Jason's BLOG pages



Jason Grose's BLOG

December 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.

Tuesday, December 31, 2002 (extra entry)

Impressions of Hawaii. I’ve never been accused of having an overly-open mind and true to form, I brought that to Hawaii. It occurred to me that Hawaii is an American state. Please, someone correct me if this is not the case but it’s something I picked up in grade school. I will admit if I’m wrong but I have an inkling that I nailed this tiny factoid.

Next link in my logic, as an American state, it should, you know, accept the fact. I was told before I came here that the locals aren’t so hot about us mainlanders coming to “their” island. Seems they have no problem accepting the green paper that we bring but the attitude that I detect is subdued hostility.

Carrie, of course, thinks I’m a putz. I am, but that doesn’t negate the fact that Hawaii is an American state. Let me repeat this fact in the vain attempt to pass the word. Hawaii is an American state.

A few random observations:

The Hawaiian language has all 5 vowels, and about 3 consonants. That’s it. Plus, they like to put about 14 vowels together (sometimes separated by an apostrophe). The letter “K” seems to be quite popular. I think it’s just a conspiracy to piss us mainlanders off.

This may be obvious but Hawaii has a cubic butt-ton of different vegetation per square inch. It’s amazing.

True Hawaiian pineapples bear very little resemblance, taste-wise, with canned pineapple. Also, eating a whole pineapple will give you very painful canker sores. Again, I suspect this is a ploy by the locals to torture us non-islanders.

There are three highways on this island. There are 1.4 billion cars. Half of those are rusted hulks sitting in the front yard of the shacks that pass for homes for the locals.

Clothes dryers are technology that has somehow avoided this island. Every house has laundry hanging everywhere which provides that upscale décor.

There are three levels of society here:

- super-crazy poor
- military
- super-crazy rich

I’ve heard people say that Hawaii is a good place to vacation but not a great place to live. These people are commonly known as “nuts.”

Tuesday, December 31, 2002

A large wooden plank swung hard, slapping my back with a very loud “SMACK!”

That’s what it was like yesterday when I visited the North Shore. On my first full day in Hawaii, we thought it would be fun to visit some waves. Actually my son Alex would’ve held us at gunpoint if we didn’t get to a shore, toot sweet. So we made our way to North Shore where the forecast told us to expect waves 2-3 feet high. Obviously, in Hawaii they translate the metric of “feet” to mean “stories” because holy moly.

Once we got to the beach, the kids evaporated, leaving us to haul all of the equipment to the beach. But they were so excited to be there, we’d have an easier time stopping the waves that holding them back. They were in the water before we were even set up. I, being the reserved chicken that I am, stayed on the beach watching the kids for about a half hour before venturing out into the surf. The water was a bit cold at first but it took no time to get used to the amazingly blue water. I walk about ten feet and see a monster wave forming. No problem, I thought. I’ll just turn my back and let it wash over me.

This is about the time that the Pacific Ocean decided to announce just who was in charge. Refer to the first sentence in this entry.

After being b$%$ slapped by the wave, it decided to drag me under and roll me around in the sand, polishing me like a rough stone. Unfortunately my skin didn’t fare well in the attempt. Slapped, raw, sand-blasted skin. Does it get it better than this? Hope the rest of the day goes as well.

Actually, it did. We had a blast for two hours and the waves just got bigger. At one point, Carrie started being, you know, a responsible parent and wanted to kids out of the water as the ground vibrated from the force of the waves. I, on the other hand, thought it prudent to drag them out into the crash zone and see what Mother Nature had to offer. I found out several times.

There is a difference of about a foot between body surfing a wave cleanly and getting a saltwater enema. If you on the happy side of this line, you ride on the top of the wave and get going pretty fast as the force crashes to the shore. The feeling is pretty exhilarating.

On the other hand, I found myself on the other side of said line more often than not. You see, the ying to this yang is being just a little too far forward and you get the same initial surge from the wave which lifts you about 10 feet above the ground. As you peak, all the water below you just disappears and you are suddenly like the coyote in the Road Runner cartoon as he realizes there is nothing below him.

So you drop like a stone into the rumbling surf where you had better have your hands in front of you. Just about the time you slam into the sand, the full force of the crash zone collapses on top of you and you and yanked every which way (normally of the painful variety). You find yourself about 30 feet from your original location as you sit up coughing up saltwater and sand that decided to explore every orifice in your body. Just as you recover enough to realize that you are still among the living, the follow-on wave greets you with a white water hello, replacing any sand and saltwater you managed to remove from you nasal passages up to that point.

Carrie just simply laughed her butt off on shore. When I had Steph with me though, her tune changed and her concern level shot up. After one of these episodes, I had experienced enough as the both of us tumbled across the shore. As a final souvenir, I thought I had a cramp in my calf which felt amazingly like the worst pain I’ve ever endured as I was scraping across the sand. Now, I theorize that I kicked it with the heel of my other foot because a day later, it still hurts like hell. It’s true what they say: the fun isn’t official until someone gets bludgeoned.

Monday, December 30, 2002

Professional football. Well, almost; I went to see the Seahawks while in Seattle but the game qualifies since they played Saint Louis. Weird thing was that the Seagals actually won which was a great event for my first time in the new stadium.

A couple of observations: I went with my brother and his roommate to a pre-game tailgate party near the stadium called Seahawk Alley. What it actually should be called is “The Gauntlet Where Drunken Retards Scream At Passers By.” How I came to be party to this group is beyond me but it involves accepting an invitation from my brother to go to the game.

My brother means well and it was nice of him to invite me to a game. We had attended many a Mariner game at the Kingdome together since we were kids and I know it meant a lot to the both of us to go to the stadium for the first time (on top of the very site the Kingdome once stood) together.

We found the spot where we were to meet “a friend of a friend” which is always a recipe for fun. These buddies were pretty well lit by the time we arrived and stood around in the cold for a couple of hours while listening to these drunken morons scream at passing fans. At first it was just the opposing team colors that drew their wrath but soon it was everyone. I’m not saying some of the things weren’t funny: “Hey, nice haircut, life partner!” or “What’s up, Sam Elliott?” (to a skinny guy with long hair, mustache, and tight blue jeans). There was the “lucky guy” chant that burst out when a man walked by with an attractive women at his side. Also, calls of child abuse when a kid with opposing team colors passed by but the most obnoxious part was the “in-your-face” boos that they screamed while bits of hotdog and mists of beer followed their rude yelling. It just went to show me that there are still dumb people walking this Earth and that a portion of the population has no more to do on a Sunday morning than to get drunk and yell at bystanders. Maybe I was a stick in the mud but I can think of better things to do with my time.

Next came the ticket buying. With the Seahawks, you don’t have to really work that hard at getting tickets and if you show up early enough, you might even get a chance to suit up (not really, but a sell out was not on the risk meter.) Per my brother’s modem operendi, we dived into the world of scalpers. A rather crude group of men who wander around the front of the stadium holding up $18 tickets that they want $40 for. This is of course illegal but the men selling them hardly look like they take legal considerations to heart when doing their “bidness.”

You would think that a white military type in his mid thirties would have little in common with Jo Jo the Ticket Scalper but for some reason, if you give them even the tiniest hint that you are interested in their wares, you are their closest “homie.” Suddenly you are in their posse and closer bonds were never formed.

Personally, I wanted nothing to do with this and it was up to my brother to make the decision and the transaction. That was the plan until my brother’s walnut of a bladder kicked in and he left us with one of these model citizens to mull over the details. I could see it in the “good” eye of this man that I was a sheep ready for sheering. I stalled him until my brother returned, failing to commit to anything. Chris took a look at the tickets and confirmed that they were good seats. The transaction (or raping, if you must know) was completed and we had our $18/$40 tickets in hand. Funny, Jo Jo disappeared like a mist when we finished. Seems our friendship was only a temporary arrangement. Sometimes a lone tear traces a line down my cheek when I think about what we had together…

If you are following my little story here, you likely know what’s coming next. They say that in the new stadium, there are no bad seats. I beg to differ. These “boss seats” ended up being up with the pigeons which made the $40 price tag even more of a joke. With a few beers under his belt, my brother thought nothing of it to grab some seats much nearer to the field right behind a major walkway, thus we were able to enjoy the pleasure of wondering if we were going to be ousted at any minute. What joy.

Other than the cold that slowly crept into every crevice of my clothing and the fact that my brother consumed beer after beer, the game wasn’t too bad. The Hawks actually won even though they had trouble making it into the end zone once they entered the red zone. They had a lot of filed goals but three points at a shot really adds up.

Not being a huge sports fan, I’m content to sit there quietly and cheer during the appropriate times. My brother, God love him, tends to yell whatever’s on his mind at the moment, appropriate or otherwise. Add the alcohol factor in and you have the bozo just short of painting his body with the team colors (which I will add, did occur. The idiot was painted rather poorly with splotches of blue paint, was obviously very drunk, and needed to shed about 30 or 40 pounds. Because it was damn cold, you can imagine just how many times the stale joke about bare skin, coldness, and blue paint that might or might not be there was voiced.). My brother would stand up and yell instructions to the quarterback, inform them that they will not be making a touchdown because they suck, and generally pass rather disparaging remarks. Meanwhile I sat there wondering how 15 minutes on the scoreboard can drag out so far.

By the time it was over, I was cold and ready to hit the road. The alcohol had taken its toll on my brother and he was somewhat dislodged from his normal personality. As we left, he felt it appropriate to yell “BOOOOO!” to the lady wearing the losing team’s colors which made for an awkward situation since we were at a standstill in the line to leave. Ever want to crawl into your own clothes and disappear for awhile?

But overall, the game was worth going to. The time with my brother (save the end when he was toasted) was exciting and we had a great time. The lesson I learned was that I either lost the ability to let my hair down and have a good time or have a knack for finding myself around people I have little in common with. Oh well, new stadium: check in the box.

Sunday, December 29, 2002

Currently, I’m sitting in the USO at Travis AFB waiting for a MAC flight to Hawaii. The set up they have for space available seating is a little like that Chinese Water Torture and I can describe it with a degree of levity due to the fact that we made it as the last 4 passengers (much to the combined chagrin of the others waiting).

Here’s how it works: once you get your leave papers, you fax them to the base and your category is based on when you took leave and when you faxed them. I took leave on the 16th but because I’m an idiot, I didn’t get them faxed until the 18th (as my wife so tenderly pointed out when things got tight in line). You have to assume you made it and make some commitments like waking up early, driving the 2 hours to get to the terminal, put your car in long term parking and pay for the cab ride back, but nothing is guaranteed.

At 1000 they make everyone line up and the torture begins. First the airman announces that there are 32 seats available. Next, he calls forward anyone on emergency leave, on orders, an “environmental leave” which I translate as that leave that you coax your admin into putting on your orders in order to get a better chance at a MAC flight. Luckily, no one fit into these categories so he went on to call forward regular leave but they go by the time on the check in sheet which is based on when you faxed (another dark stare from the missus).

They call a date and a time and then ask if anyone has a date/time BEFORE this one (picking up the stragglers). This tells the person with that date/time on their sheet that they are likely next. The first one they called out was a full two weeks before mine so I naturally shat my drawers.

The guy came up and checked in. Then, in a tortuous business-like tone, the airman calls out the next date/time. This goes on and on as the rest of us look at each other with utter disdain. Any one of us would claw each others eyes out for a seat and the hate is palpable. There are a lot of people in the terminal and only 32 seats. Everyone has a pink slip with their date/time on it and asking anyone else what they have is akin to asking another man how long his schlong is in the public bathroom.

Not that it matters. All this is purely for the pleasure of the airmen present to watch us squirm because it’s all predetermined who will make it and who won’t. And squirm we did.

They finally called my date and the jolt of pleasure was instantly replaced with anger when the time they called out was 0100. Mine was about 2200. Still not out of the fire. Painfully, there were two other times called before mine but even though it looked good for us (only a dozen or so people had gone up to the counter) the stress continued. Finally, we were called and as we approached the counter, I could feel the mental spears jabbing at me as I walked through the gauntlet that was the waiting passengers. A minute earlier, I would have joined their web of hate but walking up there, all I could think was “Suckers!!!” What an ass I am.

When we got to the counter, the airman got on the phone and was mumbling something as he looked at the monitor I couldn’t see in front of him. Was the Gestapo going to rush in and grab me for a long-overdue library book or something?

Actually, what happened next was pretty shocking. He keyed the microphone and proceeded to inform the rest of the waiting passengers that the boarding for that flight was now closed. We got the last 4 seats which made my walk of privilege that much more sweet. Again, an ass.

I was a bit confused over this because there was but a dozen people in front of us. We later found out that the person in front of us had about 15 people with him so we never knew how close we came to not getting on until we already had our seats. Whew!!!

Saturday, December 28, 2002

I was told an interesting story today from my brother.

It seems he was driving down the road (he delivers and picks up traffic equipment such as cones and signs for road work and such) near Seattle when he came upon the scene of a head-on collision that had just occurred. As he drove up, he saw a woman and her two children milling around the wreckage so he slowed down and asked them if everyone was OK. They said that they were but the two men who crashed into them took off running.

My brother then drove down the road and saw the two teens running up the steep hill. He drove his truck along side them and informed them they were NOT going to get away from him. He then sped up a few hundred feet, parked his delivery truck sideways on the road, and got out.

At this point I must explain that I represent the sum total of what my parents had left after they created my brother. I am about 180 pounds and 5’ 11”. On the other hand, Chris is about 6’ 3” and about 230 lbs. What’s more, my brother has abnormal strength even for a man his size and we won’t even get into his temper. Suffice it to say that he’s as strong as an ox, oblivious to pain in a fight, and uncontrollable in a rage.

As the two teens approached him, his plan was to grab one and take out the other with one punch. As planned, he grabbed one and took a round house punch at the other but missed. The terrified boy ran and Chris had no choice but to let him go. In hindsight, he said he considered cold-cocking the one he had and then running after the other but he was afraid he might permanently injure (likely kill) him. He also thought about finding some rope or locking him in the back of the delivery truck but in the end, he decided to just take care of the one he caught.

The first thing Chris does to this kid is to throw his sorry butt down to the ground like a bag of laundry. 230 pounds versus a buck and a half. This phase was done most ricki tik. Then the 16-year old Puerto Rican teen received the joy of my brother’s knee dug into the back of his neck, just to make sure there was no questions about who was in charge at the moment. But true to form, the dumb kid continues to struggle so he gets the additional bonus of a few hard punches to the back. The last person that was in this position with my brother went to the hospital in an ambulance (a high school fight back in 1986).

You would think that this kid would get it by now but he continued to struggle, telling my brother to let him go and that he wasn’t even driving. Chris tells him he don’t care and that they had hit a family with kids.

Chris then pulls out his cell phone and calls 911, telling them to send an ambulance, a fire truck, and a bunch of cops. The operator confirms that the car they were in was stolen and instructs Chris to make sure the kid is not armed (which he was not). In the process, the kid struggles again so Chris grabs the kid’s arm, twists it behind him, and then politely informs the delinquent that if he moves again, “I’ll bust your F%#$ arm right the f&*% OFF!”

After a short time, the cops show but not before the kid gives one more struggle to which my brother responds by slipping his arm around the kids neck in a headlock. Believe me when I say from experience that a headlock from my brother is much like receiving a cement collar. Once again, Chris tells the kid that if he struggles, he will choke him until he either dies or loses consciousness and that he really couldn’t give a $%&* which came first.

The cops show up and take the kid away and then ask Chris where the other one went. He says he ran off and gave a description. The kid was eventually caught.

Chris then went back to the scene and directed traffic until the tow truck showed up and was no longer needed. The husband of the family came up to him and thanked him for his actions. Chris gave him his business card and told him to call him if they need anything such as identifying the other kid.

I’m so very proud of my brother. I described the story to my son and ensured that I described the heroic actions that his Uncle Chris performed. In this day of “don’t get involved” it makes my heart warm that he would do the right thing even at risk to himself. Those kids stole a car and then crashed it head on into a family of four and were then going to just run away, likely never having to atone for their actions. But because my brother did what was right, justice will be served. On this day, Chris was the hero and the good guys triumphed over bad.

Sunday, December 22, 2002

Finally on vacation and sitting down to BLOG.

Quick update: finals got over and I got A’s in all classes which is about as amazing as it gets since, you know, I’m nearing retardation coupled with a serious lack of attendance tgo some (OK, most) of the classes this year. I guess my lack of good testing made an exception this quarter. Take home tests are such a good thing and make up for so much sin over the quarter.

After the finals fiasco, I had a day to just do nothing and did just that. Although I did find it necessary to go out on the hunt (shopping) with Carrie which, in hindsight, was about as intelligent as Seneater Lott’s comments at Strom Thurmon’s 100th birthday party. Someone’s dreaming of a white Christmas. Anyway, the trip to Salinas to visit the local Wal Mart was a poor call. Picture every Mexican in California elbowing through to get two bucks off a lawn Santa. I was there for about 40 minutes and wanted to suck on the business end of a 9 mm.

Ignoring the billions of people, the crying babies, the lost idiots that just stop right in front of you and “space,” and the destroyed merchandise that littered every aisle, the most annoying aspect (and what nearly drove me mad) was the constant dribble emanating over the loud speaker with the same quality as the moon landing audio. Now, in the year 2002, you would think that communications would have evolved past the voice of the Peanuts carton adult voices. I swear, every 5 seconds, the loud speaker would explode with a rude-sounding, stressed, fast-talking idiot yelling for “an associate” to come here or there. And let me take this opportunity to point out, they are NOT “associates.” Call them what they are: employees. Since when did that become such an avoided term? I’ll tell you what I wanted to call them after 10 minutes of almost constant cries for help. Take a lesson from Target and get some personal communication devices for your EMPLOYEES and don’t subject me, the customer, to your public blatherings.

OK, next on the list: the trip to Seattle. What a freakin’ nightmare. OK, maybe I didn’t handle it in the best way but the obstacles we had to overcome so I could sit here and write this in Seattle was staggering.

On Thursday, we decided to leave a day early and packed the truck after my morning run (ouch). We headed up I5 on our blissful way until we got to Shasta Lake about 5 hours later. Then a sign informs us that the highway is closed, detour ahead. So we wait in line for ½ hour to take this “detour” which ends up just turning us around and “detouring” us to southbound I5. This is not a detour, mind you. They just simply shut the major west coast interstate. Sorry, can’t go this way. Oh, and all other roads are closed too but we won’t tell you that. We’ll just “detour” you back the way you came.

After much discussion, we had little choice but to turn around and go back home and try again the next day. So 6 hours later, we end up at home after an entire day of driving and 2 tanks of gas. Thus ends my first day of “vacation.”

Day 2: much like day one but being the smart guy that I am, I check the internet to see if the closure has lifted. The day prior, it showed the closure on the California Transportation website and in the morning it was gone. So what does this mean to me: open road. What does this mean to the CALTRANS: pump Jason like cheap crack whore.

Two and a half hours before we hit the detour, we had a decision to make. We could alter our route if it was closed. But once we continued on, we were stuck with the decision because any other route farther north would be closed too. I called CALTRANS and the recording told me exactly what the website had told me early that morning: no closure on I5. But you can guess the next line in this little ditty. Yes, it was closed and yes, I was fuming.

So now what to do. I wanted to go home but the family wanted to press on. This time, an alternate route was not closed but it took us 300 miles out of our way to go around the closed part of I5. We decide to take it but get stopped right before a pass where we aqre told that snow chains are required. This was a nightmare that I knew would be about equal to being Satan’s toilet cleaner but tried to go into it with a good attitude. That lasted about 30 seconds until I was soaking wet from the falling snow the size of my head.

Next fun item: the chains we had were too small and for the old tires we had for the truck.

Inject: the local hardware store was all too happy to sell me a $60 set.

Withdraw: They were too busy to show me how to install them

Inject: the gas station attendant would do it for an additional $10

Withdraw: It would be a 20 minutes (which turned into an hour) wait.

Deep inject: when we got them on and got back in line to go up the pass, the line was stopped because a semi had bit it and was blocking the road. Time until they got it cleared: unknown.

At this point, the family was more than a little upset and I was a raging maniac. I wanted to just call it a day and go home to spend the holiday in quiet, restful peace. The family on the other had refused to see the signs from God himself that this was all a bad plan. Two days of useless driving in rain and snow, 4 tanks of gas, 2 sets of chains, $60 in chains and another $10 from installation, being turned away from I5 twice (once undocumented by CALTRANS) and now a blocked pass by a wrecked semi. A path, I might add, that put us 300 miles out of our way, more for gas, putting us in at 0500 in the morning instead of 2300 at night, or forcing us to pay even more money for a hotel room and an extra day off our “vacation.”

But after the mass crying, I was rendered useless. I was stuck. I had to do the honorable Dad thing and get them past these obstacles and get them to Seattle. I was not too happy about this and was trading my sanity for their happiness. Little did I know, our troubles were just beginning and made what we had just gone through seem like a hitting the Super Lotto!After getting the chains on, we got back in line to enter the pass. But alas, the line not moveth. We sat there for what seemed like forever before a poor policeman walked from vehicle to vehicle to tell us that a semi had wrecked and blocked the path. He had no idea when it would be clear; could be 10 minutes or an hour.

So we sat there for an hour and a half pondering our fate and luck. I was still mad as it gets and everyone else was a little nervous and the bubbling volcano that was driving. We had another “discussion” about our next course of action and again, the tears won out. But just about I was about to call it a day, mere minutes before I was really going to turn around and head back to Monterey for the holidays, they started letting traffic through.

We enter the pass and for the first 5 miles, all was fine. But then the snow really started coming down so we were going about 20 miles per hour. The chains made a horrible sound and it sounded like some kind of horror movie and we chugged along the snow-covered highway. Suddenly, we begin to slide front left as I crank the wheels right. But the effort was for not because we were not in control at that moment and had to watch a cement barricade come toward us in slow motion. We were going about 10 miles per hour so it was not as scary as going full speed but when you crank your wheel and nothing happens, the butt cheeks tend to suck up material pretty fast.

Luckily, the slow speed and the fact that the tires were pointed perpendicular to the direction we were sliding, the snow was shoved in front of us and it built up its own cushion. It compacted to a point that we never really hit the cement but just came to a stop. With my heart beating like a drum, I cranked the wheels and just got back on the road, a lot slower than before.

We got through the pass, rather slowly but we had little company. In fact they might have closed it down shortly after we got through because it got dark and no headlights were behind me. This doesn’t surprise me because the conditions were horrible; the snowflakes were monstrous and the road was a series of tight turns, switchbacks, and steep downgrades. When the snow let up, the rain would replace it. All in all, it was a horrendous 140 miles to travel. It looked like we were in a tunnel with a tube of snow flakes coming at us. The only thing I could see was the 1/10 mile markers to give me a clued if I was on the road. Needless to say, we all drove in utter silence for a few hours.

After we made it through there, we got on 101 and that gave us a little break. At least the road was somewhat straight but the rain continued to come down in buckets. But after a few hours, we had to get back on 199 (a little mountain road similar to the one we took before 101) and cut back over to I5. We got this advice from the policeman that pulled Carrie over for going too fast. I was in the backseat and she starts arguing with him over her speed. I chastised her over it after he left by pointing out that you don’t argue with the policeman who pulled you over. What did she expect him to say after she says that the people in front of her were going way faster than she was; “Oh, yes, I guess you’re right. Thank you for pointing that out to me and you are completely right. What was I thinking? I have to go and catch up to them because you are right, they were going faster than you and for some odd reason I pulled YOU over but now that you set that straight, I must go get them.”

Somehow, he let us go with a warning, probably because of our pathetic faces and the fact that we had already been through travel Hell that day (he guessed we got cut off from I5 and were trying to make it around).

We hit Grant’s Pass at about 9:00 at night where we met I5 again. Then it was just a straight shot up through Oregon and then into Washington. Carrie decides to take a caffeine pill to stay awake and since she has such a pristine system, not used to any stimulants, it hit her like rocket fuel. She drove from 2300 until 0345 and was willing to go on until I told her that I was driving the rest of the way. She’d be a really bad junkie.

We made it to my brother’s house at about 0530 and got to sleep around 0600. For all the marathon driving sessions and maniac moods, we made it home for Christmas. The worst was over and all I had to do was regret my reaction to the whole affair and the fact that I was so willing to give up. Not a normal trait of mine but I must admit, I handled it badly. Carrie was just glad we got home and was willing to forgive even such heinous behavior. I decided to chalk it up to my idiocy and try to do better next time. Patience, Grasshopper, and have faith. Relax, enjoy the holidays, and go with the flow.

Thursday, December 12, 2002

Ahh, what a day. Nothing like a final to show you just how dense you are or how much you can actually learn in one night. This one had a twist due to the fact that I took it with my laptop and emailed it to the professor after I was done. I love technology!!!

But before all that, I went to the last C++ class where we went over the final I took yesterday. Due to dumb mistakes and my knack for choking on tests, I got a 88% which gave me a 95% for the class. Not bad but the reason I went was simply because I enjoyed the class so much and wanted to “put it to bed” formally. I have to thank Scott Cote for another wonderful class and for being the best teacher I’ve had at NPS.

I should have started studying for my midterm on Monday or even done a little of the take-home final for space but instead, I got back to my Flash work. I decided that a better approach would be to make a short, simple cartoon talking about the ups and downs of learning how to make Flash cartoons. I decided to take my cue from Odd Todd and mimic his voice and speech patterns (since they really make me laugh) and thought that his style of cartoons would be a good intro to learning the basics while making progress. OK, I simply pilfered his style but I wanted to get something started!!!! Imitation is the best flattery, right?

So I took a few hours and wrote out a script and recorded the dialogue onto my computer. The humor is in the unpolished manner so it wasn’t to hard to get it down. The humor will be the sound effects and simple animation gags. If it goes as fast as the recordings went, I should be done in a couple of days, maybe even before I head to Seattle next week. Wish me luck.

Tomorrow I have an appointment with another student who has info about my potential thesis. After that, I’m meeting with the professor so hopefully I will have a warm fuzzy about my thesis tomorrow night.

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Wow, two days in a row hitting the BLOG. What a wonderful thing procrastination from studying for a final can be.

And I bailed on the www.blogger.com. Seems their service is about as good as the price: free. And the amount of time it took me to migrate the BLOG entries and create archives makes me think I made the right move. Now I have full control over the entries. That’s what you get when you outsource what you should have been doing yourself!!!

I couldn’t get to sleep last night so I was channel surfing when I came across channel 18 and what was staring me in the face but a TV screen full of boobs. Yes, folks, I’m not sugarcoating it for you, there were big, round boobs beaming out of the TV last night and my confusion factor peaked (insert your own joke here).

Turns out that it was a free Showtime offer thing. I thought it might have been some public access thing where anyone can buy the time and show anything they want. In 29 Palms, there were these channels and this fat naked chick regularly took advantage of this fact and was often seen doing some really disgusting, drug-induced gyrations and close-ups of her greasy, pitted face. It was rather disturbing.

Anyway, the movie last night was some B movie about some ladies held captive in some middle eastern jail. It was just about as bad as it gets and a loose excuse to show boobs. I don’t know what’s sadder, the acting or the fact that I got sucked into it for the level of lameness it possessed. Boobs or no boobs, the level of bad acting was intoxicating.

So I paid for it when I got up this morning. I skipped the morning run (don’t worry, I made it up later to keep the streak going since Nov 4th) and went in early to study for my C++ final (which sucked, since you asked). I’m about as good at taking tests as I am at explaining nuclear physics to 8 year olds. The lesson here is boobs are evil.

I helped my son study for a test yesterday. He had to memorize the 13 original colonies, both location on a map and spelling. My geography is about as good as the aforementioned test-taking and nuclear physics explanations so it was a little bit of a challenge for me. I learned that Connecticut is a funky spelling. He aced the test today. Me? I think I MAY be able to get most of them. Man, I suck at geography!!!

I’ve had an unhealthy interest in OddTodd lately. For those of you that don’t know, OddTodd is a guy who got fired from MCI and started a website dedicated to his existence as an unemployed slacker. He made some Flash cartoons that are simply the funniest things I’ve seen on the web to date. They are what got me interested in my Semper Flashback project which has stalled a bit. Anyway, go check out www.oddtodd.com RIGHT NOW!! You will thank me later.

I introduced them to Dan and Will at my lab at school and now they’re hooked. Just go there and you’ll see.

I think my heightened interest is related to me end-of-the-quarter procrastination/burnout activities. Just a few more tests and I’ll be free as a bird. I’m aching to read a book I bought called Masters of Deception about hackers. It sits there and mocks me. Maybe I’ll jumpstart my Semper Flashback aspirations and do a little education on Adobe’s Premiere video editing software. Maybe I’ll solve world hunger while I’m at it…

Tuesday, December 10, 2002
You know, Iím getting a bit tired of apologizing for my lag times between BLOG entries. So I will proudly stand up and scream to the world : EAT ME. OK, maybe that was a bit rude but starting off an entry after such a long hiatus was getting monotonous.

So do I try to catch up or just start fresh? Nah Ö how about some tidbits of things that I wanted to write about:

Watching Monday Night Football, I got bored because the Bears were getting sodomized by the Dolphins and two things came out of it for me:

1. Do you think a dolphin could beat the crap out of a real bear? I concluded it would depend on home field advantage. Old Flipper would probably ram a bear in the nads if he wandered into the ocean. But a beached dolphin would be a smorgasbord for a bear on land. Just a passing thought.

2. Football players really look weird when their helmets come flying off in the middle of a play. I mean, suddenly thereís just a regular Joe jumping around in there. Weird. I laughed aloud until I realized he makes more sitting on the crapper than I make in a year.

Speaking of sodomy, the thesis for TBS fell through when they decided, well, forget supporting those NPS guys. Never mind that they led us to believe we had a thesis for the last 6 months and that we never paid much attention to other opportunities. Or that all the professors have been snatched up as advisors and we have to start new 9 months before graduation. Thanks and next time buy me flowers and whisper something sweet in my ear.

You say that I should have had a back up? I agree. I did. It fell through almost simultaneously when Manpower basically told us it was cheaper to hire a contractor to build the optimization program we offered. Hey, are you done back there? Whereís my underwear?

But not all is lost. TBS came back and scoped down to project from three people to two and guess who was the odd man out? His name rhymes with Captain Jason Donald Grose. But I found a possible thesis involving the Navy Promotion Board procedures. I will forego explanation until it solidifies a bit more because Iím tired of the embarrassment of going through the description only to have it evaporate like the others.

Today is my brotherís 36th birthday which means Iím getting older, too. But at least weíre old enough to stop things like convincing me to get on all fours and moo like a cow at which point he turns around and rips a juicy fart in my face (actual childhood memory). As I think of that, it pisses me off. Chris, you bastard dick!!! Happy birthday.

Iíve spent the last week configuring the new laptop I received from MWR for creating their webpage. The total amount of actual webpage design Iíve accomplished adds up to Ö ziltch. Iíve been waiting for the school to provide some templates but they are still stalling. I got finals so Iíll have to do some work on it over the break.

Anyway, back to configuring. This is the deal, I got Windows XP and Office XP which means I have to go through the whole set up thing, plus updates, etc. etc. Now it would seem to be an easy thing, being that Iím such a Merlin with the Microsoft products but Ö no. Itís taking an inordinate long time because for some reason, Microsoft feels the need to move functions around and completely change the set up of what it took me years to conquer. I know, I know, change is good but damn frustrating. Take for example:

Iím going through the throws of setting up my email in Windows XP and Office XP. One of the functionalities that I enjoyed with 2000 was the ability to only download messages smaller than 100K. It would tell me when someone sent something larger without actually downloading it (clogging my dial up) and I had to choice to go online with webmail and decide if I wanted to download it or not.

Like most ďupgradesĒ they took away this ability and replaced it with some confusing setting of letting you download the headers larger than a certain amount. When I set it, I got the header alright but when I tried to open it, it gave me some rubbish about not being able to display it and that it was trashing all headers. Then it was gone and didnít even reside in the trash file. I looked online and there was nothing. Curse you, Bill Gates!!!

The other cool thing thatís happened is that a friend of mine sent me the Adobe Premiere software. Itís video editing on crack!! I was looking for a way to archive and webbify my home movies (donít worry, I donít have the online storage to bore you with my home movies). But when I opened the software, it looked like the control panel for the space shuttle. After screaming like a little girl, I decided that reading the userís manual was a necessity. I had to find it online and finally did. Itís 408 pages. Once again, my ass has ďInsert HereĒ written all over it. I canít even figure out how to transfer my video into the computer. Iíll use that unlimited futuristic time slot to figure all this out.

Speaking of finding stuff on the web, I tried for over an hour to find a pic, drawing, anything of a pilgrim boy for my sonís Thanksgiving project. I can find out how to make a meth lab or homemade bomb in like seconds but try to find a pilgrim boy and suddenly itís like Iím having to break into NORADís restricted files. More often than I like to admit, Iím confounded by such situations.

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