use. What does this mean to me? Considerably less design headaches since I’m required to use the templates for the overall look.

At first, I thought that I was really getting over on these guys: a new laptop and now all I got to do is throw existing info into a template. But then I realized that they would not have the expertise to do this and it would cost them considerable more to pay a professional to do the same thing. Plus, the Navy is cracking down on the policies they’ve had for years (and added to lately due to heightened security) so that if your Navy-related website does not conform to their specs and requirements, you will be ordered to take it down. So that means that if I wouldn’t have come along, MWR would have to tear down their old website completely (it doesn’t even come close to compliance). The new templates conform to them so I don’t even have to worry about it. Everybody wins!!! Sometimes even the junkyard dog finds a juicy bone once in awhile. I knew this webpage stuff would pay off eventually .

After school today, I thought I’d take a walk downtown for some coffee. Let me share a couple of observations:

1. When you are used to driving everywhere, the mental measurement of the distance to the nearest coffee shop is way freakin’ off!!!

2. A book bag slung over your shoulder doubles in weight every 50 feet you walk

3. A dress shirt quickly transforms to hammered dog crap when walking with a book bag slung over your shoulder

4. There are a lot of pretty women in Monterey

5. There are a lot of sloppy, rude, dumb-looking men in Monterey

6. Based on the teenagers I observed, our society is doomed

7. I’m getting the attitude of a man twice my age

Oh, and let me publicly answer the insane moron at the outdoor coffee shop: no, not only does your smoking NOT bother me, but the fact that you asked me two different times does. And you might refrain from asking the Hispanic stranger at the next table the same question and then apologizing about the oil tanker than sank off the Spanish coast today. I don’t think you nor he had much to do with it.

To the fat guy in the Dodge Durango with his baseball cap on backwards: the fact that you have your bass turned up loud enough to alter the axis of the Earth does not change the fact that you are fat nor will it likely make that lady you nearly broke your neck looking at, fall over with her legs in the air as her panties magically shoot skyward.

To the Human Pin Cushion: Dude, easy on the piercings! God forbid you might procreate and have to explain yourself to your mini-dysfunctionals.

To the homosexual who felt he must announce his ways via a very loud conversation with his “partner” concerning the degree of his gayness Yeah, we know, you’re here, your queer. Now go “there”, anywhere but “here”, and be quiet.

But the coffee was good….

Tuesday, November 19, 2002
My brother-in-law chastised me today for sending him an email virus that crapped all over his system, even though I didn’t show up as the sender. It was “sent” by a friend of mine whose only connection to my brother-in-law is through me. Putting two and two together, I got the blame. Here is what I sent to him:


Kris told me that you received a virus from a friend of mine. Since I know my machine is clean, it probably happened something like this: I sent out the mass email to everyone telling them of my new address. If anyone I sent it to has the virus, it strips off two names from the massive list and puts one in the “From” line and one in the “To” line and sends a copy of itself. In this way, the person who originally sent the initial email (me) can be virus free and is unaware it happened. The “To” recipient (you) may recognize the common name of the sender and opens it, thus unleashing the commie bastard virus. The “From” (Shane) never even knows what happened!! Pretty slick, created by some bastard programmer!!

Here is some suggestions:

1. If I send out another mass mailing, I’ll use the BCC instead of the “To” or “CC”. Maybe if the virus can’t see the addresses, it can’t nab them.

2. You can create your own filter using Outlook. Since I have dial-up (gap-toothed inbred Ludites here don’t have cable internet!!!) I don’t like to get gigantic email that chokes the dogcrap out of my hair thin internet connection. So I set up my Outlook so that it doesn’t accept anything larger than 100 KB and then I go to school and download the big files (if I want them) with their gigabit network, courtesy of the taxpayers money.

The unintended benefit of this little procedure is that most of these butthole virus emails that are going around are around 150 KB so they are not downloaded. I can then go online through my browser and access my email account via webmail and delete them before they ever get near my machine.

Here’s how to do all this in Outlook:

- Go to your main Outlook window and go to Tools/Options/Mail Delivery.
- The last check box says “Don’t download messages larger than ____ KB
- Check this box and type in “100” in the size box
- Hit “Apply” and then “OK”

When you check your mail, you will only get messages <100 KB. If there are messages larger than that, you will see a yellow triangle in the bottom corner of your Outlook window saying something about mail delivery problems. Click the triangle and you will get a window that tells you who the message was from, the subject, and how big the file is.

You will encounter a combination of two scenarios:

1. There is mail you want
2. There is email that you don’t want because it looks like a commie bastard virus email

#1 Only: go through the Tools/Options/Mail Delivery setup described above but this time uncheck the box. Then hit “Apply” and “OK” and then hit the send and receive button again. You will get the email. DON’T FORGET TO GO BACK AND RECHECK THAT BOX WHEN YOU ARE DONE OR YOU WILL KEEP GETTING THE COMMIE BASTARD VIRUS EMAILS!!!!

#2 Only: go to your webmail account. This is usually a website you can log into and see the mail that is currently sitting in the inbox at your ISP that has not been downloaded. It is mainly for when you are away from your computer (like vacation) and can still access your email. It’s a lot like a Hotmail account but it’s the one your Outlook goes to to check mail. Check with your ISP to get the URL. You will need your log in name and password. It’s as easy to use as a Hotmail account. Once there, just delete the email and it will go away without ever getting to your machine.

#1 AND #2: go to the webmail FIRST and delete the commie bastard virus email, leaving the good stuff. Then go through procedure #1 to get the good stuff in your Outlook. DON’T FORGET TO GO BACK AND RECHECK THAT BOX WHEN YOU ARE DONE!!!

For more Jason and Leon TBS shenanigans, read An Officer and a Gentleman, Sort Of.
Monday, November 18, 2002
I just found out that an SPC from my TBS days is coming here to NPS. An SPC is one of the Captains that’s in charge of a bunch of lieutenants at TBS when we are going through the 6 month infantry course. They come in many flavors from drill instructor wannabees to incredible mentors.

This particular one, named Capt McDonough, was a unique blend of the hard ass and the guy you respected. There were a few that were just plain assholes but this one had the hardcore aura but was generally respected if not feared a bit. It’s a true gift when you can be intensely intimidating but still garner respect without trying as opposed to a raging idiot who will always remembered as such. I had some issues about a year and a half ago with one in the latter category who decided to trash my reputation throughout the Corps by getting everyone to attack my webpage. The attack ran its course but not before somehow getting a disappointingly large number of Officers to jump on the bandwagon and distribute rather unflattering opinions about the webpage to everyone but me directly. But back to the story…

During the downtimes, a fellow TBS student and I used to entertain ourselves by making up little funny scenarios involving the SPCs and this particular one was a common character due to his intimidation factor and thick Boston accent. Leon could imitate any accent and has an incredible sense of humor so his quick wit and talent for improvisation kept me laughing until my body hurt. We always cast this SPC in very violent situation usually involving some wayward lieutenant.

One day we had a guest speaker and we were all sitting in the auditorium, on the verge of sleep because we had just done some insane evolution in the field and was totally spent. As we sat there trying to stay conscience, the talk finally concluded with the stereotypical request for any questions from the audience. Now it’s almost universally understood in this situation that you shut your mouth and let the awkward silence linger for a moment until the speaker makes a witty comment and the person in charge thanks him for his time and we all get to leave. Well, one infamous lieutenant lived in a different universe.

You know the one: always asked that big ass, long-winded, irreverent question to the utter amazement of all present. True to form, this spring-butt stands up and asks, and I’m not exaggerating, about a 5 part convoluted question of such confusion, even the speaker was speechless of even how to begin to answer.

It was then that Leon and I went to work with our latest skit, describing it like we were watching a movie. We envisioned seeing McDonough in his chair suddenly just dropping from sight, straight down, sliding beneath the chairs. Then we see the idiot lieutenant rambling his question with the “Jaws” theme just barely audible beneath his speech. Then we see a hand come up, guy disappears, and is shortly replaced with a skin puppet that loosely looks like the lieutenant. The “lieutenant” then withdraws and apologizes with a Boston accent for the dumb question and collapses in the chair like an old coat. A minute later, McDonough pops back up in his own chair and absentmindedly dabs the splattering of blood all over his face with a small tissue while his eyes shift from left to right. Fade to black.

I missed Boston Public tonight, dammit!!! I was doing homework (and let me point out that I really suck at case studies which I will be analyzing for all of eternity if I get sent to Hell) and time got away from me. I did not forget to watch it, I only forgot to tape it because I’m restricted from watching TV until Saturday.

It began last Friday when I provoked my daughter’s wrath. Yes, Superdad blew it big time and especially ironic is the fact that I just went through the entire “Bootcamp for Kids” lecture with 4 people where I claim it’s the parents’ that dictate behavior, good or bad, in most situations.

I guess it was a bad decision on my part to whip down her pajama drawers and run off laughing. Down the hall came an enraged 8 year old intent on inflicting serious bodily harm as I jumped on the bed. At first I thought she was just playing (as we do sometimes when we wrestle around) but it soon became evident that she was intent on, well, kicking my ass. Punches were thrown and kicks were viciously thrust at my huddled form. And these weren’t just of the little girl variety; she was well, no other way to say it but to repeat: kicking my ass.

After she wore herself out, I think she realized and ran out of the room. I was pretty much stunned at the whole affair and trying to keep my temper in check. I mean little girl or no, daughter or not, she was getting in some pretty good pops on old pops. I had to wait a full ten minutes before even coming out for fear of really letting my rage voice itself in the form of a few dozen decibels.

When the time was right, I went out there and gave her a few choice words about her attacking her father and a lecture on respect (for those of you that are yelling “hypocrite”, I know, hold on until the rest of the story). I the grounded her for a week from the TV, computer, and going anywhere. I then went to bed after telling her that if her intent was to hurt me, she did, right here (as I put my hand over my heart).

I slept like crap that night and in the morning, right after I went on my run, I talked to her and told her that I had something else to tell her. I told her that while she was wrong for trying to solve situation with violence and for showing a total lack of respect for her father, that I too was wrong for provoking her. I then told her that while my actions does not excuse her reaction, I should be punished for what I did and I would therefore share the punishment with her. I could admit when I was wrong and we would learn this lesson together.

I think this still gets to the heart of the matter, shows her that I can admit when I’m wrong, and makes it a little easier for her to go through while still enforcing the concept. We have never restricted our kids before and I wanted her to learn this lesson so that she’s never forget.

The downside for me is that I missed college football on Saturday, pro football on Sunday, and now Boston Public. What a bummer but a deal’s a deal. I could still watch TV when she went to bed but how utterly wrong would that be!!! Nope, we got a deal.

You should have seen the tears flow when Carrie and Alex went to go see Harry Potter on Sunday. But I recovered . Steph was a mess at first but then we spent the evening playing games, looking through photo albums, and making dinner together. Heck, with this kind of punishment, she just might want to kick my butt every week!!!!

The bit of bad news just slightly dampened the great news that came about today. I forgot to write about it last weekend but I was contacted to design an improved webpage for the Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MRR) office at NPS. I had a meeting with the Quality of Life guy and he basically wanted someone to work on the site. Since he can’t pay me, his idea was to let me use a new computer as a perk and since I crave the experience, I agreed to do it. He had a Compaq 1200 just sitting around but knew nothing about it. He told me to take it home and try it out and see if it’s what was needed. Here is what I wrote him back on Friday afternoon:


Since I don’t like to put things off, I jumped right onto the laptop when I got home. The good news is that it did start up. Now for the rest…

After honest evaluation of the Compaq Presario 1200 notebook you provided, I found it to be deficient for the needs of the project. I have summed up my evaluation in the following points:

My research confirms that it’s an “Internet” computer which is another way to say that it’s functionality is stripped down for optimization of web use. In other words, it is the lower end of the product line.

The operating system is Windows ME which my experience has shown to be a substandard product. On my personal home system, I actually downgraded back to Windows 98 after having many problems with Windows ME.

There is only 60 MB of RAM which is fine for Internet surfing but for onboard processing of data and image manipulation, it is woefully deficient. Most webpage development software start their minimum recommendations at 128 MB.

There is about 6 GB of storage which is also low compared to the current systems available but not as glaring as the other deficiencies.

I believe the Celeron processor runs at 400 MHz which is sluggish, especially when working with many programs at once such as web development, image manipulation, word processing, etc. (all which are necessary when developing a webpage.). The current systems today are operating in excess of 1 GHz.

There is no massive storage capability for back up (Zip drive, CD burner) which makes transfer of large files problematic.

No modem for external dial-in capability.

As an “Internet” computer, it serves it’s intended purpose. But for a project such as the MWR webpage project, it is unsuited for the computing requirements necessary to successfully complete the project.

We can talk about what is needed but before going forth with detailed needs evaluation, requirement specs, and phase outlines, I need to know if you have and are willing to invest in the hardware and software upgrades necessary. I am not attempting to inflate the needs but simply want to have the appropriate resources to complete the project.

What I foresee being able to provide is the following:

- A new MWR website for the students and families at NPS.
- Designing the website in Dreamweaver
- Transferring it to the NPS network system
- Making the network and software connections for maintainability at the local level
- Teaching the updaters how to access and update the page
- A simple manual that outlines the procedures for updating
- Technical support and updates until Sept ‘03

We can talk about the details of both the hardware/software requirements and additions, deletions, modifications to the project outlined above. But again, I will need to know about the resources before getting too deep into the project.

-- Jason

I didn’t want to sound greedy but didn’t want to work with Flintstones technology either.

Here is the sum total of what he sent back (which sent a tingle up my spine):

“how much do you need?”

I think it was at this point that I shat myself.

So a-building I did go. I went online and priced out Dells and Sonys (on the advice of a friend. Thanks, Dan). One Dell cost about a billion dollars so I decided to pull back on the extras like launch systems and stuff. I got it down to $2200 and then another model for about $1900. the next day I hit the Sony site and got more for less, to the tune of just under $1800.

Having no idea if this was even near what he had in mind, I was a bit tentative to drop the digits. I took them in to him today (along with the Compaq stone tablet) and explained to him my research, hoping I could convey to him the honest effort and justification for what I configured. I didn’t want him to think I was taking advantage and gouging the price and capability necessity. I keep telling myself that he’s getting a lot of work for relatively cheap compared to a contract but that doesn’t make it much easier to ask for $2K. this goes back to my childhood when I hated to even ask for a quarter to get some candy. But I digress.

He seemed to take it well and say that was about the upper end he would be able to provide but he would give it to his contracting agent. With a handshake the deal was done and I walked out on cloud nine. If things go right, I should be hearing from him in a couple of days.

I guess I’d better start designing a page.

There is a freakin’ thief in our midst at NPS. I came in to the lab and noticed my headphones were missing. When I pointed this out to my fellow lab buddies (none of which I even fleetingly suspected.) they informed me that they think the new, high speed computer we installed last week was stolen. After a bit of investigation which involved calling at home one of the only 4 people who have keys, we concluded that it was indeed missing. They took the new highspeed, state of the art Dell computer with the LCD flatscreen, the box of speakers we had yet to unpack and my freakin’ headphones!! What stranger is what they left: a brand new laptop sitting next to the system and the brand new printer/scanner/copier still in the box.

I guess it wouldn’t be too hard since there is no top that separates the inner and outer office. They likely climbed over or maybe just had a master key. The sad part is that it was someone trusted because it’s on a secure base through two locked doors (or one door and a jump over the wall). So it was someone who’s career was worth much more than a few grand or part of the maintenance/cleaning crew who have master keys. Whoever it was, they knew what they were doing because it was a nice machine. They might have seen the boxes outside the office last week and known a new computer was around but at NPS, there are hundreds of easily accessible computers all over campus.

I remember a sergeant major once telling a formation I was in that if we catch a thief in the barracks, bring him straight to his office. If he happened to fall down a few flights of stairs accidentally on the way over, so be it, as along as he was breathing. There are a lot of stairs at NPS.

We had a guest speaker in one of my classes and he talked about quantum computers. It was something to do with two things: transmitting data in quantum packets so you couldn’t intercept it without one of then ends knowing and something about analyzing the 1’s and 0’s that were being represented by the probability state instead of the physical actuality and then basing your computing on the range of probabilities. I think the entire explanation made me sterile.
I got my space systems test (satellites) test back today. It was the 6 hour, 9 page behemoth I was whining about doing on my birthday. I got 49/50 points but I still wouldn’t trust me to do any of the orbital math or make any of your decisions when it comes to satellites. If I were you, I’d call the professor that teaches the class because, you know, he seems to know what he’s talking about while I sit there and wonder things like if I can fit my whole fist in my mouth or why my jaw sometimes pops when I chew.
A great reaction from a good friend and fellow Marine Corps Captain regarding the psycic idiot on TV I talked about in my Oct 8th BLOG. My friend is a Puerto Rican New Yorker with the accent and attitude to prove it. I didn't clear it with him to post this so I'll probably be the Beatin' of the Week.

"Modern day gypsie, they all are. My old man gets a big kick out of that guy. I’d like to go on the show and just say no all of the time even if his vagueries had some modicom of truth I’d be like “no, I’ve never eaten turkey before.....” and “I live in a yert so I don’t have indoor plumbing.... what are you getting at.” an even better response would be “yes! We used to eat turkey sandwhiches on the way to my therapy sessions after I beat a con-artist to death with his own shoe and a frozen salmon. You wouldn’t happen be a con-artist would you? I have an itch to satisfy a voice in my head.....yes the little one way in the back.”

Friday, November 15, 2002
This morning Stephanie, my 8-year-old daughter showed me the “new” jeans her mother bought her. They were Barbie jeans (yes, Barbie makes jeans now, I guess) and I noticed that the front of the pant legs looked a little worn and faded. Being the wonderful father I was, my reaction was “Why are you wearing used pants?” Then came the dagger stare from Carrie.

I then went on to state with mock excitement “Oh, you got them at the Salvation Army. Or maybe Goodwill? Hey, maybe I can sell my old clothes and charge people full price!! I could stitch my name right here and …” (fade away under the crush of the continued hate-stare from the wife).

“Maybe we can go to the store later and get you a ripped up t-shirt and pay full price. No wait, I get it, it was Barbie who wore the front out and then sold them. It’s all coming together now.” (Carrie slaps me out of the bathroom…)

I have officially tripped headlong into the generation gap. To my kids, I have ceased to retain any “cool” factor whatsoever.

Thursday, November 14, 2002
For some reason, I’ve received a flurry of emails from parents with problem children, asking about bootcamp for kids. I had one mother of a 6-year-old that wanted to send him to Marine bootcamp! Another wanted to send her 9-year-old. There was another 9 year old that was out of control and a 14-year-old but their mothers only wanted advice and not a DI unleashed. All this within a week. I started to think it was an elaborate, organized joke but just in case it wasn’t, I sent a version of the following in response:

“It is obvious that you are dealing with some very difficult issues and that there are problems in the household. To answer your question, no, you cannot send a 9-year-old to bootcamp. First, that is not what Marine Corps bootcamp is for. It’s for making Marines and teaching men and women how to protect America through winning in combat. Second, Sending a 9-year-old to that environment is, and excuse my candor, utterly ridiculous. I do not claim to know the answer to your problems in this area but that alternative is preposterous from the point of the Marine Corps as well as from the child’s perspective..

I get many questions about sending children to a bootcamp-style counseling program and even wrote a little about my thoughts on this at http://www.grose.us/faqdir/kids.html.

You will see that I don’t really agree with sending a problem to Marine bootcamp in the hopes of resurrecting a good person.

Assuming for a minute you were considering a bootcamp-style counseling program, I still don’t think it’s the right answer. It may be but before you make that decision, you must get counseling to help you make that decision. In my personal opinion, you need more help and maybe the school can refer you to professional help. You sound as though you have given honest effort and care for your child so it is vitally important that you seek out professional help especially since it’s affecting your entire life. It’s no fair to you or him and it will only get worse without help. You would not be helping yourself or him if you let this go on because it will get physical soon, if it hasn’t already.

I hope I have not offended you in this email and I hope you will take my advice. If the situation is as bad as you describe, you need the professional help. Talk to the school counselors and get a referral or call up community services for help. Whatever you do, don’t let it go on.

Please feel free to email me back with any further questions or just to share your thoughts.”

Now, I’m no Dr. Phil but criminy!! I know I’ve been blessed with two great kids and I base my views on the fact that I had my shot and am churning out two pretty good munchkins. I don’t want to belittle or offer a skewed perspective but sending kids to bootcamp? I don’t know whether to be offended or complimented. Offended because I don’t see my beloved Corps as the last chance disciplinarian machine. Complimented because we have a reputation of transforming even the most challenging youth whose been subjected to the ravages and neglect of America at its worse and producing what most people define as success stories during and after their obligation.

I guess I just get a little depressed and tired of hearing about very young boys totally out of control. I think the father’s should be beat senseless because, and this is my opinion, it is the father who is supposed to provide the discipline tempered with love and show these boys how to be men. So I’ll just take care of my little piece of the world and offer advice when asked.

Wednesday, November 13, 2002
I did it. I got online and found that the 10th annual Bishop High Sierra 50 mile ultramarathon had the entry form posted. I downloaded it, filled it out, and will be sending it soon. For a mere $65, you too can run 50 miles in the desert for no apparent reason. I already signed up for the Big Sur marathon. A week later, I will be running the Wild Wild West trail marathon in Lone Pine (like the last 3 years) but their info isn’t up yet. Two weeks after that is the Bishop. Goals:

Big Sur: Beat the President’s PR of 3:46. (Last year I wanted to bust the 4 hour mark but at mile 20, I sprouted a vagina and had to do some walkin’).

Lone Pine: Sub 5 hour with Phil Patch’s help. My times have been 6:03, 6:11, and 5:56 so you can see it’s quite a goal.

Bishop: Sub 12 hour (last year I came in at 13:33). Secondary goal: to once again beat that 55 year old lady I beat last year (the only person I finished in front of).

So you can see, I have my work cut out for me. If you feel inclined to write me and tell me how nuts I am, save it. I’ve heard it all before. Well, OK, that’s part of the fun. Let’s hear it!!!

I started and finished my cheesy C++ program tonight (yet it still took more time that it should have!!). Basically takes in a list of temperatures from a text file into an array, displays them, averages them, and then outputs a histogram bar chart. Those that don’t know programming will be thinking “Ooooh, this guy’s a genius.” Those of you who have any programming experience will be saying “What a simpleton! Probably doesn’t even use header files but leaves the functions in the source file.” To which I shall respond “Na huh!!!”

Today I also edited my wife’s concept paper about religion. She’s been stressing like Christina Aguilara at the STD clinic over this so I was happy to see it done. She wrote about the differences between Catholicism and Protestantism and I actually learned a few things. She pointed out that Catholic churches usually have Jesus hanging up there on the cross with all His pain and gore while Protestants just have the cross. I never thought about that but I realized she was right. I’ve been to a few Catholic masses with my dear grandmother and was the best man at a Catholic wedding a few years back. No offense but I was as utterly confused as to the intricate procedures I was supposed to do but the “sit down” “stand up” routine really wore me out. I felt like an actor in a play who didn’t study his lines. Give me good old Protestantism where I can sit there in a bored stupor without being expected to do anything but maybe clap hands to a song or something.
Today I was sick and was unable to make it to my two classes. But did that stop me from continuing the streak? Of course not, Silly Rabbit, but it hurt like you read about in “Sickly Runner” magazine. Yes, it sucked but the streak continues (all of 8 days now).

I feel bad that I couldn’t make it into class but it just wasn’t worth it. Instead, I worked on a take-home midterm that’s due Friday. Nothing like a midterm to tell you that you really should have paid closer attention in class. They are all essay questions which means, you know, bring forth the bovine fecal extraction toolset. It’s a combination of the following questions:
1. What do I know? (ut-oh)
2. What can I dig out of the Power Point slides?
3. What can I glean out of my notes? (which in my case is a big goose egg unless he asks about doodles of drill instructors screaming and swirly bubble letters of the minutes left in class).
4. What can I find using Google (we’ll label this “research”)
5.What does he want to hear?
But most important:
6. How can I take my limited knowledge, sprinkle in buzzwords, and twist my skewed, uninformed understanding and make it look like #5?
And who says higher education isn’t like real life?

Tuesday, November 12, 2002
This morning, I met Phil at 0630 at his hotel (the big-pants people kind: Marriot) so we could run. Yeah, we’re crazy like that. We had a great run if you like hearing someone yammering endlessly about Monterey and marathoning. But enough about me, Phil was a good sport. We ran for about an hour and had a good conversation. When I got home, Carrie asked what was new with him and despite the combined 7 hours over two days with him, my answer was the classic guy answer: “Nothin’”

Let her read my BLOG like everyone else. Just because she bore my children, like that gives her special status.

(Just kidding, Honey )

Speaking of which, I had one of those really scary, realistic dreams. Seems I was rolling down the road in my truck but for some reason, I was in the back seat…alone in the truck. Well, at some point I thought it smart to hop in the front and, you know, drive. Well, I hop up there and then things get a bit hazy. I start veering but don’t seem to be in control and kind of lose my sense of where the hell I’m going. I notice for a few brief seconds that I don’t exactly see the road and when I try to correct, I’m met with the scene out my front window of a bridge guard rail, the cement kind. I realize I’m heading right for it at a pretty good clip and the last thing I remember is my jaw dropping ready for the final scream of my life as I surly plunge hundreds of feet to my death. Then I awoke. Those kind of dreams really suck.

Now before anyone tries to analyze this stupid thing, just let it go. I was driving truckasaurus all around the windy roads of Big Sur yesterday so leave it at that. I don’t need to hear how I needed more affection from my father or that I have erotic, suppressed issues with my mother!!! I’ll chalk it up to the beer and tostadas.

Yesterday, Phil Patch came into town and we went sightseeing. Phil was my first boss as an Officer when I was the Adjutant for 1st Tank Battalion back in 1997. He was the XO and have remained friends since. We ran together while we were stationed in 29 Palms until his retirement and subsequent move to Virginia. But he makes trips back to run marathons with me every year he can.

He came in town for a 3 day conference so I picked him up and we went out to Big Sur to see the exquisite scenery. Not being a natural beauty appreciator (other than the female form) he was surprised how much he actually enjoyed the view. If you’ve never seen big Sur, I can’t describe it here. Look it up on the web or look at my marathon pics to get an idea.

True to form, we grabbed some beer afterwards and had tostadas for dinner. All and all, some good quality talk time with a good friend while watching Monday Night Football. Life is really good sometimes but even when it isn’t, it beats the Hell out of the alternative!!!

Sunday, November 10, 2002
Today is the Marine Corps birthday number 227!!! Here is what I wrote to all the Marines I know:

“Brothers and Sisters,

Today is the 227th birthday of our beloved Corps and I’m honored to have so many Marines to send this to. From the men like SGTMAJ Wertjes who made sure I received the initial indoc at bootcamp to the men who have mentored me along the way, I have benefited from each one of you. I hope I have reciprocated and sufficiently taken what you have taught me and passed it to the Marines I have had the honor to serve with.

One day I will leave the active ranks of our Corps and it will be you who I recall and tell stories about to all that will listen. On this 227th birthday, I wish you all a happy birthday and stand humbled at the company of incredible people I call my brethren.

Semper Fidelis and God Bless.”

I bought a domain name (grose.us) and some webspace which came with 250 MB of storage and 250 email addresses. Using the domain name with the webspace, I was able to host my webpage on my own site and the new and improved URL is www.grose.us and my email is now jason@grose.us. Not bad for $6.95 per year for the domain and $6.66 per month for the web space. If you want to go through the same companies, go to www.godaddy.com for the domain and www.powweb.com for the webspace. If you buy the webspace, give grose.us as the referral and I’ll get some kickback (isn’t America great?) Thanks to Douglas for the info.

I spent the weekend updating all the links on my local version and then FTPing them over to my new site. A lot of work but I think it’s done. If you find any bum links, let me know. My wife is a little miffed that I tied up the line for so long but such is life with dial up.

I watched the Scooby Doo movie last night so let me vent a little. First, really dumb movie. But, hey, it’s Scooby Doo, what do ya expect? Fred, played by Freddie Prinze Jr, was more believable in the role than I expected. (But it’s Fred From Scooby Doo so that’s not much of a compliment.) I saw him on a talk show and he’s like a Scooby Doo freak in real life. Collects the videos and actually sought out the role. Wow. Scary.

The real star was the guy who plays Shaggy. He sounded JUST like Shaggy (original voice was Casey Kasem, for your trivia buffs). I laughed at the exactness of the voice and when he said “Scooby Doo, where are you?” I had to laugh. They really played on the urban legend of Shaggy being a drug addict (eats a lot AKA “munchies” and has a general stoner attitude). He meets a girl in the movie whose name is Mary Jan to which he says “Like, that’s my favorite name!!” The farting scene was bottom feeding the comedy thing but kids liked it. Go figure.

Daphne was played by Sarah Michelle Geller who just happened to be Freddie P’s real life Scooby snack. Ole Buffy just does nothing for me. Too skinny and just never gave me the jinkies. So having her play the Scooby theme’s knockout was a little disappointing to me since, as a kid, Daphne represented everything a hormone enraged adolescent craved.

Speaking of which, we come to Velma. Now if you remember, Velma was the bull dike-looking girl nerd in the old cartoons. Glasses, boy cut hair, thick sweater, and slightly bulgy overall figure caused boys all over the U.S. of A. a definite hard OFF. But much like the casting of Daphne, they missed the mark in this movie. You know in those bad 80’s movies where they took a total knockout, put her hair up, dressed her in frumpy clothes, and stuck some oversized glasses on her and expected you to consider her unattractive? But you knew she was as hot as magma and by the end of the movie she has “transformed” to this goddess (usually by tightening the clothes and taking the glasses off, as though you were going to be taken totally aback by this sudden metamorphosis!)

Getting back to Velma, they had some actress play her that, yes, sounded like her and yes, dressed like her, and even yes, had a questionable taste in hair dressers. But like those thinly disguised vixens in the 80’s, you just knew this babe had all the right stuff in all the right places. Although I appreciated the eye candy in such a pathetic movie, I don’t think they should have cast Velma with shapely legs, a pretty face, and big boobs that, in part of the movie, really got center stage when she wore a low cut shirt. Sorry guys, this is not your daddy’s Velma. She was a hotter babe than Daphne and this was just wrong. I think Rosie O’Donnell should have been Velma. It would have been better than her fat Betty gig in the Flintstones movie.

I guess I should mention Scooby since he was the main character. He was computer generated so the “gee whiz” factor outshone his “performance.” Voice was mediocre and I would have lost all interest in the movie if it wasn’t for the fact that he looked so much like my own dog. That and Shaggy’s right on voice impression. Oh, and Velma’s boobs.

I never got to write about the Marine Corps Ball on November 1st. That Friday morning after my run, I checked my email and got the word that the LtCol who was setting it up needed help. The band had power requirements that required them to rearrange the entire stage. Plus they needed help getting the equipment off the semi and he had put out the word for volunteers for that morning at 0800. It was 0845 so I figured I was too late but decided to call to see if he had enough people. When I called, he said it was him and another guy. “OK, Sir, let me throw on some clothes and I’ll be there in ½ hour.” Heck, I’ll do anything to get out of my one class on Friday morning.

The band was a popular swing band named Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and I guess they are really popular. I never heard of them but I guess they played the Super Bowl half time a few years back.

We helped bring in the equipment but the romance of being a roadie was quickly destroyed. There weren’t even any groupies to lie, claiming I was “with the band.”

The ball was a great time. We reserved our entire table with four other couples so for the first time ever, I knew everyone at my table. The Sbragias and the Garzas had a great time and with the band being moved, our nose-bleed seats turned into two tables from the stage. Also for the first time, I got out and danced almost the entire time. I had never listened to swing before but something about 7 guys going full tilt with horns, guitars, drums, keyboards, etc was exciting. They had their full set up and despite the big dining hall, the band set up was for a much larger venue. The result was a very up close and loud experience.

My C++ teacher, and ex-Navy officer, bought tickets and rented a tux just to see the band. He was as excited as a little kid and like everyone I saw there, seemed to enjoy the entertainment.

The night ended too early though. We thought the band was on a break at about 1100 and we went to talk to them (it was that intimate of a setting). I asked if they were going to play another set but they said they wish they could. I look back and the roadies are tearing apart the stage. It seems that NPS cut it short so they wouldn’t have to pay the help overtime. Very disappointing.

We went to an English pub in town with the Sbragias and the Garzas and had a nightcap. We talked ,laughed, and had a general good time. I was a bit surprised that no one offered to buy us drinks which is usually the case when we are in our blues at a bar. But we enjoyed talking and laughing among ourselves and I wouldn’t have wanted the night to turn out any different. They are all really wonderful people and we all enjoyed each others’ company.

Friday, November 08, 2002
Yesterday NPS had a Superintendent Guest Lecture (SGL) and the speaker was James Webb. The former Secretary of the Navy resigned over a matter of principle (they wouldn’t give him a 600 ship Navy) and he’s always been an outspoken, controversial figure. He was a Marine platoon leader in Vietnam where he won a Navy Cross (the second highest award a Marine can get below the Medal of Honor) and wrote about his experiences in the required reading for every Marine lieutenant called Fields of Fire. He has an engineering degree as well as a law degree and has written his 6th novel. Many of his movies are being or have been made into movies and Fields of Fire is next.

After the speech, he went to the Trident Room which is the pub there on NPS to sign books. I was going to bring my copy of Fields of Fire. but when I opened it up that morning, a third of it fell out. It was so hard to find when I was looking for it years ago that I had to resort to finding it in a used book store for $1.25. I thought it better to bring my copy of one of his other books.

When I came to the table and introduced myself, I asked him who they had slated to play him in the new movie. He said they were still working that out but two of the other main characters were being cast and they had offers out to, of all people, Eminem, and Vin Diesel. I thought it an odd choice to work with since I think Eminem is a punk but that’s what the role calls for and word is that he does a pretty good job in his first movie. But the thought of this hero being exposed to such an honorable and upstanding hero seems out of place. Hollywood, go figure.

We talked for a few moments and he had his pen at the ready to sign my book and asked me my first name and I couldn’t help myself. I said “Captain.” He did a double take and then we both laughed. It’s an old joke but what the hell. I asked him to sign it to Jason right after and my buddies just rolled their eyes when I told them.

Thursday, November 07, 2002
People asked me “How was your birthday?” and my first response was “It sucked!” You see, on Wednesday, the day after my birthday, I had a huge take-home midterm due that took me over 6 hours and 9 pages to complete. (BTW, satellite systems ARE as hard as they are reputed to be). Of course, I have received the test the prior Friday and true to form, waited too long but that’s beside the point.

Also on Wednesday, I had a midterm in software management at 1000 and a midterm on C++ programming at 1100. Therefore on my birthday, I went to school, went to the kids’ parent-teacher meetings, tested at home for over 6 hours, and stayed up late studying for the other two tests the next day. Plus, I HAD to watch the first half of Monday Night Football (non-negotiable) and Boston Public (also non-negotiable). Because it was my birthday, I had people calling me and I had to graciously let the machine filed the calls, except for my brother who got through and we talked.

That night when I tucked the kids in, they asked me how my birthday was and in my explanation (putting the required good spin on it for the little ones) I realized it WAS a good day. I told them that I got the best present I could receive by hearing from each of their teachers that they were model students, straight A’s, and above the 90th percentile in all areas. I got two Sarah McLachlan CDs from the kids that I’ve wanted for a long time. I got a banana cream pie from Carrie and calls from my brother, father, Carrie’s parents, Carrie’s brother, Carrie’s sister, and an old friend. I got cards from Carrie’s parents and two of her brothers with gift certificates from Amazon.com. In the messages, I got “Happy Birthday” sung to me by my father and by Scott and my only niece.

Recounting all of this, I realized that I have so much to be thankful for and nothing could spoil a day with so much love and thoughtfulness coming my way. I only pray all of my future birthdays are as good as this one.

Tuesday, November 05, 2002
Last night I had a long conversation with Carrie and we talked about the kids’ education. We are both unhappy with the school our kids attend due to a variety of reasons. The classes are too large and a disproportionate amount of time is spent with the “problem” children. Also, all the support staff has been cut so not only do the kids not get the benefit of music teachers, PE teachers, art teachers, computer lab teachers, librarians, etc., but the teachers that are left are over-burdened trying to pick up the slack. Alex’s situation is particularly troubling because he stresses over school and is not performing to his potential.

I’ve always been taught that if you can do something better yourself, make it happen. And what better cause than my own kids’ education so for these reasons, we have opened the possibility of home schooling. We have friends that do it and I will be looking into it by asking them all about it. I have no doubt that we can give them an educational experience superior to that of the California public school system but I worry about the social aspects. Kids learn social interaction as much as academics when they attend school and I think that’s an important aspect of their learning. Maybe with church involvement, sports, and more effort on our part to get them exposed to their friends, we can improve that also. We have no doubt that this will put a huge responsibility on our shoulders but for the kids, I’m willing to put in that effort. The prospect of me teaching the kids, assigning them work, grading the work, and testing them myself is exciting to me and Carrie is willing to put her education on hold to achieve this for them. We are both excited about it but also know it will take hard work, commitment, and patience.

Today is my 34th birthday and I’ve decided to start a running streak. No, this doesn’t mean that I will be running naked (wouldn’t that be a scary sight?). It means that I will run every day for at least a year. The rule is that I must run at least 3 miles to count and the pace is irrelevant. Wish me luck, especially after the marathons!!!
Friday, November 01, 2002
It was a sad day for me yesterday when I found out that Jam Master J was killed. I read it at school and it saddened me because I used to listen to Run DMC as a teenager and really enjoyed their music. I had a tape that had Raising Hell on one side and the Beastie Boys’ License To Ill on the other. For months that is all I listened to until the tape finally broke.

For people that know me know and especially Marines under me would be surprised that I once listened to such music because of the comparable straight laced life I lead now. But that was a difficult time in my life and that music satisfied my rebellious period. While the driving beats and loud rapping had a definite hook, I always liked that they were positive, promoted education and self-improvement. In fact, I was drawn to the music by the contagious beats but I really started liking them when I listened to the lyrics and how they sang about “Dumb Girl” who had no self respect. “Perfection” was another great message. They were anti-drug and the lyrics were clean which I really respected in an age of 2 Live Crew and the like so the loss of Jam Master J was depressing.

I have to admit, though, that listened to the Beastie Boys simply for the rebellious nature and the comical ways they put their songs together. Luckily, I did not follow the path they preached as a way of life. It was simply fun.

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