Jason's BLOG pages

 
 

 


Jason Grose's BLOG

February 2003

 

 

 


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, February 26, 2003

I swear I’m not making this up.

A friend and neighbor of mine just graduated the Naval Postgraduate School got stationed in Georgia (where I assume he doubled the Mexican population). Our kids were best friends and Alex received an email from him with the following unedited line (remember, they’re in Georgia now):

“I got a bow and some arrows for Christmas and we just set up a target. My friend that's younger than me got a real gun for Christmas and my mom said I can't get one till I’m out of the house. That’s okay because I don't need one anyway.”

BTW, he's 10 years old.

As much as I'm for education, I think bestowing working firearms to 10 year olds is, well, what's the phrase… freaking insane! I like to call it investing in future of our penal system. I have many friends that are from the South and I try to dispel the stereotypes every chance I get but these kind of situations make it tough. Come on, fellas, help me out over here!

“Mebbe fur Christmas wull getcha dat gurnaid lawncher, boy…”


Tuesday, February 25, 2003

My damn dog is prejudice. I’m embarrassed to admit it but I think it’s true.

Last summer at a soccer game, a little black boy came up behind him and he growled and snapped at him. This was a total surprise because he’s always been the most friendly dog I’d ever seen (a popular statement after a dog mauling, I know). Maybe the kid startled him but we noticed that any time a black kid came near him, he would growl.

Tonight, I went to a friend’s house and decided to take Buster along. We were talking on the porch and his wife came out and saw Buster. When she bent down to pet him, he pulled back a bit and growled. I was floored. I had to admit to them that he was prejudice.

My wife and I think that his prior owners might have been black and we’re pretty sure he was abused. We’ve never abused him once but anytime my voice get louder (usually when my computer and I are not in agreement), he cowers until I come out and tell him it’s OK. Also, he tends to flinch if you make sudden movements to him, as though we beat him regularly (the “Leave It To Beaver” syndrome: they never beat them but were always afraid Dad was going to go medieval on them). This would explain why he might associate abuse with black people. It’s just a theory but whatever it is, he has issues with both abuse and people of color.

So how do I remedy this? I told Dan I was going to give him some sensitivity lectures and present my equal opportunity class I give to my Marines. That should snap him out of it. Dan said I should paint my face black for a week. I told him that the Al Jolson routine would probably be hard to explain to the neighbors.

But if he starts bringing home Arian recruitment literature, I’m putting my foot down!


Monday, February 24, 2003

Today was so cool because I heard from my Flash mentor: OddTodd himself. Yes, I got a response from the man himself and I’m proud to announce that he liked the cartoons and will be posting a link to them on his page tomorrow. YES!!!

I spent the entire weekend making the follow up to my first Flash Burns cartoon. I learned how to put a preloader (the little status cartoon as it loads) and made an ending menu. I made a couple of scenes for part 2 and had a lot of fun doing it. It’s tedious and time consuming, but fun when things are progressing. As I learn more, I watch the first one and cringe at the mistakes. I try to just chalk it up to the learning curve but sometimes I HAVE to go back and fix things.

Norah Jones won like ten Grammys yesterday. Is it possible for a 34-year-old man to get a crush? I heard her for the first time a few months ago before she became mega-popular. I happen to catch the video of her “Don’t Know Why” song and couldn’t decide if it was more a treat for my ears or eyes. I mean, I don’t even care for jazz but that voice is really something else. And then the drop dead looks had me standing in front of the TV, jaw wide open like a little boy.
Today, I saw one of the funniest videos online I have ever seen: Terry Tate, Office Linebacker. They are ads put out by Reebok and you have to see them!! I watched them quite a few times and laughed harder each time. It’s streaming video so if you don’t have high speed internet, fugetaboutit!!!

Sunday, February 23, 2003

They’re here. They arrived yesterday and have been calling my name incessantly. I thought I could resist their beckoning but their force was simply too strong. At approximately 2105, my will broke like a dam holding back a flooded river.

In a disgusting display of gluttony, I ate the entire sleeve of Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies. Oh, the horror of this yearly temptation. Each of them, I calculate, is worth about a mile of running so I put myself behind by an entire marathon. Bastard little Disks of the Devil!!!

Worse yet, there are still about 5 boxes left (my daughter was selling them and it looked like she was bombing early on so we signed up for a half dozen boxes. She rallied and sold over 100 boxes). To fight this, I’m thinking of taking on a less destructive vice. I’m thinking heroin.


Wednesday, February 19, 2003

I spent the last couple of days reformatting my desktop computer and reloading everything back on. Yeah, and now all I have to do is get that root canal while subjecting myself to a voluntary prostrate exam to round out the experience. But it worked out in the end (complete the joke at your own pace).

Way back when the Windows OS made sense, I remember you made a boot disk because (fellow geekoids help me out here) you couldn’t reformat your hard drive until you got to the DOS prompt. Not the fake-ass prompt you can get inside the Windows environment but the no kidding, outside of Windows, Old School, bareback DOS command promptoid.

For awhile, they made it easy by letting you chose to reboot to the DOS prompt but this had hidden dangers because once there, you could format the hard drive but alas, there was no way to get back on the system (no OS, remember?) without the boot disk. So then I guess they got smart (or helped us NOT be so dumb) and required a boot disk to get to the DOS prompt, thus ensuring you’d have it to reboot once you scraped your drive clean. But now, to get your hands on a boot disk. You think the computer’s gonna help you pull its own plug? Not a chance.

I had Windows 2000 and wanted to scrape it clean and reinstall the same OS. Much like the junk drawer in my kitchen, the hard drive had accumulated all matter of things until it had scraplets of crap that interfered with its intended use. So a scrapin’ I decided to go. Shave it clean as a babies, but I digress.

Unfortunately for me, I had no boot disk (imagine that). Easy enough because I thought about this BEFORE trying to scrape. But try to find information on the help system about a boot disk for Windows 2000. There were setup disks and emergency disks but were they the same? (your answer might be a resounding “DUH” but I was taking nothing for granted.)

I made the four floppy disks which was strange to be dealing with 1.44 disks again. They seemed so ancient and I vividly remember transitioning from the big floppies to the 1.44 and thinking how sleek and indestructible they seemed. Now it’s like using a book. And only 1.44 MB of storage? – bitch, please.

I made the emergency disk too but before I did any formatting, I wanted to see if I could reboot off the disks. The emergency disk did no good and the setup disks just tried to reload Win2000 on the machine but I couldn’t get to the DOS prompt. Damn it to Hell!

Next thing was to search the web with my laptop. I found some sites and downloaded an executable of “Windows 2000 Boot Disks.” But after suffering through downloading through the hair thin pipe that is my modem, I discovered these were just the same damn 4 disk setup disks I already had. Still no DOS prompt. I was getting dangerously close to a funk.

Another site told me that you could use a Windows 98 boot disk so I downloaded that. Ironically, one of the floppies I reformatted to use as one of the system disks was an old copy of Windows 98 boot disk. Nice shot to the orbs, don’t ya think?

This time it worked and I got to the DOS prompt (applause). Good thing the website also explained the extremely non-intuitive procedure of killing all your partitions using FDISK first and then creating another new partition, rebooting, and then formatting. I would have never thought of that little dance. Thanks Bill Gates, you really know how to stick it to a wannabe geek.

There’s always that moment when you start the reformat when you wonder if you backed everything up and if you’d be able to get the machine back on its electronic feet. But it was too late and the scraping had begun. For better or worse, we were riding this boat to Cairo (is that right? My analogies are getting more lame every day).

Well, everything went smoother than I ever expected. It only cost a lot of time but everything went back on smoothly. I even set up the Outlook accounts and they worked the first time. The “Windows Updates” only took two days to get everything downloaded (let’s hear it for 26.4 modem connections! <fart>)

Now, the machine boots up extremely fast and I’m stunned. Normally, a lot of yelling is involved before it decides to work my way. I guess after all these years either it’s getting a little long in the tooth or my ranting over the years finally broke its spirit.


Monday, February 17, 2003

Here is a response I sent to someone who thought the draft was a good idea for today's "undisciplined" youth.

"I tend to agree about your statement about discipline but have to adamantly disagree with the instituted draft for a variety of reasons. The Corps’ main mission is the win battles. The discipline we receive is a means to that end and a hell of a benefit for the rest of our lives. But what the Corps isn’t is a harsh rehabilitation program. Again, a good side benefit but not the main thrust. Forced enlistments means we’d have to deal with people who didn’t want to be there with all of the attitude that brings. Not that we couldn’t handle it (even the volunteers tend to be a challenge) but then we’d spend more time and energy trying to get our Marines in line (and stay there) rather than training them for battle. Also, this would detract from the good Marines because as we all know, 90% of the leader’s time is spent with the 10% who make trouble. I think we learned that in Vietnam; they are more trouble than what their worth as a group. Yes, there would be a certain amount of converts and statistically, a few that become stellar. But by far, our resources would be dwindled trying to make large numbers of disgruntled people do what they really didn’t want to."


Sunday, February 16, 2003

Let’s cover a couple of articles out of the paper. It’s always a good source for my rants.

Seems this 26 year old man got 30 days in the clink for having sex with a 15 year old girl. The article says that the judge believed the girl had instigated the “oral copulation” but had not made her wishes clear that she didn’t want to have sex.

The girl wanted to dude to fry (which I’d have no problem with) but to provide oral sex and then claiming that, me oh my, I didn’t mean to insinuate that sex was going to be involved is kind of, um, false advertising. Now don’t get me wrong, having sex with 15 year olds is way out of bounds but why not leave it at that? Why do you have to play to innocent card after getting this idiot to agree to the stupidity of underage sex?

It should have been as easy as this:

Did you have sex with her?
Yes.
How old is she?
Fifteen.
See this book? I’m now going to throw it at you.

There should be no “she instigated it” or “I didn’t want to really have sex.” Unless it was forceful rape, there should have been no other discussion.

It occurred to me that this girl couldn’t have waited 3 more years to be a slut. She had to be an early starter and get a jump on the competition.

So I say, stupid girl and even more stupid man. As though his stupidity was not galactically enormous enough, Chester the Molester actually stated that the penetration was accidental.

WHHHHAT? Accidental. So his pants just fell down, he slipped, and his plug fell into her receptor. “Oh, sorry about that.” And this upon getting to his feet, he slipped again, over and over and over and over….

That right there should have doubled his sentence.

Now for 30 days, maybe he’ll be “accidentally penetrated” by Hammer the Butt-Slammer in the local correctional facility. Hey, make sure you inform him you really don’t want to have sex when you’re dusting off your knees, if you get the chance.

Dolly died. No, not Ms. Pardon. The cloned sheep. Seems she got a lung infection and after 6 years of living as the first animal cloned, she was taken down (I wonder if they used the same needle that created her. Kind of has a “full circle” ring to it, don’t ya think?). Now all the scientist are bummed that raised her from a petre dish. Hmmm, getting bummed over a dead sheep they spent a long time with. Maybe a little too long, if you know what I mean.

(Tangent) Isn’t it kind of unfair to sheep as a species that every time we talk about them, we have to attach it to the whole farmer/sheep ungodly union thing? Kind of like Richard Gere and gerbils.

The most amusing part of the article: they listed who she was survived by. Wonder if they wore black to the funeral. (Get it, black sheep… hello?)

Another article showed the new Mattel games coming out. They roll them out at an expo in New York where kids can come out and check them out. Why did this catch my eye? They had a picture of a kid playing this little table top version of the carnival game Skeeball where you roll the wooden balls and try to get them into the rings for points. But instead of rolling wooden balls, the bounce little metal ones on a little trampoline contraption.

It struck me that this isn’t a kid’s game! It’s the quarters drinking game! They’re teaching kids early how to bounce quarters!!

Can you see the staff meeting on this one? Benny from R&D gets hammered the night before his new product idea is due and wakes up all late. He grabs some wrinkled clothes and rushes out the door without even shaving, smelling like a bar floor on the Sunday morning after St Patrick’s Day. He rolls into the meeting 15 minutes late and realizes he has nothing to present…

“Ok, um, we can, like, make this bouncing game thing with quart… er… I mean metal balls and there are rules if you make it….”

Now he has the big corner office with the view while his new underling, Percival, wonders why his “Happy Enema Kit for Kids” idea tanked.


Saturday, February 15, 2003

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day and being the romantic sap I am, I got the missus a dozen roses and took her out to a nice dinner at the Old Del Monte hotel, which just happens to be the admin building at my school, NPS. Oh, and I got the dinner free for helping them with their MWR website. But this didn’t stop us from getting all dolled up and going out for a romantic dinner. Of course, me having all the couth of Jethro, I had my moments.

When we got there, I realized the closest in age to us still had us beat by a trio of decades. In fact, one of them, shuffling out as we entered, seemed impressed that I was wearing a coat and tie. I swear, this lady was Lovey Howell from Gilligan’s Island and had to complain about “how kids dress for dinner these days.” She ended her impromptu rant by exclaiming how she wouldn’t let anyone in with jeans. I bet she’s just a pistol around the mansion. I hope her blue blood didn’t get to pressurized over the situation.

We had a nice dinner, although the clientele reminded me of Thursday’s Costo BLOG entry and it took a glass of wine to wind down a bit.

According to my wife, here is what I learned:

-- the little fork is for the salad.
-- One should not take the grated cheese and soaked grapefruit slice off the salad and onto the bread dish.
-- Ketchup is not a respectable condiment for broiled rib eye with peppercorn sauce

The set up: great. The rose given to Carrie: nice touch. The maitre de name “Crazy Larry” maybe should change his nametag and fix his collar. He came over to the table and tried to engage us in conversation but awkward silence doesn’t go well with dinner. Maybe I’m just some kind of sociopath. Yeah, that’s probably it.

All and all, a good night with the woman I love. We recalled good friends over the years in all the places we have lived. We concluded we’ve been luckier than most to have such a close set of friends wherever we went and that we were luckiest to have each other for the last 16 years. I think I got the better end of the deal but who can account for a woman’s taste?


Friday, February 14, 2003

My 11-year old boy thought that the “Fruit-By-The-Foot” snack was named such because when you unrolled it and held it up, the end was “by your foot.” For those of you not familiar with this snack, it’s pressed fruit and sugar, packaged for kids. To me, it’s like old, mashed fruit but as long as they like it, it’s better than sugar frosted, deep-fried, breaded Crisco balls (sorry Krispy Kreme).

But to be fair, I have to admit that I always thought the old nursery rhyme was “Peach Porridge Hot, Peach Porridge Cold …”

And I’ll throw in that my wife thought that Billy Squire was singing “Stroke Man, Stroke Man…” and the song “Hole Hearted” was belting out “Oh, Donna” instead. (tee hee).


Thursday, February 13, 2003

Love was not in the air today.

It started out simple enough: go and get a card and some flowers for my wife today, thus avoiding the annual last minute rush on Valentine’s Day (yes, a whole day prior is a major accomplishment for a guy). But Cupid decided to bury his arrow some place that’s not usually associated with love.

Before I left, I looked in my wallet without the slightest notion of how much money I had. Ends up two bucks wasn’t gonna cut it so I did what any Dad would do: snagged the 10 spot my mom sent my son for his birthday. Don’t gasp so loud, I planned to return it.

The first indication that things were not going my way was the decision to drive out of my way to the base gas station/mini-mart. The fact that they didn’t have ANY Valentine’s Day cards in their meager card selection on February 13th annoyed me. They weren’t out, mind you. You must have had something in the first place to be “out” of them. So I left, a bit annoyed but still upbeat because I was going to Costco to get some cheap roses.

Costco on a Thursday morning in Seaside California, A.K.A.: The Night of the Living Dead. God bless all of them but my patience evaporated as a result of the sheer number of elderly people struggling to push oversized carts. But again, I was upbeat because I was in Costco and looking around on a Thursday morning. After a bit of browsing (do I really need a pack of 100 AA batteries? Wow, 6 pounds of gum for $13.) I decided to wander over to the roses section and hit a homer with the missus.

I’ve told about a dozen people at NPS about the great deal of roses. They sell them for about $13 for TWO dozen. Yes, that’s right, and they’re the size of a fist and come in every color imaginable. Every once in awhile I go and get a bundle, giving 12 to my wife and 12 to my daughter. So imagine my surprise when I saw that they were now selling them for $14 for just a dozen smaller roses. Yes, I know that’s still a great deal but I really thought Costco was immune to price jacking. Oh, Costco, how you’ve forsaken me!!!

Well, seeing that my fuse is measured in nanometers, I was pushed a little further up the perturbed scale because I was looking forward to presenting 2 dozen of the “bigguns.” But it’s the thought that counts, right?

At this point of the story, the immense volume of ancient ones really made a dent in my happiness. I have a bundle of freakin flowers and I see that every line at the front has at least a half dozen shrunken figures standing in line with carts filled over the brim. I’m sorry but the first thing that popped into my head was if they would live long enough to use all of these supplies. Were they stockpiling for the afterlife?

I found the shortest line and waited… and waited….and waited. Finally, after watching the elderly gentleman in front of me pack up his box of 3000 trash bags and industrial pack of tarps, among other things, I placed my flowers on the counter.

The employee rang them up and I gave him my checking Visa card. I’ll admit that I’m completely lost when it comes to doing this (checking card? Debit card? Checking-debit hybrid card? Charge card? Checking charge card?...) and it’s a guessing game if the transaction will be successful each time. I usually just hand them the card and hope for the best, praying that there will be no quiz. Last time I was in Costco, I had successful navigated these transaction waters so felt confident nothing would go awry. I was wrong.

“Is this a debit card?” said Mr. I Work At Cosco For A Living.

“Uh…” replied Marine Captain Working on a Master’s Degree

I then tried to recover by saying “No, credit, please.”

“We don’t take credit cards.”

“Uh…”

“You can use it as a debit” as he swipes my card and tells me to enter the pin.

At this point, I’m annoyed beyond words. I’ve never had to go through this process before and didn’t see why this time should be so drastically different. Plus, I suddenly became dreadfully retarded and cannot figure out which buttons to push on the little entry pad. I can’t remember my pin number which ends up not mattering at all because I never knew it in the first place and thought all I had to do was enter my cash card pin (which I had a hard time even remembering that). Nope. The happy little display happily informs me that it cannot complete the transaction. Have a happy day.

Suddenly I realize, I’m the idiot that I always get pissed at when I’m in line and some bozo taking too much time and holding everyone up. So I make the command decision to just put it on my Costco card. After all, that’s what I did before. Right? Oh, silly man, you think it’s that simple, do ya?

“Tell you what, just put it on the Costco card.” Said I.

“This is not a charge card” says he, holding up my Costco card.

“Uh…”

Now confusion took over and anger decided to come out to play. I had officially crossed over the “slightly annoyed” threshold and emerged in the “all out pissed off” realm.

I tell him that I do have a Costco account and that’s the only card I’ve ever had. He tried to explain that this is not the charge account, only the membership card. I tell him I get a freakin’ Cosco bill so I know I have an account. And if I get a bill, I have charges. If I have charges, I need a card that does that. Since this is the only card I knew existed, this must be the one. We were obviously at a standstill with this.

I look in my wallet, knowing this was a futile move since I had only 12 bucks. He then makes the suggestion I use the cash machine in the store and God forgive me, I take the opportunity to run away like a scared school girl because by this time the only thing that surpasses the level of anger I have is the level of embarrassment. Screw it, I’ll just get cash. Actually, I thought about bolting out of the store but then remembered that he still had my Cosco card, as useless as the son-of-a-bitch was.

As I’m nearing the cash machine, my anger is once again welling up because I just know that I’m going to be charged an obscene amount for a “transaction charge” for using this little “Fast Cash” machine. Seems the smaller and more convenient they are, the more they juice you with additional charges. Then I remember I might have entered the wrong PIN number and furiously search through my wallet for the number (Dear Reader, do not even think about lecturing me on the writing my PIN number on a scrap of paper in my wallet!!! I’m already pissed off just recalling this story!). Bingo, I find it and return to the counter, thus sidestepping the exorbitant surcharge of the Evil Fast Cash Robot.

Of course, now the employee is helping Old Melba with a gross ton of denture cream and 22 pounds of saltines among her purchases. After waiting there as patiently as the situation allowed, I finally get my chance and inform him that I might have entered the wrong PIN and that I wanted to try again. Again, this was met with failure and I just left in disgust. Red hot. I think if anyone would have said anything to me in the proceeding 5 minutes, I would be in the county jail on verbal and physical assault charges.

I thought about packing it in, cutting my losses, and going home to ride out my anger. But it was for Valentine’s Day and my wife so I really couldn’t do that. I had to go that extra mile and try to calm myself. It didn’t help that I was cut off in the parking lot by someone who felt it necessary to go my exact route at 10 miles per hour below the posted speed limit (of which was 35 to begin with!!!) But since I’ve not been allowed to attach sidewinder missiles to my truck for just such occasions, I was forced to participate in this funeral procession, boiling the entire way.

After getting $40 out of the cash machine (this little portion was the only thing that went over without a hitch) I decided to take advantage of my proximity to the actual PX to get a card, although I was a little worried that my streak of bad luck and attitude would spell out disaster. But I decided to do it anyway and picked out a card in about 15 seconds (women, note how easy this is for men. It’s not a life and death decision, just make it!) and proceeded to the counter. Wondering how I got away with such a smooth event, I soon got my answer when I got up to the counter that only had two people in front of me and each only had a couple of items. Was I going to get out of there in under 5 minutes?!?!? NO!!!

The register worker made Forrest Gump look like a Nobel laureate. I don’t know if he was mentally slow or disabled but there was something going on (or “not” going on) there. He moved with deliberate moves reminiscent of a glacier race. At this point, I just sat back for the ride. Obviously I had done something that made the Man upstairs unhappy with me and I was being reprimanded.

Back to Costco I went with a clearer head and a question about my ability to charge onto my account. Once I was away from the heat given off by my anger, I realized I should have been able to charge so I went to the customer service counter to see what was going on. Can you see what’s coming yet?

Old lady at counter with old man on deck. One person behind the counter. Trainee. Act II, Scene 1.

I wait and wait and wait and wait… Both people in front of me want to get new cards (to include new pictures) and have stories longer than mine dealing with some confusing situation they find themselves in. Steady, Jason, steady….

Once I get to the counter and explain my situation, it attracts the attention of another trainee. Now all three of us are confused while the two trainees stare blankly at the screen I can’t see. They are trying to look up my account and ascertain if I’m on the account with my wife. It takes the only pleasant person in this long story to come over and patch things up and apologize for the trouble. It seems I truly am on the account, which is nice since I like, pay the bill and all. But there IS a difference between a regular membership card and a charge card. But all that Dorkzilla had to do was to punch in my account and finish the transaction rather then send me away. Seems that was too much trouble for a dumbass customer who tried to use a credit card.

You might think (or hope) that it all ends here but alas, there’s more.

They write me an “authorization” to use my card for today’s transaction. I grab the flowers and realize I went through the trouble of getting cash which is the preferable method anyway. As this thought is entering my head, I round the corner to see that all the lines were twice as full as last time and I had to wait yet another insufferable eternity to get checked out … AGAIN!! A mere 25 minutes later, I’m done, grab my flowers and turn just in time to see a line of over 30 shopping carts waiting to exit the store.

Ahhh, the final kick in the teeth. For those of you that don’t know, Costco insists on checking your receipt at the door before you exit. I have a dozen flowers. That’s it. And then I have to wait another 20 minutes to get out the door. At this point, I’m really starting to question if it’s all really worth the savings.

The long wait gave me time to reflect on what all just happened and a chance to really get ticked off about this receipt policy. I mean, no other store does this and what purpose does it really serve in reality? I’m not the first person who questioned this because they have a big sign that explains their “policy.” But this sign is the final case of the ass I have about the entire Costco experience. It claims they check the receipt for two reasons: to ensure the members received everything they paid for and that they were not over charged.

Come on, people! First, they are not even remotely interested in helping me double check I got everything I paid for. They don’t even check everything; they spot check. Second, they have no idea how much the items really cost so how can they ensure I was not over or under charged? They can’t. Why don’t they just be honest and say they check the receipt to make sure we aren’t stealing crap from them and since they haven’t the interest nor the capability to scour everything, they spot check to deter theft. I would much rather them be honest than to feed me crap about helping me out. Yeah, Register Boy really slid me a favor.

So honey, I hope you like the flowers. They cost $16, 2 ½ hours of wasted time, about 20 miles of driving around, frustration out the yang, and my 10 years of satisfaction with Cosco. Happy Freakin’ V-Day!!!

(Actually, I really mean this because I’m thankful she does most if not all the retail shopping. I’m obviously unfit to deal with normal society.)


Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Here is a great tip passed to me from Miles Michel who left for bootcamp on Feb 9th:

"A wonderful way to exercise your vengeance upon spammers or anybody is to get their fax number, and fax them multiple copies of a black piece of paper. I'm not entirely sure if this is legal so you might want to check first, but those companies that solicite their products to me without my approval haven't complained (for good reason)."

Thanks Recruit Miles and Godspeed.


Tuesday, February 11, 2003

Another Marine Corps item I feel strongly about demonstrated in an email exchange:


hi my name is (name withheld by Capt Grose) and I'm a cadet corporal in my school's marine corps junior rotc program and i just wanted to tell you about how much i enjoy your website. i really enjoyed reading about your boot camp memories and your meeting with Gunnery Sergeant R Lee Ermey. Im a huge fan of his and have seen full metal jacket close to a million times (if you havent read it already, I recomend the issue of leatherneak featuring him.) but i digress i was just wondering what your position was with marine corps junior reserve officer training corps cadets wearing the marine corps emblem, while i beleive that one should truly have to earn the right to wear the emblem by way of the crucible. We who wear it in rotc are not posing as marines.(although i plan to enlist as an officer out of collage) we are doing our best to represent whatever part of the corps we can in the best possible way. i have heard of many marines not approving of cadets wearing the emblem and i was wondering what your stance is.

thank you for your time and keep up the good work!

sincerely,

(name withheld by Capt Grose)


(MY REPLY)

(name withheld by Capt Grose),

Thank you for your kind words and I’m glad that you enjoy the site. Feedback like yours is a big reason why I continue to put work into it.

A slight correction to your email: you don’t “enlist as an Officer.” Enlistment only refers to enlisted ranks. You earn a commission to become an Officer. Slight difference but you kind of mixed the terms.

Let me start the next portion by stating that I respect your involvement in the Marine Corps Junior ROTC Program. From what I’ve seen in some of today’s high school students, embracing the ideals that we Marines hold dear is an anomaly. Whether you go on to become a Marine or not, the lessons you learn will help you in whatever you chose to do.

But since you asked my opinion, let me say that there are two things we Marines hold so close to our hearts that they are taboo for anyone else to even think about touching. The title “Marine” and the Eagle Globe and Anchor. The two go hand in hand and neither is granted. Both are earned.

Here is an email exchange that addressed the title of “Marine.”

Among enlisted Marines it is customary to say that one does not earn the title "Marine" until graduation day at boot camp. College students, however, commonly refer to the Marine-option NROTC students (even the freshmen) as "Marines". I always found this a bit offensive, because I had to work so hard to earn the title. So, at what point in their training does a NON-PRIOR-ENLISTED officer-candidate (PLC, OCS, NROTC, or USNA) earn the title "Marine"?

(my response)

Ut oh, now you did it...

In the famous words of Gunnery Sergeant Hartman from Full Metal Jacket, "YOU LISTEN HERE AND YOU LISTEN GOOD...."

There one way and ONLY one way to earn the honor of being called a Marine. The moment you perform that about face, the moment those immaculately edge-dressed leathers smack together, is the moment the spirit of the Marine Corps brands your soul for life. At that moment, your very DNA changes and little eagle, globe and anchors propagate through every fiber of your being. For an enlisted man, it happens on the parade deck at MCRD. For an Officer, it normally happens on commissioning day. Until that moment, you are not a Marine and should never, and I mean EVER, be referred to as such. You have not earned it, you don't rate it, and it's an insult to every Marine who has sacrificed so much over the history of our beloved Corps.

If I ever caught someone referring to a Marine Option (which is what we called them) as a "Marine," it would pretty much resemble an angry pit bull versus a limping kitten.

'Nuff said.

(end of my response)

You will likely find that the average response from other Marines and can apply to the wearing of the Eagle Globe and Anchor also. You see, however well-intentioned you consider representing those of us who have painfully earned the Eagle Globe and Anchor, you CANNOT.

Since I’ve been a Marine for 15 years out of my 34 on this Earth, it’s hard for me to put myself in your shoes to see if this makes sense but if you ever go through boot camp or OCS, only then will you understand the folly of adopting the Eagle Globe and Anchor before earning it. The spirit that ingrains itself in you when you become a Marine is the very foundation of our fighting ability and our success is based on the power we receive from the fact that we are Marines, have earned that title and symbol, and everyone we fight with has proven themselves in the cauldron of Marine training. So early adopting the title or symbol, for whatever intention, is profoundly insulting to us.

The argument that you are not actually posing as Marines is not a factor. You are wearing something that is not yours, that you have not earned, and that many millions of Marines have held as their most prized possession. I would never wear a Medal of Honor with the argument that I’m showing my deep respect for the symbol or that I’m trying to emulate everything it stands for. Not only would this be wrong to do but the people who don’t know the difference would be misled and those that did know the difference would be enraged… justifiably.

I hope I’ve made my point and again, I want you to know that I approve of the program overall. I think it teaches valuable traits for young people to incorporate as life-long beliefs and the fact that you are participating during a time that military service is not exactly popular with your contemporaries makes it that much more honorable. I just hope that honor expands to encompass the proper respect for those you chose to model your program after.

Jason D. Grose
Captain
United States Marine Corps
http://www.grose.us

"And of course you can't become
if you only say what you would have done..."

If You Steal My Sunshine
Len


Monday, February 10, 2003

I thought I'd post this email exchange since it once again covers my thoughts better every time I write about it. I think it's pretty self-explanatory.


Dear Capt. Grose,

My name is (name withheld by Capt Grose), I recently graduated boot camp (Feb. 7th) and your page really helped me and others in my platoon. I used all your memorization tricks for the general orders and passed them along to others in my platoon. Needless to say nobody in my platoon got any of those wrong on prac.

I hope that while in the Marines I have the time to go to college so that I may try to become accepted into OCS, but seeing how things are right now and watching Pendleton empty out in front of my eyes I don't think I'll have much time for collage anytime soon. Have to get the job done though.

I ended up graduating with the "most improved" title, platoon highshooter, and the only meritorious promotion that wasn’t a guide or squad leader in my platoon so I guess I'm starting my career off on the right foot.

Any extra advice you may have for me would be great, I have a great deal of respect for you and would like to hear what you may have to say in order for me to accomplish my goals, I check into MCT on the 18th so I hope you respond in time for me to read it... I have no idea what MCT is going to be like but I doubt I will ever get a chance to check e-mail. I wish I had a better idea of what I am getting ready to do, your website gave me a good idea of what to expect when going to boot camp but now I'm kinda lost.

Anyways, I hope to receive a reply and thank you for this website, it has been a great deal of help sir.

Semper Fi,

PFC (name withheld by Capt Grose)


PFC (name withheld by Capt Grose),

I've created my webpage back in 1992 and in all that time, I received literally thousands of emails that I've answered in response to the contents of the page. But in that entire time, no one has told me that they used anything specific to help them in bootcamp. Your email telling me that you used the memorization tactics means a lot to me.

Consider this: they were passed to me by my high school history teacher: a former Marine himself. I used them in 1987 and now that you used them, there are (at least) three generations of Marines that have benefited. It's your responsibility to pass it to the next and I fully expect you to comply whether it's by word of mouth, email, or as a DI yourself someday.

You are correct: you are starting off right. Your accomplishments in boot camp are impressive and I would encourage you to continue this level of effort (I never held a leadership position above "prac private" in bootcamp). If you're lucky, you'll run into leaders that will ensure you don't backslide but more likely, it will be your own self-motivation and self-discipline that will have to hold strong. You will find out that many Marines consider being "moto" is akin to butt-kissing and/or "uncool." It will be a test of your character whether to follow them into their bitching complaint parties and their "the world is against me" attitudes that will make their time in the Corps less than stellar. Excuses are like assholes: everyone has one and no one wants to see or hear anyone else's.

You must have the strength of character to go against the tide and do the right thing even when the right way is also the unpopular path. You must make yourself stand out by never compromising and always challenging others when stupidity surfaces. You must make it "cool" to do the right thing.

The best example of this is my mentor who had no qualms of breaking off a boot in my ass if I performed one lick below my abilities. He was a major force in what I know about accomplishment and leadership to this day. He was a Sergeant, I was a Lance Corporal. He took me and brought me home from the Gulf War, as promised. Last Thanksgiving, I drove for 18 hours up and back to spend two days with him in order to watch the seconds hand sweep across midnight, ending his 22 year career. You must find someone like him and latch onto him. Eventually, you must BE that person for someone else.

When you get to your first duty station, you will be at the bottom of the shit pile. Sorry, but that's the way it is but there are two things you must do. First, do everything with zeal, professionalism, and better than expected. Whether it's cleaning shitters or briefing a General, approach each mission with everything you posses and NEVER accept anything from yourself less than everything. Make it a challenge to improve your performance in everything and critique yourself afterward, analyzing if you wrung out every drop of your effort to accomplish the mission.

Second, learn from everyone you meet. The good leaders are easy: pack away what you like about their style and why they are "good." The bad ones, watch closely and similarly pack away their negative performance into your head, labeling it "What NOT to do."

Remember, they are in charge for now and your professionalism is displayed as doing what you're told rather than bickering, second-guessing, or bad mouthing behind backs. (Obviously, if they are receptive to suggestions, offers yours but once the decision is made and you consider it a bad decision, follow it as long as there is no immediate danger. If there is danger, speak up!) It's their time in the sun and your professionalism is not dependent on their decision. It's doing what you are told. But remember and know that your time will one day come and you will expect the same level of subordination and order-following from your Marines. So be a good follower and when the time comes, expect and REQUIRE others to be as good as you were. If you blow it now, it will be hypocritical to expect your future Marines to follow your orders.

This is a lot to soak up so I'll end this email with something I wrote recently when asked what the Marine Corps has that the other services don't offer. Here is my response:

The Marine Corps is unique among the armed forces in several respects and many of them that you hear or read about are mostly true in practice. While it’s honorable to serve in any branch, the Marine Corps takes the most pride in being the best in what we do and that attitude carries through both our personal and professional lives (which by the way, blurs as we identify ourselves as Marines).

Being a Marine is an attitude of professionalism, brotherhood, excellence, pride, and a belief that we can do anything. We promote both physical and mental toughness, education, decision-making, and a self-assurance that borders on cockiness. But at the same time, we hold civility, protocol, respect for others, and a love for our country and her people in high esteem.

We hold ourselves to a high standards and are not shy about policing our ranks, which means that if we see something wrong or someone acting the fool, we correct the situation right away because not only does it make that Marine look foolish and we do not allow it to continue, he or she represents the Corps as a whole and therefore the stupidity is a reflection of all of us. So you have everyone keeping everyone else in check at all times and it becomes a mark of professionalism never to let your fellow Marines down by doing something we know is wrong. This is something you don’t see in other services who would view this behavior as “too motivated” or “hard core harassment.”

Marines have pride in their history. Every Marine knows and celebrates the Marine Corps birthday every year. We can talk for hours about our history and traditions from loving memory. Any Marine can talk for hours about everything from weapons and tactics to protocol and history. We all go through a life-changing transition when we go through bootcamp and we have endured the hardest recruit training in history from men and women that are as scary as they are professional (and we never EVER forget them).

It would be insulting to call the head of the Air Force “Airman.” Just as insulting, the Army General would be beside himself if you called him “Soldier.” If you call the Chief of Naval Operation a “sailor”, you’ll see the inside of the brig. But the Commandant would still get a chill when addressed as Marine. We are the only service who uses part of their service name as a title. It’s a compliment to be called “Marine” no matter what rank you are.

The last point I’ll bring up answers your second question as well. When things go wrong in this world, who are the first people that the President turns too? He calls the Marines and that’s the truth. We have Marines waiting on ships deployed around the world every day of the year. When called, they can be anywhere within a day if not hours, ready to fight.

I say America doesn’t technically need a Marine Corps because technically, we provide a service that could be a specialized Army function. But America WANTS a Marine Corps because we represent the punch of American power. We kick down the door and neutralize any situation before it gets too big. It’s what we represent that makes America feel good about having some really tough men and women to keep them safe from those that would do us harm. To ensure that we meet that requirement and that the belief is not just a bunch of hype, we train hard and hone our skills to match the expectations America has for us. We focus that professionalism, excellence, pride, smartness, toughness, and dedication on everything but when applied to warfighting, there simply is no better force in the American arsenal.

We do two things well: win battles and make Marines. The benefit of the first is obvious but the benefit of the second is not fully appreciated. By making Marines, we create super-citizens who take the skills but more importantly, the attitude of being a Marine with them for the rest of their lives. Once they return to civilian life, they have with them an attitude of citizenship, respect, honor, drive, and professionalism that is somewhat missing in today’s average American, at least to the degree that Marines posses.

Will the Corps be disbanded one day? I hope not but it’s been tried ever since we were established in 1775. The same people that love us sometimes forget why they loved us in the first place. This is especially true after a war because they want to put the reality behind them and see no need to keep fighters at the ready after they have established peace. At that time, we represent the ugly reality that you must have men and women who know how to fight and do real damage to the enemy. They forget that there are people out there that do not share their view about loving everyone, accepting diversity, and laying down their arms for one big Earth hug. There are people out there that would take over this country at any sign of weakness from us because we are the “haves.” People who have enjoyed our standard of living without ever experiencing foreign aggression sometimes do not appreciate the level of danger that exists every day in the majority of this world and that the only realistic protection from it is to meet force with force, or at least have the capability to do so. Personally I wish it was not that way but that doesn’t change the necessity of protecting ourselves from those that do not share that same view. I don’t want to try to explain the folly of violence to a mob who is tearing me apart for being an American. The Marine Corps exists for the same situation on a national scale.

We have to constantly prove to those that forget what we do that we still hold a purpose. We are in a continuous state of justifying ourselves which, on the good side, forces us to reevaluate what we do and the services we provide. The result is that we evolve depending the latest world situation. We used to have an amphibious focus but the mass landings on hostile shores are unlikely for the future. We now concentrate on things like close combat in an urban situation, terrorism, and quick insertion strikes. But the thing that has not changed, and that will never change, is the application of the Marine attitude. As long as we keep that, we can learn new tactics and apply our professionalism to become proficient in anything we evolve into. That’s the secret and what I think is the uniqueness of the Corps: the attitude is the constant and with that, we can do anything.

Semper Fi, Marine!

Jason D. Grose
Captain
United States Marine Corps
http://www.grose.us

"And of course you can't become if you only say what you would have done..."
If You Steal My Sunshine
Len


Sunday, February 2, 2003

The shuttle tragedy is all over the news. On one hand, I’m grateful to have the information beamed right to my house where I can watch it from my bed, thus perpetuating my slothly ways. But on the other hand, the one I must bite, I got a little irritated with some of the lame straws that the news grasp at due to the lack of information in the early hours of the tragedy.

Since no one knows exactly what happened (and we won’t know for a long time), the news is left to wild conjecture and scrambling for relevancy. Suddenly, they dig up and dust off every person, relevant or not, that has ever had even a faint connection to the space program and/or the astronauts that died.

The top prize has to be one I saw yesterday. They went to college that Kalpana Chawla attended some years ago and interviewed a current Indian female student that obviously was flagged down at random for a street interview. This girl had never even seen the astronaut and had little to add, other than what most anonymous strangers felt. This was a tragic event. So to sum up, a random, current student from one of the astronaut’s alma mater stating the blatantly obvious. Really lame.

Hours and hours and hours of newscasters babbling endlessly in a blackout of current information. They furiously sank their teeth into the only shred of fact about the foam insulation coming off the tank and hitting the wing during take off. When that foam horse was once again beaten viciously and they ran out of things to conjecture about it, they mention that most of the scientists agree that it likely was not the cause. But did that stop them? NO. Bring on the foam experts. Bring on the tile experts. Bring on the next pilot after the Challenger disaster. Bring on the student rep from one of the payload specialist’s kindergarten class.

But this pales in comparison to what I read today. If I could have written yesterday about what popped in my head, you would be saying that I’m either clairvoyant or that I have a strong sense of the inevitable. What I thought about yesterday and what I read about today was that some idiot was going to be selling shuttle debris on eBay. Sure enough, I read today that several listings came up hours after the disaster and that eBay took the listings off as soon as they realized they existed. What’s sadder is that I have no doubt that there were bids on them before they were torn down. Never under-estimate the stupidity of a certain percent of humans. Like the story said, whether the debris was bogus or real, it was obviously the wrong thing to do.

To sum up and offer some advice, we are tired of hearing “And now, standing by via satellite, we have the former director of Acme tile design company that came in third place bid for the shuttle program in 1972… Mr. Smith, what brought down the shuttle?”

Gather the news, report it, and get back to work. The facts will come out and when they do, report them. Don’t drag out every hump with an opinion and loose association with the space program to offer their view. I stopped getting spoon fed about 32 years ago and at this point, your chances of contributing something accurate is miniscule. Your wasting my time and yours when you travel way down the conjecture path.


Saturday, February 1, 2003

Today we lost the Space Shuttle Columbia and the seven astronauts aboard. I was barely aware that there was a mission up there and absolutely no clue they were coming back today. Such is the general situation these days when the flights have been so routine that they aren’t newsworthy. We go about our lives, worrying about the little things, while other’s lives end tragically.

Everyone remembers what they were doing when things like this drill themselves into the national memory. Today, I was preparing to coach a basketball game at NPS. I coach my son and 8 other 10 year olds and we were looking forward to a good game after getting beaten rather badly last week. We worked all week on the weaknesses that sunk us last week and I felt we were ready. Literally minutes before tip off, one of the parents asked me if I had heard the news this morning. Having awoken at 0545 to get a 10 mile run in before our 0900 game, I had not heard anything. The parent informed me that the Space Shuttle blew up and my one and only question was “Did they lose all the astronauts?” But I knew before they answered; there is no escape module on the shuttle and surviving a crash from space was not in the realm of possibility. For the rest of the game, I just hoped that it was a joke or mistake. I didn’t want to face the reality of another national disaster until I got home and watched the news.

My own jolt in all of this is when I realized that it could have been me up there. I had wanted to be an astronaut since I was a kid and a few years ago, I made a concerted effort to make it a reality. At 34, it’s possible that I could’ve been in the pipe to be on a shuttle flight by now. Albeit a sliver of possibility, it made me think about how my life has panned out. With all of my successes, it’s my failures that speak to me at quiet moments. Being an astronaut was so important to me all through growing up and it’s one of the biggest regrets and failures due to lack of serious effort that I have to face. It makes me shiver to think a more bull-headed effort on my part could have put my name among the seven lost today. Yes, it’s a risk that every astronaut knows and accepts, just like a military member, but for those of us left to contemplate the reality, it requires a moment of pause.

I was in 11th grade when the Challenger exploded. I was walking into a classroom at Putnam City High School in OKC, OK when someone told me about it and I remember a sense of utter disbelief. The teacher wheeled in a TV that we watched for the class and there was stunned silence for the entire hour. Back then, the desire to become an astronaut was still a reality and I remember it scared me to the core. I had a dentist appointment that afternoon and I can vividly remember as my mother drove me to the dentist office that for the first time, I questioned my desire to be an astronaut. Did I really want to put myself in that kind of danger? (an ironic thought for a future United States Marine).

Back then it was “Do I want to do this” and this time it’s more like “Maybe it’s fortunate that I never did.” These thoughts are of no comfort, though, when I think of the 7 people who died today. They not only did they share that fledgling desire I felt but they acted on it to make it a reality. The odds of successfully making it up in a shuttle mission are, excuse the pun, astronomical. But they did it. They could look in the mirror and say something I will never be able to: “I am an astronaut.” That it cost them their lives for that title is depressing and for some of the family, I assume, considered not worth it. But I have to think that for them, they would not see it that way. They would not have been where they were at if they were not willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice for their ambitions. For that, they deserve our respect. Forever, they will have mine.


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