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Jason Grose's BLOG

May 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.


Friday, May 30, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“A GOOD LAWYER CAN MAKE A SODOMY CHARGE LOOK LIKE MERELY FOLLOWING TOO CLOSE.”
- Unknown

I tried to keep a positive attitude for today but I knew that the day was ripe with opportunities to really piss me off. Why, you ask? Because I had 3 major events, 2 of which included service-oriented interaction where I would have to depend on others and one where I would be volunteering.

First, I had an appointment to talk to my bank about getting a home loan. Second, I volunteer for my son’s school as the PE teacher after massive budget cuts removed all “nonessential” positions. Third, I had a doctor’s appointment.

Let’s start with the bank loan. For those of you that know me and how massive a cheapskate I am, going into a place to ask for $200,000 is not what you would call “within my comfort zone.” Add to that my average disposition with any service industry and you have a recipe for a massive putz attack on my part. Today I would not disappoint.

I did my homework consisting of reading the pamphlet but atomic bomb assembly instructions made more sense so I prayed that a broad-brush understanding of the basic vocabulary would shield me against the inevitable fleecing I was about to endure. The first sign that things were not ideal was when my wife forgot to bring the Roth IRA paperwork the pamphlet suggested as “must have” items to bring to the meaning.

“That’s why I asked before we left!!!” So now I’m pissed and for some unknown reason, my wife takes issue with my attitude. Women! You can’t live with them and you can’t somehow expect them to take care of every minute detail perfectly to your exacting specifications without a micron of deviation. How unreasonable!

OK, now that domestic tranquility is a fetid mess, now we have to deal with the bank. We get there, sign in, and (all together now)… have a seat and someone will be right with us. So we wait. Our 1100 appointment now has us sitting in the waiting room until 1120.

“Have you been helped?”

“Unless you define ‘help’ as provided with a sign in sheet and then total indifference, no, no we haven’t.”

“What are you here for?”

“We’re shopping for coconuts, of course.”

Wife pipes in: “We have an appointment.”

“For a new account or …?”

“No, we hear the coconuts are fabulous this time of year.”

Wife: “No, for a home loan. I made an appointment with some lady with black hair.”

At this point, I start crying.

“The loan department waiting room is over on the other side. This is for new bank accounts.”

"Oh, how silly of us to sign in, wait in the 'waiting room' visible from the sign in sheet, and wait here until some visionary with x-ray vision for detail decides to inquire about the pesky people waiting in the "Waiting Room." How can we make up for this obvious faux pas on our part?"

So we go to the other side where there are more empty chairs and are told to wait. Ah, this is so much better.

Ten minutes later, it all starts again with a completely different woman.

“Have you been helped?”

The thought flashes in my head just how many years assault and battery would get me.

My wife repeats her expert testimony about the mystery women with the unique identifier of “black hair” which results in this new helpful pixie looking at us with a complete blank look only altered by the hint of utter confusion. Just then, a new women enters the scene and joins blank/confused pixie #1 who conveys the jumbled intel thus far exposed. Now, in the only comical scene of the day, I have two pixies with the EXACT SAME confused look staring at us.

After a silence only broken by my muffled sneer (I knew at this point that it was all downhill from here), one of them says “We don’t take appointments over there for home loans.”

My reaction to this revelation was that the logical flip side to this statement was twofold:

1. We are lying and have nothing better to do on a Friday morning than to perpetrate false home loan appointments in the off chance that we can game the system into some unknown advantage or just for the adrenaline rush

or

2. There is no 'two'; the original statement is of no use to us.

I kind of went with #2 and stated “That’s not our problem.”

Normally, I detest that statement and see it as an excuse to get out of work. But in this scenario, what I meant was that someone took our appointment and told us to be there. They were a representative of this establishment and that is where our interface ended. It’s not like we needed a second opinion on the appointment from anther representative of the bank. They told us to be here at 1100 on Friday and we were there.

So to tell us that what happened to us does not, in fact, happen is a worthless statement. It can and did and therefore, telling us that it wasn’t supposed to is dragging us into their broken procedure snafu. Nope, sorry, that’s you’re problem. We are the customer, your representative told us to be here, we came, and now you fix it.

I CAN be a reasonable man but this was one area where I give no quarter. Plus, working out the details of begging for their money guaranteed my mood to be less than dripping with understanding. Bottom line, bring on the mule judges because the King of All Asses has arrived.

By 1140, they “accommodated" us and a loan officer took us into a broom closet, I mean a temp room with no computer to input our information, and did the interview. She was knowledgeable so at least I felt comfortable with the accuracy of the butt-raping I was to receive from “fees” so near and dear to my heart.

If you’ve been paying attention to the news, you know that mortgage rates have dropped to below 5% all over the place. This got us all excited.

“You’re rate will be 5.5%.”

“What?! I thought rates were below 5.”

“Well, with the PMI we pay the deferred insurance dues rolled up into your home loan that you qualify for. The service fee is 1 1/2 percent which if you go with the VA loan will be 2% so you see that we are saving you ½ a percent.”

“Um, you are telling me that even though I saw on the news that rates are below 5% all over the place, you are going to charge me 5.5% and then claim you are saving me ½% on my my loan.”

“Yes.”

“And that makes sense to you?”

“You have no points.”

“No, you have no point. My point is that I’m getting roto-rootered here and you have a straight face while Klingon rolls out of your mouth.”

“I mean to get the lower interest rates, you have to have points to put down.”

“I own both my cars.”

“That’s nice”

“You want one of my children?”

I left there wondering how I could only get a 5.5% rate, still pay mortgage insurance (“…but it’s rolled into your loan.” “Great, tack on another couple of grand so I can pay for a remove-the--telephone-pole-from-my-ass-ectomy procedure”), and on top of all that, still have to come up with $5000 closing costs.

“Oh, and you can’t borrow it.”
“I don’t have it.”
“You can have a relative ‘gift’ it to you”
“You don’t know my family. How about your family?”

So just even before I grab both cheeks for the bank, I have to immaculately conceive five gees that I can’t borrow and which I will need to freely hand over to the whole house-buying vortex as bribe money to soothe the realty gods.

My last question that kind of sums the whole thing up for me: how do I crap 5000 bills when the exit is blocked by a telephone pole. Didn’t think of that, did you, you damn little bank pixies.

OK, enough angst for one sitting. I’ll have to delve into the doctor’s appointment tomorrow. Sorry but ranting takes a lot of effort and it’s late.

Free Advice for Today:
“Start the standing ovation at the end of school plays.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

 


Thursday, May 29, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“A MAN WITH A WATCH KNOWS WHAT TIME IT IS. A MAN WITH TWO WATCHES IS NEVER SURE.”
- Unknown

OddTodd reminded me of a situation I came across a few years ago involving rude people. I'll admit that I hang up on telemarketers the moment they call but a wrong number is a different story. Here's what happened:

Ring

Me: Hello
Them: Is this Pizza Hut?
Me: No, sorry, you must have the wron…

CLICK

(10 seconds)

Ring

Me: Hello
Them: Is this Pizza Hut?
Me: You dialed the same number. No, this is not Pizza Hut and I don’t appreciate…

CLICK

(10 seconds)

Ring

Me: Hello
Them: Is this Pizza Hut?
Me: Yes sir, it sure is, can I take your order?
Them: Great, hold on… (in the background) Hey, what do guys want?
Background: Ask about any specials
Them: Do you have any specials?
Me: Why yes Sir, two large pizzas and two liters of Coke for $5.
Them (repeats to crowd who are astonished…) Yeah, we’ll take two of those.
Me: Great, you want cheesesticks, they’re free.
Them: Sure, throw them in.
Me: Can I get your address and phone number?
Them (they give it to me and I repeat it like I’m writing it down).
Me: OK, it’ll be about ½ hour.
Them: Super!

I always wonder how long they waited and how pissed they got. Better yet, if they finally got ahold of the real Pizza Hut (they never called me back) and the ensuing goat rodeo that conversation was!!!

One more related treat for you. Go here and read this and let me know what you think. It’s absolutely classic!

Free Advice for Today:
“Have a dog.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“THE UNIVERSE IS LIKE A SAFE TO WHICH THERE IS A COMBINATION. BUT THE COMBINATION IS LOCKED UP INSIDE THE SAFE.”
- Unknown

I don’t feel good today so I’m not even going to filter my sarcastic, caustic writing. No positive spins today, my friend so please understand that on days like this, it’s better to just go off on a good old rant and let out the acid.

Did I for one moment think that the auto repair shop was going to stick with the least expensive repairs for once in their miserable, anal-jousting lives? (This is where, you, the audience, answer with a rounding “NO!”)

My truck (hereunto referred to as “Truckasaurus”) has been a great friend over the years. I bought it brand new in 1992 as a reward for getting my butt home from the Gulf War in one piece. Truckasaurus has brought home both of my children from the hospital and has been a constant companion for all these years from the deserts of Arizona to the rain of the Pacific Northwest and back to the desert of the California high desert. Over the years, it has not required too much maintenance (other than a new engine which I did not hold against it) and even stuck with its original alternator until just a few months ago (that’s about 11 years’ use, for you poly-sci types).

Truckasaurus’s long life is by no means the result of my automotive expertise (“The gas goes here, right?”) but rather my tomboy wife’s unending attention to detail.

Her: “How long has it been making that sound?”
Me: “What sound?”

Therefore I was informed by the wife that the brakes needed checked which she discovered after arranging new tires last week after she researched, found, and made an appointment to get them put on. My part in all that was, er, I was gone with our other car at a marathon for the weekend. But at least I did get to choke on the final price tag. Bastards!

So she arranged an appointment to take the truck in. But it was ME who had to take the truck in. Yes, I actually participated in this little maintenance task even if it was just dropping the truck off and telling them to do exactly what Carrie told me to tell them. Hey, I heard that! I’m the computer guy in the family. I don’t do automotive!! Stop snickering or I’ll hack your identity!

So I drop it off and tell them to check the brakes and look at the leak in the cab on the passenger’s side. I (OK, she) noticed that there were drippings that looked like antifreeze on the floormat. My thought was “Oh, THAT can’t be cheap.”

Did I really expect them to call and say something like:

“Hi, Mr. Grose. Yeah, it looks like we found your trouble the moment we looked under the hood and it was just a 50 cent clamp. Since we saw it right away, we won’t bother with any labor charges. We could have torn apart the entire upper assembly from the inside to get to it but we are smart and honest enough to go through the engine side and find it in the obvious area. And about the brakes, we had a shop contest where we had a pitstop-style race to see who could take off a tire, replace the brake pad, and replace the tire in the quickest time. Bernie was the slowest one because his was the only pad worn enough to replace so we have to go with his time for the labor charge. I’m sorry but we’ll have to charge you the entire 2 minutes.”

Instead, just to look at the pads cost me about $28 (“Yep, there they are…ch-CHING!”). The labor and parts were added. (“Anal lube will be extra, Mr. Grose”) Then I’m told that the leak was cased by a faulty heating unit (it’s been 80 degrees here lately and I’ve been cranking the A/C for weeks. Where does a heating unit come into play? The obvious answer is “in my ass”).

This little joy I’m told will take two hours to tear out and replace. (“You might feel a dull pressure…”).

Why don’t I just let you keep the truck? Is that what you want you filthy cheating bastards? Well, forget it! I’ll show you! I’ll thwart your plans by writing you a big fat check I can’t afford and drive off in my non-leaking, fresh brake-padded Truckasaurus that by all intents and purposes drives exactly the same as when I dropped it off. Who’s the smart guy now?!?!?!

(Not the ideal day to start this but here's a new daily addition I'll be including with each BLOG entry)

Free Advice for Today:
“Compliment three people every day.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“RANK IS GIVEN TO YOU TO ENABLE YOU TO BETTER SERVE THOSE ABOVE AND BELOW YOU; NOT TO PRACTICE YOUR IDIOSYNCRASIES.”
- Unknown

The obvious questions is “Where the hell have you been?” Well, mostly I’ve been busy working on the marathon pics. I still have the stories to do but I thought a good old fashioned BLOG entry was in order.

Today’s topic: My Memorial Day Celebration

Friday: sat on my ass
Saturday: sat on my ass working on webpage
Sunday: continued my ass-sitting activities
Monday: sat on my ass at a BBQ and thought about Veterans.

I met a lot of nice people at the BBQ who became even nicer as the day went on, likely due to the 4 Coors Light and 1 Corona following in trace. But because my dog Buster thought it prudent to pass on some poison oak to me, I looked like a leper from neck to ankle and tried to hide the hideous fact by wearing jeans and a sweatshirt. The beer dulled the senses and it was sunny but not hot.

Can you see where this is going?

When I turned the shower on this morning and the hot water hit my forehead, it was like acid. I realized that my entire body had been protected from the sun. Everything save my melon and therefore it looked like a red Christmas light.

So today I went to school in uniform with the only portion of my body not covered in oozing bubbles, burnt to a red glow. But I’m not complaining. I don’t know why, but I really didn’t mind and I’m confounded by the fact. Sometimes a fly landing on my arm will send me into a rage yet some days like today, nothing can rain on my parade. I guess I’m just “off” but that’s nothing new. It’s all part of being the weird guy I am.

I also started a new personal schedule where I go to bed at 10:00 PM and wake up at 0530 to get a quick run in. I’ll let you know how it goes but so far, I avoided the nap and even got in an afternoon workout. I’d like to say it’ll last but odds are, it won’t. But it won’t stop me from trying!!!


Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“A Marine can do any amount of work, as long as it the work he is not supposed to be doing.”
- Unknown

God help me but I’ve been watching The Oprah.

It started last week when I was sucked into the vortex by looking directly at the television at 4:00 PM. I was dragged into the world of The Oprah and haven’t been able to extricate myself since. I’m pretty sure I’m developing a vagina as a result.

What got me was Jim Carey as the guest. Jim Carey is one of those people that someone finds insanely funny or catastrophically annoying and I fall into the former category. I think Dumb and Dumber might be the funniest movie ever made (“I want to go to a place where the beer flows like wine!”).

True to form, he was out of control on the show and I enjoyed watching him turn The Oprah upside down and inside out. I found it amusing to watch a control freak like The Oprah lose total power against the onslaught of Jim Carey’s antics. You could tell she started to get annoyed but that just fueled him and it was great.

Monday, The Oprah had the only flavor of her show I thought was worth watching. The whole show’s premise was surprising people and making a dream come true. The best one was an old man who was crazy about The Temptations. His family was there explaining his obsession with them to the point that every Christmas, he would come down in a tuxedo and make them sing back up while he sang some Temptations’ songs.

The Oprah interviewed him and his family and then said she had a surprise for him. That was the cue for the real, original Temptations to run out on stage and start singing. The look on that old man’s face was worth a million dollars. His face lit up like the 4th of July and they even pulled him onto stage to sing backup on a song. It was incredible to watch.

I thought this was the end of my involvement with The Oprah until today. My wife came in and turned the TV on and I once again made the mistake of looking directly at the tube. That’s all it took. I think my penis fell off.

The Oprah had a mystery show that no one knew what it was about. What it ended up being was a show about all her favorite springtime items but there was a catch. She would explain what it was and why it was her favorite, and then she gave every single one of the audience, all 350 of them, one of each item. The audience had no idea this was going to happen and some of the things were pretty pricey such as the $750 digital camera, the BBQ, outfits, an IPOD, sunglasses, etc. She just kept on bringing stuff out and the crowd was going nuts. After she would explain an item, a horde of assistants would flow into the audience with merchandise that they gave to each audience member. It was fun to watch all these people hit the jackpot and The Oprah was very pleased. She saw the hysteria and it was good.

So there you have it. I watched 3 shows and my ovaries almost burst. I will try to recover any sliver of masculinity and blame it on “experimentation.” I just hope I don’t have to turn in my Man Card. I'm now going to my happy place...


Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“HARDHEADED IS OK. STUPID AND HARDHEADED, THATS ANOTHER STORY.”
- Unknown

So tired today.

I could hardly keep awake today in class and realized that while the soreness of my 50 mile run has subsided to the tolerable level, my body is just plain tired (and a bit pissed off, I think).

I stumbled around campus today, in uniform, looking like the walking dead. After willing myself to stay awake for my 2 hour morning class, I showed up to a meeting late and everyone was already seated. It seems like the talk of the moment was my insanity and the first 10 minutes was devoted to exploring my dementia in participating in the race. The faces that I saw were pure incomprehension and I was too tired to try to rally them to my thought process. So I just tried to get across the two basic reasons I’m going with these days:

1. Because not many people can ever say they could or did run 50 miles in their life

2. Completing it once could have been a fluke but two times proves it’s not.

I think the best statement came from a Marine Major who stated that in a 13.5 hour period, I surpassed the sum total of his entire running total as a Marine.

After the meeting, I had little choice but to go home. I got there and the only thing faster than my uniform shedding was the speed at which I hit the bed. Then, that record was shattered by the nanoseconds it took to fall asleep. For two hours I ceased to exist.

I woke up and decided to take the kids to the beach since they’d been asking. Carrie and I packed the beach goods and headed out to enjoy a wonderful Monterey afternoon. By that, I mean the kids played in the surf, Carrie studied her homework, and after gulping two beers, I, well, OK, I fell asleep on the beach. I told you I was tired!!

I spent the evening catching up on some computer issues (I got the 200 GB drive installed!!!) and caught up with some school work. I also started chipping away at the marathon pics but only got as far as organizing the Lone Pine pics and making thumbnails (all 93 of them!!). I still have to write those stories and then do all the same (pics and stories) for the ultra. Sigh.

But for now, I have to go, um, er, OK, get some damn sleep. YOU run 50 miles and then see how bright-eyed and bushy-tailed YOU are the week after. In fact, why don’t you just … ZZZZZZZZ...


Monday, May 19, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“Maybe you should put some lemondrops in your fanny.”
- Ultra-marathon Aid Station Worker who left off the important last word "pack."

I survived.

Barely.

On Saturday, I ran 50 miles through the High Sierra Mountains near Bishop California. For the second year in a row, I thought it logical to run this race and for the second year in a row, I paid dearly for my foolishness. Maybe it’s all the lactic acid talking, but this year was especially brutal.

For the first time in my life, I was ready to give up (between 30-40 mile section). Now I can't decide if I'm more ashamed of considering it or more proud that I didn’t when I wanted to.

Also, for the first time, I was literally concerned for my health. I felt like I was doing some real damage and might suffer some long term effects. But with strength I didn’t know I possessed, I made it with no adverse results (other than some really chapped lips and a 61st placing out of 63).

I'm just glad I'm moving so I won’t be tempted with this particular run again next year. My mantra at the end was that "Finishing once could be considered a fluke. Twice is proof it wasn't."

I will be writing the stories soon so I don’t want to give away too much (OK, it’s late and I don’t feel like going into it right now) so stay tuned.


Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“WHEN YOU TELL A SUBORDINATE TO DO A JOB THAT VERY WELL MAY COST HIS LIFE AND HE DOES SO WITHOUT HESITATION...YOU HAVE DONE YOUR JOB AS A LEADER WELL.”
- Unknown

I have lost complete track of time.

I mean I wake up to the sound of my wife getting out of bed to get the kids up and the next thing I know, it’s 0800 and they are kissing their slob of a Dad who’s still drooling on the pillow. “’Bye kids, have a nice d..zzzzzz...” Maybe it has something to do with staying up until 0200 messing with the computer when I have no morning classes the next day.

So I stumble out of bed wondering what happened to the guy who used to get up at 0500 to run or get a start on the day. All these years as a Marine and you’d think that a 0800 wake-up call would be a thing of the past. You’d think…

I grab a cup of coffee and take up my rightful place in front of the computer like the techno-lemme that I am. In the blink of an eye, it’s noon. What the hell happened?

Now I’m scrambling to get in the shower and grab a bite to eat (not a great eating routine when my 50 mile race is only days away) before getting to a meeting at school. Driving home afterwards, it occurs to me that I have about 7 hours before I call it a day. Why, that’s all the time in the world, right?

Blink. Late for a run.
Blink. Rush to the dinner after the wife yells at me for the third time. “OKAY!!!”.
Blink. 10:30 P.M. and I have ½ hour before The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (required nightly viewing).

When I was a young enlisted Marine and worked in an avionics shop, I had to write everything I did that day on a clipboard. We had to account for every minute (although this data was never used as far as I know) and the default filler was “tech training” which really meant “What the hell happened to the day?” and a bit less dangerous than “Fox Oscaring.”

Well, it seems that I’m doing a lot of tech training these days. Yes I bitch about not having enough time to do the things I put on my own plate but it’s a Marine's God-given right to bitch. I bet if I had to write my progress each day (notice that the act of doing this is in itself a time grabber) I’d be horrified at the time I piss away.

This brings me to the realization that it has been a long time since I’ve actually been bored. As a kid, I can remember being profoundly bored a lot but now that I’m in my 30’s, the only time I’m actually bored is when I’m sitting in class and even then, I usually fill me head with taskers which I write down on my daily planner (thus loading the plate for future time deficits).

Many times I get irritated with myself and decide to buckle down and break this cycle. I vow to wake up early, get a jump on the day, and seize every moment of the day. I declare that I will be a shining example of industry and self-discipline. I get home to implement this bold new plan … and then see my king size bed. Maybe a preparatory nap is in order…

Blink.


Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“There's too much blood in my caffeine system.”
- Unknown

Day 2 of the Millington trip was… interesting.

After staying up late due to the time change, combined with the jet lag and copious amount of beer consumed on Beal Street, the first full day in the riveting metropolis that is Millington saw me with lids half mast. The oppressive heat made my t-shirt stick to my body like so much cellophane and the day dragged on while we watched promotion board procedures. I could barely contain myself as the excitement pulled out of me a mighty yawn.

After getting our fill of the promotion board SOP, Glenn and I decided to do the Marine thing and get some PT. Did I mention it was hot and humid? And that I was recovering from my marathon a few days prior. This combined into a rather hideous PT session that saw more walking than running. I forgot how 99% humidity can reduce a man to a quivering mass of uselessness. But enough about Glenn…

I took the opportunity to check out the old base where I had learned avionics way back in 1988 as a young enlisted boy. I finally found the school house I went to every morning for a year and even found the office I stood outside at parade rest every Friday, waiting for the Sergeant Major to chew a new layer of my ass off for performing less than optimal on the weekly tests.

My old barracks was bulldozed years ago and the chowhall had been turned into a gym but with my superior land appreciation (wild guess) I found the exact spot (I think) where my barracks room was. What a miserable 6 months I spent there before my wife flew out to marry me.

Afterwards we thought it prudent to take a ride in the countryside…OK, we got lost, which by the way is not a good idea in the South (sound of a banjo plays in the background). We got turned around and realized the mall was farther than we wanted to go at 9:00 at night so we settled on stopping at Sonic for dinner.

I like Sonic. I grew up on Sonic. Sonic is the bomb. Unfortunately, Glenn considered it a gut bomb. I, on the other hand, was happy to get my annual grease quota from good old Sonic. We were also treated to a view of the indigenous culture. Four teens drove up and made it a point of being loud, ignorant, and doing there best to look like they knew how to smoke the cigarettes they most likely lifted from Daddy’s coat pocket. Driving away, I noticed that one was pregnant. Perfect.

BTW, Justin Timberlake was born and raised in this town. Insert your own joke here.

But the best of the evening was yet to come. At about 11:00 that night, I was about to turn in to catch up on the sporadic sleep I had when the sky fell in. The rain was angry and the thunder and lightning show was impressive. After an hour of this, the rain let up but was soon replaced by a tornado siren. For those that have never experienced this little slice of heaven, the siren is on a rotating spindle and is about as loud of a jet engine strapped to your head. I ran out on the catwalk and the sound wall hit me like a sledgehammer. It was about 50 yards away and shook the windows. I thought to myself “The damn siren is going to cause more damage than the tornado!”

This went on for about an hour while the TV showed the storm over the very area we were at. “Take shelter right away..” OK, Sparky; where? I had traveled clear across the country just to stay in the most dangerous weather in the U.S. and this is how it’s going to end, on the second deck of a Best Western.

Lucky for me, nothing happened but when the winds stopped and I saw cottonwood dancing in the air, swirling in circles, my skin crawled. Sudden low pressure and no wind spells tornado but all I could do is stand there and contain my bladder.

Thus the night ended and the next day began. Still muggy, still tired, still in Millington. Maybe that tornado should have … nevermind.


Monday, May 12, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“One martini is all right, two is too many, three is not enough.”
- James Thurber

I must revisit my Tennessee trip because it was so damn bizarre. The first night, we flew from Monterey to LA to Memphis. In the process, we were poked, prodded, scanned, searched, inspected, searched, fondled, checked, rechecked, felt-up, molested, and I’m pretty sure betrothed by security personnel or what I like to call the Gestapo. Not only did I NOT have a bomb on me but a bee-bee in my small intestine would not have made it through. All of this I accepted as the state of our nation but it did get a bit old after awhile. That and the way the security people can refer to you as “Sir” in the most apathetic way, making it sound like an insult punctuated by their gum chewing.

One thing stood out during this little fun-fest; after going through a most intrusive security check complete with metal detector and tearing apart my carry on, I walked ten feet (feeling like a cheap tramp on Sunday morning) only to have another “Security Professional” ask me for my boarding pass. Let’s analyze this a second, Sunshine. I just got turned inside out by the Keystone Cops back there and ten feet later, you’re going on the possibility that I somehow made it through undetected even after going through 27 other levels of security up to this point? I’m just trying to understand the necessity of this particular step. Help me out here.

Everything after that went smooth until we got to Memphis where someone, excuse me, EVERYONE apparently forgot to turn off the humidifier. It was like a green house in the desert, cacti and all, except with a less intelligent populous. More on that later.

My buddy and I got to the car rental place where we got our first taste of Southern Hospitality. The best way to describe it was that the people, how do I put this, could give a rat’s ass about your situation. And we didn’t even have a “situation” but seemed to be really bothering the help (and I use that term loosely). I can’t pinpoint what happened but it was just the vibe.

I still don’t know if I should say we were upgraded or downgraded. They didn’t have a compact car for us so they gave us a minivan. To tell the truth, I really didn’t care that much because I’m married, I’ve been fixed (never knew I was broken), and we weren’t exactly in the premier breeding capitol of the world (unless your in your early teens). Plus, it was the first time I had ever been authorized a rental so even a yellow Yugo would have been fine. But something about two Marine Officers gliding off the lot in a minivan just screamed “You ain’t from around here, is ye?”

We got to our hotel and I finally found someone with worse luck than me. I somehow got the last non-smoking room so Glenn, my thesis partner, walked into his room which smelled like cigar night at the bingo parlor. They had no available non-smoking rooms but they agreed to send up Buford and “sanitize” the room which apparantly means spraying the most noxious chemical that dampened the smell using the concept of “Introduce a worse smell and the smoke smell will not seem as bad.”

The obvious result to this was that Glenn left the door open while he got settled. Suddenly, there was a woman in the doorway that had white trash written all over her. Really, she had “White Trash” tattooed all over her. OK, not really but that would have been more subtle. Her introductory statement was “You smoke?” (an ironic situation considering the story thus far). Glenn, the consummate gentleman, said he didn’t (my reaction would have been “Slime off, gutter trash”) but for his politeness, he was rewarded with her just waltzing in and plopping on the corner of the bed. Then she began to tell Glenn of her woes, how she’s being kicked out of her apartment (surprise) and the rest of her sad little life. Way to go Glenn, we’re in Millington for ½ hour and your already attracting the trash tramps like a moth to flame.

Glenn told her he had to get going and came over to my room where we saw Miss Priss climb into her old jalopy with a busted window (complete with wax paper and duct tape) and a foam 8-ball on the antenna. Lovely.

With this scenario behind us, it was time to get out and start spending our per diem. So off to Beal Street we went to celebrate Cinco De Mayo.

There’s not a lot of Mexican Independence Day celebration that goes on in Memphis Tennessee. In fact, as a half-Mexican myself, I think I might have been the only representative in the state. And they might have made the other one leave just to keep under the state cap. Add in the fact that it was a Monday night and we were “Bored stiff in Memphis, walking alone with our feet ten feet off of Beal…” (for those that missed it, it was a reference to the song “Walking in Memphis” Please try to keep up…).

For dinner, we had some ribs (a mighty stereotypic if not racist thing to do in the South, I thought) and listened to a variety of Blues. Hell, we had the place to ourselves and learned a few things.

First, every entertainer thought it was good we joined them that night. They told us over and over.

Second, it seems these men are very sad and life has dealt them a raw deal. Again, this was reiterated to us many times.

Third, no one can look cool playing the harmonica, especially the only white guy in the band.

Fourth, B.B. King is the only name I recognized despite the hundreds of “big names” strewn from one side of Beal Street to the other which invariably had names like “Slappy,” “Pudge,” “Fingers,” or “Hound dog” somewhere in them.

We ended the night, I have to admit, on a high note when we listened to a particular good band and were amazed at some incredible guitar work called “chicken plucking.” Almost impossible to describe, it basically was pushing the strings in by the hole (notice the professional musical terms) and plucking them rapidly, creating a very unique sound when done right. I was truly impressed.

We returned to the hotel and Glenn was relieved that “Freakshow” was not there waiting for him. He assured me that if she showed up, he’d send her my way. I pissed on his hotel doorknob in return. Buddies till the end.


Saturday, May 10, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“DIE FIRST, THEN QUIT”
- UNKNOWN

Way too much has happened in my last BLOG to go into detail so all I can do at this point is provide bullets and then start from there.

Big Sur
- I finished the Big Sur Marathon on April 27th with a PR of 3:57:57.
- I finished the stories that you can read at http://www.grose.us/marathon/2003bsim.html
- I have a few more pics for the event that I haven’t developed and I’ll post them when I get them.

Wild Wild West
- I finished the Lone Pine Wild Wild West Marathon a week later on May 3rd with a course PR of 5:21:47, shattering my last year’s time by 35 minutes.
- I photo documented the entire event but have yet to write the stories. Please be patient because it’ll be a huge one.

Millington Trip
- With only a day’s rest, I traveled to Millington TN for 3 days of thesis work
- First night: “I was walking in Memphis, with my feet ten feet off of Beal…” Yes, knocked back a few cold ones on Beal Street on Cinco de Mayo but there’s not a lot of Mexican celebration going on in Memphis.
- Second night: tornado sirens ripped through the midnight air as we braved the storms all night. I traveled across the country just to get to the worst weather in the entire U.S.
- Third night, got the hell out of there.

Other than that, all I’ve done is become hopelessly behind in email, BLOG entries, and basic webpage maintenance. Next up, the 50 miler next weekend (muffled wimper…).


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