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Jason Grose's BLOG

July 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.


Thursday, July 31, 2003

Quote of the Day:
The only thing harder than running is not running. 
- New Balance ad

I really did mean to go into school today but I was OBE (Overcome By Events). The first one being something I’ve been meaning to do for a year and ironically cherished.

I roused my son out of bed because we had an appointment to get his military dependent ID card, something military kids proudly look forward to when they turn 10. Alex is 11 and for reasons that still aren’t clear, my wife took him in last year and got him a temporary, thus denying me of this right of passage for my boy. Not only that, but it had expired and had the wrong SSN on it so it was high time to rectify the situation.

You must understand why I have been putting this off. I will not even be kind: the woman in charge of issuing ID cards at this base is unequivocally one of the most annoying persons I’ve ever dealt with. Oh, she’s nice and jovial but too much so for the job she has. People coming to her usually do so as an extra errand not accounted for and therefore want to get in, get out, and get back to life. She, on the other hand, wants to talk about everything except the task at hand and the result is hours of waiting for her to complete tasks that require mere minutes. She is famous for this across the whole campus and if you have to deal with her, it’s known that you better bring reading material and block off half a day.

Silly me, I thought that making an appointment would rectify this. Coming down the hall at 1020 for my 1030 appointment, I could hear her loudly discussing some irrelevant topic having nothing to do with ID cards. Noting with dread that there was a couple waiting outside (normally not a bad sign since you’d be second in line but this translated to a potentially long period of time, considering this particular government worker) I entered the office and signed in while she continued her non-job-related discussion (something to do with the vacation the two current customers were going on). She looked over at me and told me to wait outside and after unclenching my jaw, I informed her I had a 1030 appointment and she told me that she hadn’t even got to her 1000 yet. I had to go to my happy place before I sent her to her very unhappy place.

It seems that the couple I saw outside were her 1000 and after a few more minutes of irrelevant discussion, she beckoned them. Because she talked so loud, it was hard to concentrate on my magazine and I found it amazing that while people were waiting, she had the gall to spend several minutes trying to remember a question she wanted to ask the outgoing customers. After the 1000 entered, she came shooting out of the office and flagged down the exiting couple, exclaiming “I remember what I wanted to ask you. How long did you serve?”

The answer, if you are interested (I wasn't) was 27 years and she seemed satisfied with that and returned to her office. Amazing.

Somehow, by the grace of God, the 1000 appointment was a simple one and I got in by 1040. To my surprise, the appointment went well and my plan worked. I didn't provide any information to her that was not business related, thus denying her the opportunity to pontificate. We got out of there in a record time and my boy got his ID card, which he sported proudly. I really felt like I had come out on top and the fact that this caused such feelings of success is a testament to how interactions with this department usually unfold.

“Really, it only took you 25 minutes for the ID card issuance? Did you have her in a choke hold or something?”

The rest of the day was a blur of chores: catching up on the newspapers, mowing the lawn, answering email, getting a 5 mile run in.

Speaking of which, I discovered that I’m a month overdue with my training schedule for the Marine Corps Marathon. One of my “Things To Do” was to print out my running schedule and when I did, I discovered what I thought to be a 12 week plan was actually an 18 week plan. Oops, looks like I’ll have to ratchet down to a 3:30 goal for the marathon vice the Boston qualifying time of 3:15. This way, I can shoot for 8 minute miles this year and be ready to go for the Boston in 2005. I have to hit 7:26 miles for Boston!!!

If you’re keeping score, here’s my progress from my “plan” from yesterday:

  • Spent most of the day hammering away at email and webpage
  • Read all my email and sent out 28 replies and have 23 waiting.
  • I caught up on all the old newspapers (an incredible feat if you know me, a person who had a stack of 6 month old newspapers littering his office.)
  • Finished a missing vacation BLOG about meeting an old girlfriend.

So what did I do that was school-related today? Sorry, I’d love to answer but I gotta go.

Free Advice for Today:
“If in a fight, hit first and hit hard.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 1997


Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Quote of the Day:
The Marine Corps is proud of the fact that it is a force of combined arms, and it jealously guards the integrity of its air-ground team. 
- General Keith B. McCutcheon, USMC, Naval Review, 1971

I thought my life was busy. As frequent readers, you know I always complain about how insanely busy I am but I took it to a whole new level by being out of town so let me get a few things out in the open right now:

  • I’ve been in Seattle for a week with very limited Internet access and even less “Jason” time
  • I received a cubic-butt-ton of email, 20 of which I haven’t even opened yet
  • I missed almost every day of BLOG entries
  • I got an essay assignment from my only class the day I left, due the day I returned
  • I have 3 newspapers to read (I only get Friday through Sunday) plus an unexplained Wednesday edition that showed up on my driveway this morning.

With that said, here’s my plan:

  • I’m putting in more computer time (if that’s possible) to catch up so be patient
  • I’m going to answer all my email (I always do) as fast as my little fingers can go
  • I’m going to maintain daily BLOG entries and provide retro-entries for the days missed (look for the links within the next couple of days’ entries). I will try to double up so it’ll take about a week to catch up.
  • I finished the *&^*(() assignment tonight so I don’t have time to do anything I mentioned above except this BLOG. The assignment was about the business model of Enron so I guess they have yet another casualty: my catch up time. Bastards!
  • I read the Wednesday paper to deflate after a horrible ride home. Wow, Bob Hope died.

OK, a BLOG about today:

I woke up and decided to get back on schedule after missing three workouts in the last week (although I ran almost every day) so I headed for the gym. I had a zillion things to do but I thought getting back on workout schedule would have a calming effect and forestall the excuse-factory that would churn to life if I skipped yet another day. I did a light workout and felt like I really accomplished something by the time I lumbered home to find my family still in the rack. I became insta-dick and roused them all up, the kids being the easiest by telling them if they wanted to go with me to pick up Buster, they had better get moving.

We drove to the kennel where the lady was happy to lift me of $112 in return for my beloved Buster who, upon seeing me, threw a paw right to my groin. Nice to see you too, buddy. The dog practically broke his own back wagging so hard and was shedding like an Eskimo in a sauna. In his galactic excitement, he ended up pummeling me, the kids, the handler, and even my truckasaurus. I was considering a dart gun but somehow I don’t think it would’ve helped.

Back at the house, my wife was compressing three weeks worth of “Carrie busy-work” into a few hours. She was a blur and God forbid you get in the way. I think if I would’ve stood in the corner, I would have been dusted, scrubbed, and polished. It must have been contagious because I threw Buster in the tub and scrubbed him down to get the kennel-dog aroma out of him. For his part, he allowed me to wash him with minimal looks of pure hate, which evaporated the moment he got out and received his “Pupperoni” treats. As an expression of his appreciation, he gave me yet another quick jab to the onions. He does this when he’s trying to jump up on me in excitement but I think he’s smarter than people think.

After he totally destroyed the tub, I volunteered to scrub it clean. OK, it was more along the lines of maintaining domestic tranquility but still, I took a year off my life scrubbing chemicals into the dog-filth ring that is my bathtub. But alas, it’s clean and so was I after I inaugurated the sparkling tub with a shower of my own. Rereading that, if you thought I meant I pissed in it, you’re a sick puppy. Seek help.

After making a minute dent in the mountain of things to do at home, I went to school to chip away at that task-mountain. I downloaded my 267 terrabytes of email and spent the better part of the afternoon reading, dumping, answering, or filing message after message after message... I email, therefore I am.

You would think after missing a week’s worth of class, I’d be eager to get back, or at least tolerate the experience. You’d think. But you’d be wrong. The class is a 2 hour bamboo chute up the old fingernails and consists of a student presentation foloowed by a discussion. Out of respect to the people that I like, I will not hammer their presentation I saw today. XML might be the wave of the future but today, it was a tsunami of boredom.

After dampening the desire to suck on the business end of a nine-mil, class was over and I bolted. Or at least I tried. For some reason, they shut off the back gate and everyone had to go through the main pin hole of a front gate. And when I say everyone, I mean the enire population of California. It was backed up further than I had ever seen it and it took 45 minutes to get go ½ mile and out the gate. What’s worse is that once you got up there, there was no apparent reason for the delay. If I’m waiting that long, I want to see 16 naked, bloody, clown corpses on fire being thrown around like hay bails by sumo wrestlers dressed up like babies, or something on that scale. Not just speedbumps! I mean, then I could say, “Oh, clown-cabobs being tossed. I understand.”

Because I have the patience of John McEnroe at a senior line judge tournament in the fog, I was utterly fuming by the time I got home. My family knew it was a “leave Daddy alone for a few minutes” kind of ride home and after a 15 minute power nap, I emerged somewhat civil. Steak and fries. Civiler. Finished homework. Civilest. Completed BLOG, totally mello, dude.

Stay tuned, I’ll catch up soon.

Free Advice for Today:
“Dust then vacuum.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 1997


Friday, July 25, 2003

Quote of the Day:
The Marines have landed and have the situation well in hand. 
- Attributed to many sources and popularized by the correspondent Richard Harding Davis during the late nineteenth-century

*Late entry

This was a surreal day to say the least. It started with the concept of visiting the parents of a high school girlfriend I'll call "Sarah" who I hadn’t seen since I graduated in 1987. I was close to them and wanted to drop in and let them know that the skinny kid who dated their daughter had made something of himself after all these years.

Other required background to this scenario you should know is that Sarah had broken up with me during my tumultuous senior year, right at my lowest point in my life. This caused years of resentment that festered within me until the tide of time wore down the pain to the point I could finally let go. During all these years, I had kept an ear out for information but with a very common name like hers, which she probably changed through marriage, I began to think I would never hear from her again. To make matters worse, I finally got over my anger and wanted to complete my healing by contacting her and straightening things out but then feared I’d never get the chance. That all changed when a fluke of fate (a friend’s mother dying and another friend attending the funeral running into Sarah) handed me her phone number late last year. I called but that’s another story.

This day, I was trying to follow my Mapquest directions to her parents' new home and having a bit of trouble. It seems that Mapquest thought a certain road still ran through what was now a walkway. After 20 minutes of driving in circles, I decided to hoof it with my son and we found the house. It was actually in a gated community so they were waiting for a call. I, on the other hand, crashed the security and showed up on their doorstep.

They were just as I remember them, although I probably wouldn’t have stopped them at a mall because my memory was not jarred until I actually saw them. I had always looked at these two as ideal parents that I wished were my own. They invited my son and me in their house and we sat down for a nice visit. They had seen my webpage and knew the basics about what I’d become so it wasn’t a total shock. We reminisced about the time I dated Sarah and everything was shaping up to a very cleansing visit.

Suddenly, her mom looked behind me, smiled, and said “We have a surprise visitor for you.” I turned my head to my right and there stood a tall woman with black hair and sun glasses, holding a baby. I had no idea who this woman was and my initial guess was Kathy, Sarah’s younger sister who would obviously look different after 15 years. She smiled and took off the glasses and the realization of this woman’s identity washed over me like tidal wave. It was Sarah.

For some reason, I thought Sarah was in Portland but I guess she had moved to the area while her Navy Officer husband went to a school. OK, now I ask you; what the hell am I supposed to do now?

I stood up and gave her an awkward hug, not hiding my utter surprise. I knew I had already overstayed my allotted time (I had a wedding rehearsal dinner to go to) but at the same time, knew that I was finally in the middle of the scenario I had thought about for years, while in the sands of MCRD San Diego, the sands of Yuma Arizona, the sands of Saudi Arabia, the sands of 29 Palms, and many other places around the globe.

Talking to Sarah, I realized she had not changed a bit and I remembered why I was so crazy about her. But at the same time, I realized how much I had changed and had no feelings for her other than nostalgia. I was so dependent on her and so wrapped up in our relationship that meeting her again after all these years, I discovered that much of my desire for her centered around the stability her life provided, as opposed to my upside down life. With that position rectified, I was able to look at her from a different perspective and it was important to me to show her that she was no longer my lifeline. That position permanently belongs to my wife and kids now.

She likely had no idea about these revelations as we sat and chatted. We told stories, recalled situations, and explained what our thoughts and feelings at the time in front of her parents and my son. I learned that she had cried to her mother when I stopped writing her during the summer between my junior and senior year (I was in Oklahoma). She apologized for dumping me and although it was something I had wanted to hear for years, it became a ridiculous expectation that I had abandoned before I even made contact with her. It’s funny how something I’d been obsessed with all these years became something I found meaningless once it happened. As I explained to her, what was the alternative; stay with me out of pity? It was the normal high school highs and lows of teenage love.

My son was quite a little man during the whole thing. For two hours, he sat on the couch quietly at a stranger’s house while we blabbed on about all manner of things. I was so proud of him and although he didn’t know it, he was a source of strength for me. He was a physical manifestation of my success and proof positive that my life was to be envied.

The last bit of the story ends with Sarah walking me out to my car. Again, it was surreal to be walking with her and she wanted to apologize again for all the pain she had caused. She wanted me to know that it was wrong of her to dump me, especially for Matt Crook (yes, that was his name) but that the relationship probably would have only survived a couple of more months since I was going into the Corps and she was going to college. I think it was her way of showing me that we were just not meant to be together. Those last moments really completed another ongoing feeling I had harbored for decades. A Garth Brooks’ song had always rang true and reminded me of her and this moment seemed to be a video that fit the words perfectly.

Unanswered Prayers:
Just the other night a hometown football game
My wife and I ran into my old high school flame
And as I introduced them the past came back to me
And I couldn't help but think of the way things used to be

She was the one that I'd wanted for all times
And each night I'd spend prayin' that God would make her mine
And if he'd only grant me this wish I wished back then
I'd never ask for anything again

Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers
Remember when you're talkin' to the man upstairs
That just because he doesn't answer doesn't mean he don't care
Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers

She wasn't quite the angel that I remembered in my dreams
And I could tell that time had changed me
In her eyes too it seemed
We tried to talk about the old days
There wasn't much we could recall
I guess the Lord knows what he's doin' after all

And as she walked away and I looked at my wife
And then and there I thanked the good Lord
For the gifts in my life

Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers
Remember when you're talkin' to the man upstairs
That just because he may not answer doesn't mean he don't care
Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers

Some of God's greatest gifts are all too often unanswered...
Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers

Free Advice for Today:
“Surprise an old friend with a phone call.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 1997


Thursday, July 24, 2003

Quote of the Day:
Literature is the immortality of speech. 
- August Wilhelm Von Schlegel

I went to a Mariner baseball game with my brother and although they lost, it was just as exciting as I expected it to be. We played Oakland and the spectacle that is Seattle baseball was worth the price of admission. (notice that I adopt Seattle’s team as “we” the moment I get back in town.)

We got down to the stadium, a brand new cathedral built atop the ashes of the imploded Kingdom, and got to the task of buying some tickets outside. The crowd was thick with excited fans ready to enter the stadium and the idea was to find someone, anyone, there that was selling two tickets, preferably real close to the field and dirt cheap. But we all know those two qualifications are mutually exclusive in these situations but we had the advantage of game time on our side because they had already started playing.

We discovered that the game was sold out so it was going to be a bit tougher to get tickets. This is one of those situations that I hate because you have to haggle with someone who is trying to rip you off while trying not to get fleeced. The first man we found selling tickets had two of them but one was on the 300 level and one on the 100 level. This entrepreneur was offering the incredible “buy one get one free” deal so for $35, we were in the game, albeit closer to the ball players than to each other. My brother wanted to snag them (although I didn’t know why) but I convinced him not to jump on the first “deal” we found so we moved on. The second guy had two tickets together on the 300 level for $35 each so we laughed in his face and high-tailed back to the first guy.

The reason Chris didn’t mind the 37 degrees of separation was because he had a friend who was sitting in the 100 level section and his plan was to just get in the game and then we would find 4 seats near his friend. In other words, he was depending on 4 open seats in the 100 level section at a sold out game and every usher in the place turning the other way while we jumped the seats. Yeah. OK. Got any lotto tickets while we’re at it?

As we made our way to the section we were hunting for, Chris ran into someone he knew. She was the older sister of his best friend from high school (“She used to buy us beer!!”) and Chris had to say hello to her husband so he left me on the catwalk as he made his way through the crowd to get to where his friend was.

Normally this would really piss me off but not this time. I was standing on the first catwalk at Safeco field looking at the field and if you have ever been to any professional baseball stadium, you know you can drink in that site for hours. I felt like a little kid looking at the crowd with young boy eyes. I was absolutely mesmerized.

I stood there for 5 minutes, taking in the view when I noticed that I was standing right behind the wheelchair section. To my right was an old man who, from the back, I saw was wearing military ribbons on his ball cap but from my angle, I couldn’t tell what they were. I looked down and saw he had a Marine Corps sticker on his “Rascal” wheelchair and that sealed it. I walked right over and put my arm around his left shouler while crouching down on his right. At first, he turned to look over his left but realized I was on his other side so he turned to me.

At first, he had some confusion in his eyes because who was this guy with his arm draped on his shoulder but I think the haircut might have given it away because his expression softened a bit. I introduced myself as Captain Jason Grose, USMC, and he broke out into a big smile. I simply explained to him that I saw his sticker and wanted to come say hello. I told him that I noticed his senior ribbon, which I could now see clearly, was a Purple Heart and asked him how he got it, Vietnam? He said he got it in Guam and now it was my turn to be surprised. I told him I respected the Marine vets who came before me and that he had laid down the reputation that we current Marines are simply trying to uphold. He seemed as genuinely appreciative of my comments as I genuinely delivered them.

I gave him a quick rundown of who I was and what I was doing and after a few minutes, I told him I’d let him get back to the game but just wanted to say hello. I parted with him a heartfelt “Semper Fi” and, like what often happens in these situation, he gave me a big smile and said, “Semper Fi, Sir.” To have a Marine in his 80’s, sporting a Purple Heart, who fought to the death in the jungles of Guam, call me “Sir” because I’m an Officer and he an enlisted Marine says so much about the organization I belong to. It never fails to feel “weird” because on the respect scale, I see him on another plane altogether and for him to call me "Sir" seems surreal. But that’s what is ingrained in him even decades after the sun set on his last day of active duty. God bless him.

I realized that we are the only service that plays out this little scene regularly. We Marines have no qualms about going up to strangers with Marine Corps stickers or paying our genuine respect to those who came before us.

We ended up getting those 4 seats in the 100 level and the usher did in fact look the other way. I watched that game with the excitement of a kid but in my heart, I kept a warmth for the older man across the stadium with shrapnel in his body and a Marine Corps sticker on his wheelchair. I hope you enjoyed the game, Sir.

Free Advice for Today:
“Vote.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 1997


Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Quote of the Day:
To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism; to steal from many is research. 
- Unknown

The trip from San Jose to Seattle was … interesting. Normally an hour and a half jaunt, it turned into and ordeal of Biblical proportions. OK, maybe not that bad but definitely midrange on the suck meter.

I thought I had it made: I got there 1 ½ hours before my flight and was in no hurry. I even stood in line to get my bag checked until I saw one of those E-confirmation stations. Standing there like a dope in a long line, I saw another women go right up to it, punch in her info, and she was out of there in like 3 minutes. Meanwhile, I was moving my bags a few centimeters at a time as the line “progressed.” Being the rebel that I was, I hopped out of line and went over to do the same. Sure enough, I put my info in and voila, I was walking away feeling oh-so-superior to the schmucks who hadn’t moved since I jumped out of line. Bless me and my opposable thumbs!!

My next dabble into preferential treatment came in the form of the USO. I had over an hour before my flight so I walked in to an empty lounge except for the elderly gentlemen manning the desk. I couldn’t believe it: a big open room with big soft couches, a big screen TV, and a ton of reading material. It had food (cherry pie and donuts, which I did not partake), a pool table, and even a computer terminal. I love the USO!!!

I was the only person there and sat on the couch to watch the news about Sadass Insane’s sons getting waxed and read the latest Marine Corps Times. In the middle of a busy airport, I was being treated to first class treatment and loving every moment of it. It’s not often when a serviceman can “get over” and that’s why I think the world of the USO. A word of advice for you servicemen: visit the USO any time you get a chance but don’t leave without making even a small contribution.

I left the USO and sauntered up to the gate (yes, I actually sauntered) to wait with all the other people but I made the mistake of sitting across from a family who had two obnoxious teenage boys, one in a wheelchair with a broken leg. This idiot kept wheeling around, doing wheelies, and being all-around annoying while his older brother talked loudly and to my disgust, had no problem with peppering his conversation with cuss words. I don’t know who I wanted to slap harder, him to his father who was sitting there letting it happen.

Finally our flight was ready to board after the plane got in late. Compunding the problem, one of the AC units in the plane was on the fritz so they had to fix it while the plane sat out in the hot sun. I waited until the final boarding call because I had a reserved seat and figured I’d rather wait in the airport than in a long line (which I’ll never understand why the others rush to wait in line) and then in the airplane. It ends up my plan failed because the line was still backed up out the door, down the staircase, and onto the flight line as some moron tried to figure out how to fit the 16 pieces of carry-on luggage into the size of a sugar cube above the seats.

By the time I got on, it was evident that the AC had been out because it was approximately the temperature of the sun’s surface with the added bonus of being muggy. Good thing I wore slacks and a long sleeve dress shirt.

I wiggled my way in (I had the window seat) and next to me was a woman who, after the pathetic attempts at conversation from the man next to her I learned was a personal trainer. The attempts of the business man reminded me of, well, a businessman’s lame attempts to hook up with a women on a business trip. I kid you not, this was some of the questions he asked, many after long, awkward pauses:

“So you must be in really good shape, huh?”
“Do you have a lot of male clients?”
"You must work odd hours."
“Do you train anyone famous?”

To this, she responded “If I did, you’d never know.” BAM! Take that, fatboy!!!

There was a bevy of similar sad statements but I think he finally got the clue when she got on her cell phone. It was at this point when she really started irritating me because she had the most stereotypical California, fake, Hollywood attitude. Her conversation, spoken so that everyone on the damn plane could hear, was with her boyfriend so everyone was privy to her dinner and cocktail plans for the evening. I wanted to throw a quick elbow so princess Pilates would have nappy naptime with a cell phone lodged up her nose.

But there was more bad ju-ju brewing. By the time the captain came over the intercom, it had been a half hour of sweltering bliss and he informed us that while they had the paperwork signed off for the maintenance (OK, I don’t care about the intricacies of your procedures, just get this bird in flight) but the tower wasn’t letting anyone go because of some big storm that, while not in our flight path, was diverting other planes into our path and we had to wait. The clincher was when he said we had an estimated wheels-up time of 5:10. It was 4:20. Now I’ll admit I wasn’t happy about this but you should have heard the wailing and nashing of teeth from the crowd. I wanted to donate a group bitch-slap.

Instantly about 100 cell phones came out while the passengers bitched and moaned to their loved ones about the delay, to include the Diva sitting next to me. As for me, I had a near-retarded moment on the way to the airport and thought that an In-and-Out burger and fries was a good idea for lunch but now in the cabin/sauna, the idea got worse by the minute. I felt like I had a beach ball sitting in my gut. Low times, my friend, but I suffered in silence which is more than I can say for my fellow travelers.

Once we got in the air, the turbulence was quite disturbing. I don’t know why I was so skiddish but I kept thinking we were going to crash. I guess it’s the post-911 syndrome (only the 2nd time I’ve flown since 911) but every bump and dip caused me to suck up half the seat cushion. I would have probably screamed like a women if we started losing altitude: not the greatest way to go out.

Random observation: I know it’s a cliché that the peanuts they provide are small but now they are delving into nanotechnology. The bag, and I use the term very liberally here, reminded me of the Sweet Tarts two pack you get at Halloween. It must cost more to package the half dozen peanuts that the actual contents! “Yeah, I’ll take 250 bags please.”

My plan had been to avoid all the irritations of plane travel by escaping into my music via my MP3 player. I knew that my batteries were extremely low but I had spares for the occasion conveniently packed away in the bag that I checked. I made this realization as I reached for the MP3 player and knew I had fumbled this football bad. It the distant hope that I could eek out a little music before the batteries crapped out, I put the headphones on and pushed play. Two notes of Chris Isaak's Wicked Game came through and then, silence. Lovely.

Alternating between trying to nod off and reading my magazines, I made it through the rest of the trip rather uneventfully. I was on the “wrong” side of the plane because all the cool sights were on the right side: Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, etc. But I did see the Oregon coast, yippee! But this was no big deal because I was on the wing and could only see slivers forward and aft. But what slivers they were!!!

When we landed, the crew asked us to stay seated because there were 7 passengers who had to get off the plane immediately to catch a close flight. It was the first time I’d ever seen this done and I was probably one of the few considerate people who didn’t mind, based on the sighs and evil looks from the other passengers. Go back to your cell phone you assholes!!! Even the little baby behind me didn’t cry as much as these idiots through the whole trip.

When I got off the plane, I met my family at the baggage claim and on the way back to my in-laws’ house, I marveled at the Seattle afternoon. It was the kind of beautiful, clear, calm afternoon that convinces hordes people (including me) that this is where they should set up permanent residence. It’s good to be home.

Free Advice for Today:
“Tape record your parents' laughter.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 1997


Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Quote of the Day:
It doesn't matter if you average 11-minute miles or sub-5's. If you've ever given it everything you had for 26 miles and still found a final kick ... you and I have run the exact same race. 
- Josh Cox, Marathoner, Top American, 2001 World Championships

Today was a busy day because I’m going out of town starting tomorrow and of course, I leave everything to the last minute which is a signal for everyone else to jump on the old hind-quarters. The NPS MWR boss wasn't satisfied with the webpage and wanted me to work on it. Sorry, it'll have to wait until I get back.

My other webpage project for the NPS Women's Tennis Team wanted a meeting tomorrow morning. Sorry, my thesis advisor already has me giving my thesis presentation to the Navy's Chief Information Officer (CIO). My plate already runneth over, maybe next week.

I just thought it was ironic that I don't have a lot of interaction with these people but the moment I plan to bolt out of town for a few days, here they come!!! I was like Yoda with a light saber, fending off laser blasts.

The day started by getting my lazy butt out of bed and make up for the Taco Bell outing last night. Ten miles later I was sufficiently repented and walked around my house in a daze. The only event worth mentioning is that I answered the age-old question of if a Captain pees in the woods. He does, my friend.

Next came the vet visit. After I got cleaned up, it was time to take Buster to get his shots because he’s board-bound while I’m frolicking to Seattle. I make it to the vet office and there are a series of a half dozen dogs in the waiting room who send Buster into a pulling frenzy until he gags himself, to which I get death looks from the other patrons. Have you ever seen that PetMeds commercial where the lady is being tugged around by her dog (purposely over dramatic to show how much of a pain it is to take your dog to the vet)? Well, that was me. Buster weighed in at a whopping 58 pounds but he dragged me around the waiting room like he was a tugboat. My only saving grace was the linoleum floor.

He got his shot. He got his nasal medicine. He got his groping. I got the bill. Like a dope, I let her talk me into buying the heart worm medicine ($37.50 for 3 months worth, cha-CHING!!!) and the Frontline Plus (another $37.50 for 6 months worth, cha-CHING!!!) even though I already used Advantage on him. Oh, but Advantage only covers fleas, not ticks, silly reader. And I had to open my big mouth and tell her we went camping last month and he’s had a few ticks. To her, this was received as “Let’s fleece him” and was adamant about getting him these meds because she was sure he already had heart worms and since they take 6 months to kick in, we could possibly stop them now since it’s only been a month (stop to breath). I swallowed it hook, line, and sinker. I’m such a sucker.

I could tell she liked animals (what vet doesn’t?) but to me, she had a few things that bugged me:

  • She was an alarmist. She all but verified that he had heart worms just because I didn’t have him on Heart Guard.
  • She badmouthed other vets, calling them mercenary which I concluded through context meant that they were only out to make people pay for medicines their pets didn’t really need. Hmmm, you mean like $75 worth maybe?
  • She kept shooting off all the shots he needed, didn’t need, should have, and the dates. My response was a very knowing “uh-huh.” I’m depending on the fact that she scribbled them down but most likely, a future fleecing is eminent.

So I did the math when I got home (after checking online to see if she meant to give me the bigger packages or something for the price I paid) and it ends up that old Buster will cost me 60 cents per day just for his medicine. I guess that’s not bad for the little knucklehead.

Then it was home for my post-10 mile run nap (a must so I don’t even want to debate it) and then laundry, cleaning the house, packing, and dinner.

On Thursday, it’s the 2 year anniversary of Buster’s arrival in the Grose household. He was one at the time so in the absence of a solid birth date, we just make July 24th the official date. (OK, I celebrate my dog’s birthday. Sad but it gets sadder). Taking my cue from my brother, I like to celebrate by cooking Buster a steak but since he’ll be in a kennel on Thursday, today is the celebration (woo-hoo!!). Carrie thinks I’m nuts and chastised me not to get a $7 dollar steak or soemthing stupid like that. I got a $5 rib eye with the bone.

The idea was to cook his steak and then have a Smart Choice dinner so that I could maximize my weight loss before the wedding. As you have probably surmised, that plan crumbled. Birthday or no birthday, wedding or no wedding, I’m not gonna eat frozen chicken bits while Buster munches on a steak. I compromised by splitting it with him (come on, he doesn’t even have a clue what’s going on in the first place!!) Anyway, I spent over a $100 on the furry prince today so he’ll gets what he gets. Happy birthday!

Gotta go, I got a steak to cook.

Free Advice for Today:
“Trust in God but lock your car.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Monday, July 21, 2003

Quote of the Day:
I still need Marines who can shoot and salute. But I need Marines who can fix jet engines and man sophisticated radar sets, as well. 
- General Robert E. Cushman, Jr., USMC, 17 May 1974

I received this letter from Dr. Rob Doyle, MD, who was LCpl Doyle with me during the first Gulf War. It's a response to the BLOG entries made concerning the round 1 and round 2 of the ongoing email saga between me an a former Marine who intends to write a Swofford/Jarhead-like book "about the dichotomy that exists between the officer and the enlisted ranks."

I think the Doctor says it all...


I am writing this letter in response to the comments of the former Marine, and aspiring author, recently presented on Captain Grose's BLOG. I felt compelled to make a few observations of my own, both as a former enlisted Marine and long-time friend of Jason's from his earliest days in the Corps.

I served with Captain Grose from 1989-92 in MALS-13 at MCAS Yuma, AZ. Working in a neighboring com/nav shop, I knew him then as Lance Corporal, then Corporal Grose. We served together for seven months in Desert Shield and Desert Storm. I have been present for the birth of his son, shook his hand as a newly commissioned officer, and watched him grow through nearly a decade and a half in the Corps. I have had the privilege of knowing him as both enlisted and an officer.

You may say that this kind of history does not allow for an objective opinion, but I think it lends credence to what I can tell you about who he is and why your comments are unjustified.

The military is a world subject to the same faults and frailties of any organization. Those faults are what make us human. The people we choose as leaders are expected to do their best to overcome those faults, to provide the example for everyone to follow. Marine Corps Officers are no different as basic human beings than anyone else. You will find men and women whose character and level of integrity fall at various points along the bell curve. It is hoped that in their training and development as an officer they find the strength to identify and overcome those faults. Some do, some do not.

It is the point of peer review that those who fail to grow do not find their way further up the ranks. As a civilian, it is not my place to comment on the efficacy of this system. What I can say is that I, like you, witnessed a variety of good and bad examples of leadership in both the enlisted and officer corps.

From a Staff Sergeant who lazily napped in the shop while I sweated under the sun building his bunker, to a Captain who threw his cammie top aside and dared me to fill as many sandbags as he did - in a working party filled with privates and lance corporals. Lieutenants who left Saudi early while the rest of the squadron waited another month in the sand until their turn on the “freedom plane” came up. A sergeant who was the first guy out the hooch, e-tool in hand when the call for a work-detail came around. I can think of dozens more, both enlisted and commissioned.

All of these people had the chance to act like a Marine, be a leader of men, to do the right thing. Some chose to, some did not. The men who work with them see them for what they are. It’s reflected in the faces and the actions of their troops and hopefully in the evaluations they receive. It’s not a perfect world, though, and sometimes the chaff makes its way with the wheat.

I befriended and came to respect Jason because he and I looked at the responsibility of leadership through similar eyes. He made many of the same observations I did about the quality of leadership within our unit and of those around us. He is a man of strong character, and a Marine who believes in the integrity of the Corps. He has never taken the job lightly. I can honestly say I have met few people in my life who work as hard as he does to defend it. He leads through example. And that, my friend, is the strongest form of leadership there is.

I believe Jason became an officer because he loved the Corps and felt he had something to offer as a leader and mentor to his troops. The Corps gave him that chance because he proved as an NCO that he was willing to bust his tail to be the best Marine he could. He worked exceptionally hard through MECEP, gained his commission, and continued to serve his country in an exemplary manner in every billet handed him since.

Your comments about the privileged officer who partied through college, bossing the troops around, and driving a luxury car are base and offensive. You speak in broad generalizations about a group of people that you loathe for their position of authority because you did not hold it. You focus on the worst and ignore the best aspects of the Corps because it will not support the argument of this book you plan to clip to Swofford’s coattails.

You make light of a Marine’s opinion because he doesn’t lead in an infantry unit - as if the Corps exists in a vacuum and only on a platoon level. A Marine succeeds in battle only because of the support of his tanks, artillery, air wing and logistics. The contribution and relevance of leadership should be appreciated in all facets of that organization, not just in the infantry.

Finally, what of this dichotomy? Yes, there are some differences in the relationship of officers with one another and the enlisted. They are not treated the same by the system, and yes, there is a difference in compensation and benefits. How, I ask you, does this differ from the rest of the free world? Organizations develop leaders, giving them the responsibility of their positions and ask them to hold themselves to a standard. Along with that responsibility comes benefits. It is not only the reward for shouldering the weight of that job, but also to attract talented individuals and maintain them.

Enlisted personnel don’t call an officer "sir" or "ma’am" because officers need someone to make them feel important. They are your leaders. They are the people charged with the responsibility of leading you into battle, organizing and developing your endeavor, whatever that may be. They are, from a mission standpoint, not your friends and your relationship is not a casual one by definition. That is life, and it extends far beyond the confines of the military.

Your opinions are your own. The hard work of past Marines gave you the right to express them, and I am thankful for that. I hope you remember that fact as you write the pages of your book. I also hope you consider the last two paragraphs I wrote. Whatever your experience may have been in that 4 year snapshot of the Corps, I have no doubt you felt slighted in your relationship with the officer Corps. Those perceived differences may have existed for a reason, maybe even an important one.

You may have seen the worst in some people, but I’ll bet you saw the best in some of them too. Make sure you let people know that. There are men and women in the Corps who love being a Marine, and work hard to be strong examples of leadership to their troops. They foster those principles in those around them, and this country benefits greatly from their presence. They exist right along with people who let us down as leaders and make us question their position as officers.

It will take courage to write about them both.

Semper Fi,
Robert F. Doyle, MD
(USMC 1988-92)


I really considered leaving this entry with Dr. Doyle's comments but I just had to say a few things. First, consider that he got out as a Lance Corporal and put himself though medical school to become a doctor. If there was anyone who could claim to be slighted by the Corps, it would be Rob because he was one of the finest Marines I've ever known at any rank. But despite the Corps' oversight, he remains loyal and went out in the world to make a spectacular future for himself, using the lessons he learned in the Marine Corps mixed with natural intelligence and perseverance. I consider my professional accomplishments miniscule compared to his.

I was humbled when I read his response and he echoes my feelings about the Officer Corps I've felt since I was an 18-year-old recruit. To this day it's this perception, this understanding of the responsibility an Officer must uphold that keeps me striving higher and higher, never feeling like I'm quite there. It is the vision I strive to live up to and read Rob's description like I'm still the wide-eyed teen wondering how I could ever stand shoulder to shoulder with such men and women. I have 4 years to get there and while I doubt I ever will, that does not stop me from trying every single day.

It is for these reasons that I've come to realize that I am not personally offended by the former Marine's attack on the Officer Corps. I'm enraged from the perspective of that young Marine that believed. I'm not annoyed because I'm an Officer, I'm infuriated as an enlisted believer. As an Officer, I say you have your opinion and you should reconsider your faulty perception. As a Sergeant, I invite you outside and well see what an enlisted shitbird gets when he badmouths my Officers. Someone better call 911.

Free Advice for Today:
“Don't accept 'good enough' as good enough.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Sunday, July 20, 2003

Quote of the Day:
The bended knee is not a tradition of our Corps. 
- General Alexander A. Vandegrift, USMC, to the Senate Naval Affairs Committee, 5 May 1946

You want to know what really creeps me out? When I’m sitting in my house all alone and my dog starts going bonkers like he hears something. It’s especially unnerving at night but still spooky during the day.

Today it happened and I went to the window to see what he was all excited about. Nothing. Absolutely nothing; no people walking by, no cars, no animals. Just the stillness of a Monterey afternoon. But he still insisted on going nuts and running from the front of the house to the back, whining and carrying on.

Finally I saw what he was all in an uproar about: I spotted a small cat across the street. Ohhh, how Buster likes him some kitty so I teased him by acting all excited myself and really got him going. Stupid dog. Oh well. Here are a pic I took this evening out the back of my house. Sometimes living in Monterey just takes your breath away.

(click for bigger pic)

Free Advice for Today:
“Hold puppies, kittens, and babies any time you get the chance.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Saturday, July 19, 2003

Quote of the Day:
Your Marines having been under my command for nearly six months, I feel that I can give you a discriminating report as to their excellent standing with their brothers of the army and their general good conduct. 
- General John J. Pershing, USA, in a letter to Major General Commandant
George Barnett, USMC, 10 November 1817

Today was a spectacularly non-eventful day; just me and Buster. I did go see Terminator 3 and you can read all about it here but be warned, there are spoilers.

Email has dried up (even though I have quite a few pending) after spending way two much time the last couple of days defending the Marine Officer corps. No email in response to my last so either he gave up or is rearing back for a monstrous response. I hope it’s the latter since I’ve already spent too much time on this joker.

All the magic has broken in my house. You see, normally, I have magic drawers, magic cabinets, and a magic kitchen. I wear clothes, throw them in the magic hamper and within a couple of days, they magically reappear in my dresser. Meals would magically appear and dirty dishes would magically get from the counter where I left them to clean in the cabinets. I’ll have to let my wife know about this problem when she gets back from visiting family.

Here are a few lessons I’ve learned while the wife’s been away:

  • A man has no natural concept of how long you should water flowers with a garden hose
  • Wooden, Pampered Chef spoons will burn when the end gets too near gas flame
  • A man has no idea where to buy a replacement wooden, Pampered Chef spoon
  • I’ve been fully domesticated evidenced by the fact that I still put the toilet lid down even when the wife is away.
  • Salad only lasts three days in the refrigerator
  • Watching movies at home with the volume up loud enough to crack plaster is cool
  • The dryer makes a perfectly good iron
  • Cuddling up to a warm dog at night is much different than cuddling up to a warm wife (although probably pretty much the same for the wife).
  • The “volume-to-stink” ratio that tips the call of when to take out the trash is a tough call.
  • Finding out how to set the microwave to 50% power is akin to landing the Space Shuttle remotely.
  • My Internet connection CAN stay on for days at a time.
Free Advice for Today:
“Take along two big safety pins when you travel so that you can pin the drapes shut in your motel room.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Friday, July 18, 2003

Quote of the Day:
Never write when you're angry but don't let the truth ferment either!” 
- Captain Jason D. Grose

Round 2 of the ongoing email saga between me an a former Marine who intends to write a Swofford/Jarhead-like book "about the dichotomy that exists between the officer and the enlisted ranks." He hopes to sell a million copies.

(Read Round 1 first)

Here are his thoughts in response to my email:


Thanks for your sincere thoughts. Just for clarification purposes: my intent was not to personally attack you as a Marine even though you seemed a bit defensive.

Your emotional response is the kind of rhetoric that I expected from a Marine Captain. (The fact that you weren't in the infantry and in a maintenance outfit and were later given the post of Adjutant also blurs your vision a little, come on, admit it) Such patriotism is to be expected from the privileged few. Everything has been going your way: non-infantry billets, NROTC, and now you sit behind a desk as an Officer to boot.

Do you have any idea how it feels to go on a force march and not bathe for days? Do you know how the Marines feel right now in Iraq sitting in a tank smelling sweaty feet and dirty armpits not knowing where the next RPG will come from? We're not talking about the infantry training that was sporadically taught to you in TBS in between your leadership classes. We're talking about the day-in and day-out monotony and disgust of low hygiene, low pay, low respect, kind of life for grunts? I would suspect that you do not.

You base your opinions on positions just like so many other officers: on top of the mountain, everything seems great. Only in your case, you post a website. Everything about you as an officer is cookie cutter: God bless the USA, I hate Jane Fonda, I love mom, and apple pie, yada, yada, yada. THINK about what you are saying; you're talking group speak that is consistent within your own ranks. I submit to you to go beyond your environment and "see" what's really going on. Look at the commercials for military recruiting. They're not about mom and apple pie, they're about obtaining technical skills, getting money for college, or traveling to exotic destinations, everything else BUT the kind of patriotic intentions that was so obvious in your response. Honestly, be my guest and go ask 10 enlisted guys why they joined the Corps and you'll get everything from "I just wanted to leave home and do something different" to "I wanted to learn about avionics." Now compare these statements to your entire website and you'll see two entirely different sets of perception of the Marine Corps. Oh ya, don't think that the majority of SNCO's stay in because of love of country and the Corps but because its a steady job with steady pay.

Don't misconstrue my points either, I bleed red, white and blue just like anyone else; I just happen to understand that OTHER opinions exist and there are well-founded facts surrounding them. However, in my experiences, an Enlisted man attempting to explain this concept of a seemingly alternative universe in which people aren't as gung ho as the Officer would have been tantamount to committing treason!

You're right, Mr. Swofford is making a gazillion bucks badmouthing his experiences in the Corps. However, he is not lying. He is simply telling the truth and echoing the sentiments of all Marine Enlisted. Why is that conservatives such as yourself (come on, admit it, you're a Republican) always believe that if someone paints a "bad" picture of the U.S. and its dear military institutions is somehow committing heresy? I would argue that its not; it just called seeing things like the rest of "us" see it. Remember, only 25% of this great country of ours is college educated and only 10% of the manpower in the Corps is an a commissioned status. What do you think the other 75% are doing without college degrees; (I assume you've already heard all the reports about the disparity in pay between those will a college degree and those without one). Do you think they're showing off their webmastering skills and using MS Publisher or MS Front page and posting website like yours? Do you think they're out protesting the anti-war protesters?

What do you think that 90% of the Corps is doing on Saturday mornings? Eating at fine restaurants? Drinking with Jason Grose at the Officer's Club, (not Capt. Grose mind you, since you guys have a special privilege and understanding that you guys can get away with calling each other by your first name if you're of the same rank of course)? Do you think they're out driving luxury cars with blue stickers that get saluted even if you're in civilian clothes? Playing a round golf at the Officer's golf course and thinking how they'll do on the back nine? Thinking how smart they were to choose 50% of high-3 base pay for retirement over an instant $30K retention bonus?

You know what they're doing? They're watching Jerry Springer, Word Wrestling Federation, the Bachelorette, Temptation Island, Survivor, and just trying to scrape enough money to get laid, rent a nice apartment, or save up some money for a decent stereo. The ratings for the previously mentioned tabloid shows are very high and yet most people I know deny it! I'm telling you, just as our society has large underclass of people watching these shows the U.S. Marine Corps is full of people just scraping to get by and live a decent life. To dismiss their hurts, wants, desires and opinions just because you don't understand that you are living a privileged life is a slap in their face.

I suggest that you carefully read Mr. Swofford's book to get an insight as to what goes on in the mind of a real Enlisted Marine. I'll also suggest that you read Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States" to gain an understanding to the other side of U.S. history that is not taught in high schools but is popular in college academia. Its a powerful book referenced in the movie "Good Will Hunting." Read it. If you ever get to the part of Lincoln's famous "Spot Theory" behind the true motives of the Mexican-American war, its well documented in the National Archives. http://www.archives.gov/digital_classroom/lessons/lincoln_spot_resolutions/lincoln_spot_resolutions.html
The entire book is based on facts that you can research and validate yourself; I just validated one small piece to help you get started. I make this point to illustrate to you that just like Zinn's book is believed to be "revisionist" by many conservatives even though its based on facts, my opinions of the Officer corps is based on true events and the culmination of research and responses like yours, NOT fantasy.

Remember, 99% of Enlisted Marines weren't as fortunate as you to get into MECEP, BOOST, ECP, Naval Academy, Warrant Officer Program, etc. Your emotional response and defense to your Officer Corps only validates what I already knew to be true: life has been good to you, you went to college and partied, you get to walk by and make guys 20 years older than you call you sir since they're Enlisted, you get paid so much money you don't have to worry about it according to your own words, you get to certify anything a true copy, you get a nice promotion letter signed not by your CO but by the President himself, you get to boss people around, you get to wear nice dress whites, and on top of all that, you're allowed to call each other by your first name....a bit of an irony for such a well-to-do, rigid, by the numbers, and high minded organization.

Respectfully,
-(name witheld by Capt Grose)-

P.S.
No, I didn't forget what Semper Fi meant. In fact, I'll let you in on a little secret: I actually did like the Marines and I tell everyone that should they decide to go into the military, there's only one way to go: the Officer ranks. Maybe you're the one that is truly "ignorant." Errr...as you were, sorry, by you're leave sir!


And here's my response which this time took me only a few minutes this time to pull out (never write when you're angry but don't let the truth ferment either!)


You seem to know so much about me and the Officer Corps in general. The points you argue make it blatantly obvious that you are way off base and I really don’t think anything I write will bring you into the light, but a couple of points of clarification.

You seem to forget that I spent 7 ½ months in the desert of Saudi Arabia. Do I know what it’s like to live in shitty conditions for extended periods of times? Does 7 ½ months as a Corporal in the desert meet your qualification for “day-in and day-out monotony and disgust of low hygiene, low pay, low respect, kind of life”? Well, maybe not as shitty as a pure grunt, admittedly, but shitty enough to remember what it was like. And as an Officer assigned to a tank battalion and an infantry regiment, I can say that I was not totally devoid of the infantry life. If you know anything about those units, you know they drag along their staff just for the sheer joy of watching them flounder. If you think being an Adjutant in a combat unit is sitting behind a desk, well, spot yet another miss on your scorecard. You have no idea (despite your seemingly omnipotent view).

Commercials: are we watching the same commercials? You must be watching the Army ones because the last time I checked, Marine Commercials did not talk about “obtaining technical skills” or “getting money for college” but rather stepping up to a challenge and invoking patriotism. In fact, they go out of their way to avoid such lures as money or skills. That’s what makes us meet our recruitment numbers month in and month out.

Yes, a lot of people join for other than patriotic reasons but why the Marine Corps? They could get the same jobs, better living conditions, etc. from other services. If you could read the email that I get, you’d see that a great deal still believe in patriotism. Even if my perception is skewed because those who are like minded would be the ones who write, I don’t get a lot of dissenting views (that’s why I ‘m taking time to write all this. You count among about a half a dozen in a decade who have your point of view, out of the thousands of emails I get).

I have first hand knowledge of your explanation of gung ho attitude. I was all but ostracized from my fellow enlisted Marines for the mere fact that I didn’t participate in the “cool” habit of bitching about the raw deal the Corps handed me. They didn’t like me telling them to stop bitching and make a better life for themselves. We all get the same shot and I was in the same position as them up through the rank of Sergeant. When I was accepted to MECEP, things got worse but like now, I refused to hop on the “bitching bandwagon.” If a dirt poor half-Mexican can work his way up through the enlisted ranks and earn a commission, not only can anyone who wants to but they should not be apologetic for earning success. I was not given anything and remember my roots.

Saturday mornings: yet another silly example of your stereotyping. You really think that’s what Officers are doing on a Saturday morning? Amazing. After a trip to the barracks to see if everyone made it home OK, I’d conduct the remedial PT for the Marines that needed it (running step by step with them). Afterwards, I was in the shop working. When I could, I was tutoring or coaching youth sports. I was never alone in these Saturday morning activities because my fellow Officers were doing the same thing while their Marines slept off their Friday night antics. My kids never even knew I had a two day weekend like they did and many times, I worked through Sunday (when I was home). What do I do now? At 0700 I hit the road for a couple of hours, running until I’m nearly blind. What do you do?

The first name thing seems to stick in your craw, too, and to tell you the truth, it does me too. I hate it and it’s a carryover from the Navy. The shitty thing is that if you don’t, and use rank/name like enlisted, it’s a sign of standoffishness rather than a sign of respect as I always looked at it. So I rarely use it and it makes me look like a jackass sometimes but some things are just too ingrained.

“life has been good to you” – yes, would you like me to apologize? Better yet, maybe it all just “happened” to me and the hard work had nothing to do with it. Remember, we all had the same shot.

“you went to college and partied” – Really, you think a Sergeant supporting a wife and two kids while paying for college and living on the local economy does a lot of partying? You think a Sergeant who had to work a second job while finishing up an engineering degree and participating in all the NROTC requirements does a lot of partying? You believe that a man 10 years older than the norm who still has to keep in top physical shape while maintaining a 3.8 GPA in a technical degree has the time, energy, or money to live the party life? Yeah, my party started at 0400 and ended past midnight.

“you get to walk by and make guys 20 years older than you call you sir since they're Enlisted” – that was always strange to me but I always pay them the respect they deserve and they knew it. It doesn’t bother the good ones since they’re professional enough to know the difference.

“Do you think they're out driving luxury cars with blue stickers that get saluted even if you're in civilian clothes?” - Saluting bothers you that much? Did you ever consider that an Officer has the same obligation to salute YOU back? The enlisted Marine initiates it but the return salute is the exact same: a recognition of professionalism and respect. You see it as a chore, I see it as an exchange of respect.

Luxury cars? Would that be my brand new 92 Chevy truck that I got while enlisted or my wife’s 2000 Saturn with 100K miles? Maybe you’re speaking of my 1985 Sentra that belched out blue smoke and was held together with bubblegum and Band-aids until it just got too tired to live. If you ever noticed, it was the lance corporal with a maxed out loan and 22% interest that had the new car. Most officers I know past the rank of lieutenant drive beaters because they have a family to support. But with all that money, we must be hiding our Lexus and Jag in the two car garage, right?

“you get paid so much money you don't have to worry about it according to your own words” – again, you’d have me apologize for this? Anyway, the money isn’t mine, it’s my family’s and the benefit has always been they’re comfort, not mine. Money is never a problem unless you have none but even as a PFC, I managed. If I could get through college on Sergeant’s pay, well the hard work allowed me financial comfort for my family and it was worth it. But if it means that much to you as a point of contention, let’s discuss how much I could be making as a civilian. From that point of view, who’s getting paid with more respect for their qualifications? Oops, I forgot, you think Officers don’t work hard so it’s kind of a moot point.

“you get to certify anything a true copy,” – this is a huge disparity between the ranks for you? OK, so I can save $5 for not going to a notary. Nail my balls to the wall.

“you get a nice promotion letter signed not by your CO but by the President himself,” – You’re right! Yet another huge bennie. Wow, you’ve enlightened me.

“you get to boss people around,” – one time I was waiting to go to the rifle range and the cattle car was late. Everyone was bitching about it and when it showed up, only one did so we had to cram into it. Along with everyone else, I mooed my way in and was asshole to elbow with the rest. Someone finally asked me what I was smiling about and I told them. “So far this whole evolution has been a fuck story.” “So why are you smiling, Sir?” “Because I had nothing to do with it, I’m not in charge, and I won’t get my ass handed to me by the CO.” This illustrates that you have to be careful what you asked for. All I wanted to do was be in charge when I was enlisted because I thought I knew the better way to skin the cat. As an Officer, you get to the point that it’s refreshing to be a brick in the wall again. BTW, I got my ass chewed anyway because I was the senior man.

“you get to wear nice dress whites,” – I don’t own any. Anyway, the enlisted dress blues are superior than anything an Officer wears.

Oh, and I don’t use Publisher or Frontpage. I use Dreamweaver.

You were right, I am emotional when it comes to my profession of arms. You make some wild assumptions about what I’ve known, experienced, and/or perceive without really knowing what the reality is. You seem to think my reality is off kilter but for the life of me, I can’t figure out how much more “qualified” I could be in your eyes to speak of the enlisted/officer comparison. I’ll go toe to toe with you on exposure to Marines in quantity, from the perspective of 8 different ranks over 16 years. You conveniently dismiss my points as group rhetoric but these are the experiences I’ve observed, not just heard about.

You have your opinions and good on ya but make sure they are based on the reality you so vocally ascribe to knowing. If your assumptions about me personally are so far off the target, stand back and consider if your other interpretations about this entire subject is well-supported on the scale required to write authoritatively. Please tell me you didn’t use the same powers of observation and interpretation for forming your opinions about the Officer Corps in general as you did with diagnosing my existence.

Free Advice for Today:
“Be the first to fight for a just cause.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“If you write anough words, someone is bound to use some of them against you.” 
- Captain Jason D. Grose

This is one of the emails I was talking about yesterday. Below his email, I've included my response. What do you think?


Subject: Officer vs. Enlisted

Hello, you have a good website with a wealth of general information. Thanks for maintaining such a site.

In any event, I'm in the process of conducting research for a book that I plan to begin writing soon about the dichotomy that exists between the officer and the enlisted ranks. I was once an Enlisted Marine (joined '87), got out ('91), and then went on to college. Now, I'm a graduate student of the Naval War College in the D.C. area.

I had some very interesting and negative experiences dealing with officers during my time in the Corps. I just wanted to get your rebuttal regarding my own thoughts that follow. For instance, you seem to paint a very generic and clean picture when you describe the differences between officers and enlisted men. Is it because you are hesitant to tell the "truth" since you remain an active duty Captain or is it because that's the way you really feel and just not wish to elaborate further to a prospective reader?

I personally suspect that your feelings may come from what you perceive to be the truth based on your experiences. However, keep in mind that you are not really living a "regular" military life. Your MECEP experience of roughly 4 years coupled with your current stay at the NPS of probably two more years is skewing your perception of the Fleet Marine Force. You've been involved with academia for nearly half your Marine Corps experience if you include your MOS school. Typically, such environments are collegial in nature and may make things seem better than they actually are.

However, I only point this out to get your response because I plan to paint a darker picture than your general thoughts and opinions on the subject. My experience with the officer ranks involved cheating, lying, racism, aristocracy and narcism just to name a few.

As an example, isn't it fair to say that if your word were to be placed up against say that of a PFC, you would definitely be believed over the PFC? Certain men with such knowledge and power between the ranks may begin to develop a sense of superiority over the enlisted and begin to wield power to their liking. To suggest that Marine Officers are benevolent "father figures" as you describe seems a bit oversimplified and makes the reader believe that Officers are kind of like doctors who want to help people and nurture them back to health. I would argue that's not exactly true and that Marine Officers are in the business of protecting and defending not personal growth over their troops.

In any event, please do not take this as a personal attack to your current status or opinions. I only seek to provoke you to think and provide me with some feedback. I do not intend on quoting you or anything like that and you can keep this e-mail as a record of me saying so if you'd like. Again, just looking for your comments and at the same time giving you food for thought.

I'm really excited about this project since the publishers I have been in communication with have assured me that no other book has ever been published detailing the negative sides of military officers, their privileged military life, and the major differences of every day life between the ranks. Hope to sell a million copies. Semper Fi.


And here's my response which took me a few days to pull out (never write when you're angry!)


Thanks for your email and I will answer some of your questions below.

First, I must say that I find it questionable that you have the perspective to write negative portraits of the Marine Officer Corps when you have not experienced that existence from the inside. Your comment “…Marine Officers are in the business of protecting and defending not personal growth over their troops” shows that you have no idea what the actual belief system is when it comes to Officers.

I do not question that you had negative experiences with Officers but to base your overall view on those experiences is analogous to me labeling all staff NCOs as fat, lazy, stupid, selfish, and undisciplined, based on the argument I’ve met more than a few like that. The vast majority have been quite the opposite of that description and if you feel that the bad Officers you dealt with are the majority, your exposure pool is too small to write an authoritative expose’.

I write my feelings on my website from experience, as you mention, because that’s all we have to go on, is it not? To me, it is the “truth” and is not toned down or up according to some mandated Officer creed.

Your assumption that I have not had a “regular” career is yet another example of your flawed knowledge base and proof you are missing important details when it comes to the existence as a Marine Officer. Yes, I’ve spent almost half of my career in a scholastic environment but that is the nature of every Officer. After OCS and 6 months at The Basic School, a new officer is sent to an MOS school (similar to enlisted Marines.) He can then expect to spend one tour in the Fleet (2-3 years) before he is sent to a professional school or B Billet. If he is lucky, he returns for Company command but is then hustled off to another school as a senior Captain. Upon returning from there, he’ll have to do a staff billet at the battalion or regimental level and might get to be an XO. Then, you guessed it, off to school and when he returns, more staff work or, if he is good, command as the CO. Off to school again. After that, the rest of his time is spent either in the Fleet at higher levels or senior level courses.

But you were right; I have not had a regular career but for a different reason: I’ve actually spent more time in the Fleet than most Marines at my TIS. And if you think that I’ve been somehow shielded from the arduous existence of most Marines, we’ll once again, you speak from a position of ignorance. Right out of the commission chute, I was put in arguably the worst MOS any Officer could receive (Adjutant). The only person who gets reamed harder than the Adj is the CommO. But what also resulted from that assignment was to see behind the curtain at the higher levels. The Adj is a confidant and generally sees the warts behind the scenes; stuff young officers rarely see. I could elaborate but suffice it to say that I’ve taken my lumps like all Officers and your assessment of my exposure to the “real” Marine Corps not only falls flat but I would go as far to say that I write from a wider perspective than most; that of an enlisted and commissioned Marine.

You assume that what you saw from your level was the entire picture and then categorized your impressions from there. Again, I don’t know the exact scenarios that you describe but cheating, lying, racism, aristocracy and narcissism are not common traits within the Officer Corps if only for the fact that an Officer exhibiting those traits would not last long because much like the enlisted ranks, these people are soon discovered and viciously policed out of a position of authority.

What you don’t understand (and I doubt if these words will convince you) is that what you see as a hokey concept of Officers acting like fatherly figures is really at the core of the Officer. From the moment I was commissioned, I knew that I existed not for myself but for the Marines put in my charge. Being an Officer is a life of servitude.

Your scenario of the Officer and the PFC, devoid of any other circumstances, is a fair assessment. Why? Because in any organization, you must have someone in authority and with that authority comes a special trust. And with that trust, comes an immense responsibility that every Officer feels the burden of protecting. When the PFC’s word is put against an Officer’s (again, without any extenuating circumstances), the Officer must be taken at his word because to him, that is the basis of his authority and is not something he will ever surrender. Officers are screened with a much finer filter than the average enlisted man and instilled with a deep abiding belief that honesty and integrity are unwaverable. An average enlisted man has a greater tendency to stretch the truth, especially when it comes to getting into trouble. I know I did but after I became an Officer, I felt an enormous responsibility to be vigilant across the board with my word. Eventually (and thankfully) it intertwined with my personality until it was just a part of me.

But I don’t live in a utopian dream and believe everything is a bowl of cherries within the Officer ranks. There are a few kinks in the hose in places but to purport that “Certain men with such knowledge and power between the ranks may begin to develop a sense of superiority over the enlisted and begin to wield power to their liking” and apply this to enough Officers that you consider it rampant is ridiculous. With power comes responsibility and both are heavy burdens that most Officers take seriously enough to spend their careers learning how to use it for the benefit of their Marines. I’ve seen Officers who are best friends go at each other like rabid dogs when it came to competing for the benefits for their own Marines (and this at levels from 2ndLt to full bird Colonels).

The sad part is that for those enlisted Marines that assume they see the entire picture really believe that the Officer life is riddled with excess and self-serving comforts. Do you know why an Officer gets paid more than enlisted? I didn’t until I read it. The sole purpose of the higher pay is to remove any distraction of financial matters so he can concentrate on leading his Marines. The trade off is unquestioned and unwavering dedication to leading his Marines which, if you had ever experienced it, is far more difficult than any enlisted chore. I’ve worked harder, been more tired, and spent more hours at work as an Officer than I ever did as an enlisted Marine. But all the enlisted Marine sees is the Officer gets more money. What he doesn’t see is what goes with it and the fact that he could make 3 times of much on the outside for doing half as much. From a financial standpoint, any Officer who’s spent more than 4 years in the Corps is losing money and is staying because he feels the responsibility to lead Marines.

Is the Officer a better Marine than an enlisted one? No, Officers are just strapped with the authority and responsibility to lead enlisted Marines. It’s a more cerebral existence and even though Marine Officers get more “dirty” with the enlisted Marines than any other service, the enlisted counterpart to an Officer’s responsibility and leadership is the hard labor asked of an enlisted Marine. Does that make him “better”? No, just a different job description with a requirement to dedicate his professional (and often personal) life to the Marines put in his care. Until you understand that, you have no basis to write a book about it.

“I'm really excited about this project since the publishers I have been in communication with have assured me that no other book has ever been published detailing the negative sides of military officers, their privileged military life, and the major differences of every day life between the ranks.”

Did you ask yourself why this is? Why none has been written? I can come up with a few answers. First, it’s just not prevalent enough that rates a scandalous tell-all book. Second, most Marines of any rank maintain a pride and respect for the Corps that supercedes their desire to “sell a million copies.” I, too, aspire to write a book some day and I could come up with enough horror stories in my “irregular” career to paint an ugly picture of just about every segment of the Marine Corps but it would only be bitter ramblings of half-truths and exaggerated, isolated instances. I would rather write about the vast majority of Marines I’ve met and the incredible duty they serve with low pay, little thanks, and fervent dedication they have for each other.

But you go write your book and dish out what you think you feel qualified to judge. Anthony Swofford did and he’s been on all the talk shows. You’ll be in fine company.

You signed off with it but do you even remember what “Semper Fi” means?

Free Advice for Today:
“Don't be surprised to discover that luck favors those who are prepared.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“Casualties many; Percentage of dead not known; Combat efficiency: we are winning.” 
- Colonel David M. Shoup, USMC, Tarawa, 21 November 1943

DING DING DING DING DING!!!! WE HAVE A WINNER!!!

Today, I received an email from my beautiful cousin informing me that she does indeed read my BLOG every Wednesday. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go here. Well, that’s one out of, well, never mind. I’ve recently been accused of whining so I’ll let it go.

On that note, I’ve been agitated for the last couple of days. I’ve received two emails lately that I have to gear myself up for before I answer. One was from a former enlisted Marine who’s writing a book that he says will paint a negative picture of the Marine Officer corps. He brings up some examples and is asking my opinion of it and if my view of being an Officer is skewed by my unorthodox experience in the Marine Corps. I’ve been wrestling with my answer for days and know it will be a drain on me to answer it sufficiently without getting too wrapped around the axel. One train of thought says I shouldn’t have to justify myself or my Corps but the other says that this guy has it all wrong and needs to have it explained to him. But will it change things no matter what I say? Who knows but I have to give it a shot.

The other email is from a retired Major who took exception to my description of the USNS Curtiss; the ship I rode over to Saudi in 1990. On the one hand, he told me to stop whining (an accusation I deplore) but on the other hand, he went on to dispel some urban legends about the ship that I wrote about. He gave a very detailed explanation of the history of the ship so for that I’m grateful (even though it means I’ll have to go back and re-write some of my stories. Damn!!!) and I have to give him respect for not just throwing insults without supporting documentation. He backed his argument up so I’ll take my lumps and make the corrections.

The third source of my agitation is reading some more of “Jarhead.” (spit!) I’m really starting to regret that I made a commitment to read the entire thing (on the moral ground that I can’t really bash it unless I finish it). But it has to be the singularly worst book I’ve ever read. I am so embarrassed that this jackass was a Marine. His writing is crude for the sake of being crude and written with the transparent intent to shock the reader through nearly pornographic, profane, and disjointed topics.

Since my last rant about it, I’ve doubled the number of pages so now I’m up to 30 and got to read about how he chewed out a Captain who was transferring him (yeah, right) and how he had sex with a Japanese girl numerous times and even befriending her boyfriend. He even guesses about his father’s sexual exploits as an airman during Vietnam, telling the reader that he assumed he screwed prostitutes. Then he goes into detail about his own conception in Hawaii but tells the reader that “You can’t watch and neither can I.” Why you would write the TRUE things like this is of questionable interest but to write about pure conjecture concerning the sexual habits of your parents is absurd. God this guy is an idiot but I guess I am too for reading it.

Other randomness: I noticed there were people striking outside some furniture manufacturing store on my way from school yesterday. What makes this memorable is that they’ve been doing this for the two years I’ve been here. What kind of crap must be going on that people picket your store for two years? But to tell the truth, I view them with exactly the same disdain as I do the bums holding up cardboard signs at the traffic light (“God Bless You”). I always thought striking was stupid, even as a kid. I mean it just seems wrong to me and my hero in this matter was President Reagan when he canned the air traffic controllers. This is why I’d make a shitty businessman because I’d walk out and yell “You are all fired and as this moment are trespassing on my property. If you don’t leave, I’ll call the police.” Then I’d like go out of business but you can’t change a tiger's stripes and this is something I couldn’t stand for.

My wife is still out of town and I’ve been spending a lot of time doing all the stuff she does. It gives her no end of pleasure to hear that I keep the house in perfect order when she goes because I’m a bit of a slob when she’s around. I’ve concluded that since she always keeps the house “just so” I have become accustomed to that. Therefore when I know she won’t be picking up after me, I can’t stand but to put all the effort into making the house “just so” in her absence. She told me she should leave alone me more often.

I know what you’re saying (because she tells me the same thing): “Why can’t you put that effort into helping me when I’m there?” We’ve been through this conversation dozens of times and I conclude that because she can’t stand anything out of place, she has to be in constant motion cleaning things up like that robot vacuum cleaner. If I help, she follows up behind and does it “her” way so after awhile, I subconsciously feel like I’m wasting my time because she’s going to move it, redo it, whatever, anyway.

Your reaction might be “Well, then learn to do it her way.”

To which I’d say “Kiss my ass and mind your own business!!!”

Free Advice for Today:
“Earn your success based on service to others, not at the expense of others.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Monday, July 14, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“I have just returned from visiting the Marines at the front, and there is not a finer fighting organization in the world.” 
- General Douglas MacArthur, USA, Outskirts of Seoul, 21 September 1950

I was in the gym working out this morning with my headphones on (like always) and while in between sets (OK, goofing off) I saw a show that was on the multiple TVs in the weight room. Normally they show ESPN so there is sometimes motivating stuff like homerun highlights or something (and sometimes something lame like bowling or pool). Today, it was a show about hunting.

“Great” I thought because to me, there isn’t much that’s more lame than a show about hunting, not because I dislike the sport but because the guys they show always are a little “too much” into the whole hunting thing. When I happened to look up today, I saw a guy all dressed up in hunting garb, pulling back on a bow while another guy stood right next to him. What caught my eye about the whole affair is that he was aiming at a big deer that was all of about 5 feet away. I mean both of them were just standing there looking at each other while this great huntsman took about 5 seconds to aim. I could almost hear the deer saying “Look, are you gonna let go or what?” It was just too weird that the deer just stood there looking at the hunter, like he had a death wish or something. I don’t know, I probably wouldn’t eat the damn thing for fear that the whole thing was a set up. There has to be something wrong with a deer that lost its will to live.

So Rambo lets go and, of course, nails the stupid animal (no, not the guy next to him) which subsequently goes down (again, not the guy next to him, the deer! Stay with me here). Now remember that they were all of 5 feet apart so it would be hard to miss this thing but this didn’t seem to matter to the two hunters. The camera swung to the triumphant stud whose smile was only outdone by his gut. His buddy slapped him on the back and then they seemed to talk for 5 minutes about this supposedly magnificent shot (I couldn’t hear the dialogue, thank God, but I imagined it went something like “Durnt it Bob, I jest reared back and kept a-pullin’ until I got me a solid bead on the varmint and then thought ‘Hell, I sure do like puddin'...’”)

I thought this would be the end of it and went back to working out. But a few minutes later, I looked up and these same two dufusses now had guns and were slapping birds out of the sky like their survival depended on it. I don’t even want to go into that but let’s just say they were a little too hyper-aware and excited about the whole affair. Dude, you have shotguns and are shooting into a flock of birds. Of course one is going to fall.

A few minutes later, they were fishing. Fight ‘em, Big Boy! You gottem!!! Reel it in, he’s mocking you!!

The coup de gras was the final time I looked up and they were snorkeling. It caught my eye because it wasn’t keeping with the whole “Kill all the the mother $%$#s” theme until I noticed they were packin’ harpoons. Of course. For the love of God, can’t these guys get enough? First it’s killing animals with bows and arrows. Then guns. Then fish hooks. Then harpoons. These bastards were on a mission to kill every creature (land, air, and sea) by every means they could come up with. I bet if I kept watching it, they’d have clubs or even poison darts. “Lookee here, Bob, I’m a-usin’ a cyanide-dipped jungle viper-tooth dart with a diamond bit pelt-penetrater and grooved Apollo stabilizer for a smooth barrel exit and clean trajectory.

These are the guys I’d like to see in a real life “Running Man” contest. Let’s see how the fat-assed morons fare when the animals shoot back!!

OK rant complete.

On the home front, my wife and kids left today for a visit to Seattle, leaving me to forage sustenance for myself for a week. Maybe I should have paid attention to the hunting show today after all. Maybe I’ll get my M1 leather bill-folder with the multi-card preloader and go huntin’ for that elusive tacosaurus and burritolope found on the wild tundra of TacoBellia.

Free Advice for Today:
“Never criticize the person who signs your paycheck. If you are unhappy with your job, resign.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

 


Sunday, July 13, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“Pain is good. Extreme pain is extremely good.” 
-Marine Corps Axiom

For the last day and a half, I’ve been doing something very geeky but very necessary nonetheless. It started by making a new portion to my site that was an expansion of my “Books You Must Read” section. What it turned out to be was a project of unforeseen proportion.

The good news is that I discovered I’ve read a hell of a lot of books. The bad news is that I have two more categories of books that dwarf my reading list. The first one is “Books I possess but haven’t read yet” and the second is “Books I want to get and read.” Suffice it to say that I need to live to be about 1000 years old (or 2 years younger than Strom Thurmond before he kicked the bucket) to succeed in completely reading the entire list.

Here is the “work in progress” because even though I successfully catalogued the whole list, I’ve yet to fill in all the blanks. It’s kind of sobering to see everything you’ve read, own, and want to get to and I don’t know who it will interest other than maybe my kids down the line. Oh well, hi kids!

Update on my “Pull my family’s punk card” entry a few days ago: no response from anyone. **Sigh**.

I’ve also been working on my ciphering page (not ready yet) and a few of the Oscar Project entries. Been spreading myself “thin not deep” but that’s the way it goes.

My family leaves for Seattle tomorrow so I’ll be able to do more thing in the next week. Wait, probably less because I’ll have to do everything for myself! The HORROR!! I’ll keep you updated since it should be pretty funny: just me and Buster. Let’s get this part started!!!!

Free Advice for Today:
“Commit yourself to constant self-improvement.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Friday, July 11, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other
people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in
you.”
 
- Dale Carnegie

I should wait but I can’t; it just pisses me off too much.

The book I’m reading, Jarhead (spit!), is an irrefutable load of pig dung. Please, please, please, do not read it and think that this is the average Marine talking about his experiences. I’m only on page 19 but get so pissed at it, it’ll take me forever to get through. I should have known from the title that it would be irreverent but I thought it would have a point. So far, it’s just scandalous trash talk for the sake of making the author sound harder and saltier than he likely was.

I heard that it was bad and read a review that trashed it but I went into it with an open mind. I thought that a story about a Marine going through the first Gulf War was a good read for me but it’s turning out to be awful. This moron trashes everything that is sacred about the Marine Corps for, from what I can tell, just for the shock factor. It sounds to me to be written by a bitter lance corporal with an attitude, the ones we try to weed out because they are not worthy to be called Marine.

So far he’s talked about the details of shitting in a slit trench, buying drinks for prostitutes in Korea, getting sand in his butt crack and piss hole, wanting to rape the women of Kuwait, pillage their gold, and sell their children into prostitution. He claims to have been punished in the “Roman Chair” position for hours (physically impossible and there is no time in bootcamp for that length of punishment, anyway) and has taken verbal shots at the rear “pogues” that support him and even a visiting colonel. Let me remind you, I’m only on page 19.

He’s bitter about the what he claims to be an infringement of free speech when he is told what he can and cannot say. First, it’s for your own safety because you were told not to talk about your position, your training, or your capabilities. Second, you are a Marine. You DON’T have the right to free speech, not because the “System” wants to suppress you but because the safety and success of the mission sometimes requires silence and secrecy. If you were any good at understanding what it is to be a Marine, you would know this. Plus, it’s to keep dumbasses like yourself who slipped through the filter from saying something stupid that the general public might construe as the prevalent Marine mindset. Unfortunately, you’ve chosen to broadcast all your pent up bitches and completely betray the Corps now that you’ve slimed your way out into the civilian world. Do me a favor, tell everyone you were in the Army. On second thought, scratch that, I wouldn’t wish that upon my Army brethren.

This is going to be a long book and I complained a bit about the Keeping Faith story I just read but compared to Jarhead (spit!), that one was a masterpiece. Hopefully it gets better but if the first chapter is any indication of the rest of the content, I’m in for a lot of pissed off reading.

You might suggest I just don’t read it but I have to. I bought it, I started it, and I consider it cowardly to turn away from a book I don’t agree with. But know that it’s difficult to see my sacred Corps being dragged through the mud by some disillusioned hack and what is most painful is that many people will read this and believe it’s the state of affairs in the Marine Corps these days. I assure you, it is not and it wasn’t back then.

Free Advice for Today:
“Stop and read historical roadside markers.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Thursday, July 10, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“Goddam it, you'll never get the Purple Heart hiding in a foxhole! Follow me!” 
- Captain Henry P. "Jim" Crowe, USMC, Guadalcanal, 13 January 1943

I decided to do something very dangerous today. I will now complain about some of my family it the futile attempt to shame them into reading my BLOG. I’m curious to see if any of them read this (which I don’t think they do).

This is a no-win situation for me. If they read it and respond, I was wrong. If I get silence as a response, well, that sucks. But because I’m that kind of crazy bastard, here we go.

Wife: Carrie is square in the “maybe” category. I catch her reading the BLOG every once in awhile, resulting in a “putz” comment. Maybe it’s because I write more than I talk and it’s the only way she gets to see under the hood sometimes.

Son and daughter: I hope not, maybe when they get older.

Mom: well, it would be pretty hard for her to read this since she doesn’t own a computer and the fact that she just got out of surgery. No excuse! I find her guilty!!!

Dad: Same boat, no computer. I don’t think he would anyway since he never calls, ever, even though he does have a phone. He’ll say he meant to read them but just never did. The last milestone he attended was my high school graduation.

Brother: Chris has a computer. In fact, for many years he had my old computer which ran better than my new computer because he has cable modem and I have a hair-thin dial-up connection that chokes on a ping (pause while I cuss profusely). Chris is busy but does have time to surf (I know because he does fantasy baseball). I love my brother so I won’t publicly diss him here. OK, I will: Chris-Cross Applesauce. Want some blinces? I should hear from him if he’s reading.

Grandma: do I really have to go into this? Maybe the common area in the “assisted living” section might have a computer but I think Solitaire would be the height of challenge there. No excuse! Get crackin’, Granny!!

Sister Roxie: I can’t even get her to send me more email than “I gotta go.” Such is the life of a college student but I’ve been trying to get her to send me a box of pictures she’s promised for over a year. Even if she reads this, she will mean to send an email but will forget.

Sister Jennifer: in the Navy, just married. I’ve never heard if she reads the BLOG but I doubt it. I hope to be proved wrong.

Cousin Jennifer: she’s my beautiful cousin living in NYC trying to make it as a Broadway star. She was hands-down the cutest little girl ever to wear pigtails when we were growing up in the Midwest. I hear she’s in a movie as an extra. I think it was “Analyze That.” She actually commented on a recent BLOG so there’s hope.

Cousin Sharon: School teacher in Kansas with a couple of kids. She might read this but I don’t know. I hear from her every once in awhile and she sends me some good forwards (even the gullible ones about getting money from Microsoft).

Cousin Kary: sports writer. I think he’d enjoy the content but I never hear from him.

Mother and Father-in-law: Maybe not a good idea since they might be frightened of who their eldest daughter married.

Brother-in-law Jeff: Possible. I really respect Jeff and he’s one of those people that always calls, sends email, or sends a letter for every important occasion including marathons, promotions, birthdays, etc. No one else in my family is as thoughtful as Jeff who knows that recognition of “little” things means a lot. (although his parents are the same way and do the thoughtful things more than my blood relatives).

Sister-in-law Michelle: she teaches at missionary school and has been a missionary herself. She might read this (although she’s never indicated). Michelle is a top notch person and is real close with my wife. I will be making a trip to Montana late this year to visit her on my way across America.

Brother-in-law Scott: Another maybe. I really like Scott and we have a similar sense of humor. I think he’d like it if he read it. He visited recently and seems to be taking to fatherhood again for the second time. He produces ridiculously cute kids.

Sister-in-law Becky: Becky is the youngest of the 5 kids and is getting married this month. I don’t think she’d read the BLOG and might get offended at some of the harsher content. We’ve had a tumultuous relationship over the years but only because I love her like a sister and tend to be over-critical. I’m very happy for her and her former-Marine fiancé.

Aunt Shirley: I get email from her and I know she thinks the world of me so I don’t know how she’d take the brutal honesty within my BLOG. Her and Uncle Kenny are wonderful people I look forward to visiting to Atlanta during Thanksgiving.

Aunt Barbara: Sharon, Jennifer, and Kary’s mom. She’s a wildcard but again, I don’t know how people who changed my diaper would handle the inter workings of my adult mind. Her and Uncle Kent are the salt of the earth and were like second parents to me. Their relationship is a guideline for my own.

Aunt Maria: I get email from her but have always been so far away. Her husband was in the Army and they lived in Germany while we were growing up so never got all that close. But she lives in the DC area so we look forward to strengthening ties when I’m stationed on the East Coast. I think it would be easier to take that she reads it because she didn’t know me as a child.

So here’s the irony of it. For those of you that read my BLOG on a regular or semi-regular basis, none of you are my family. Although I don’t know what numbers we’re talking about because not everyone writes me that reads it, I think I put a pretty good foot forward with my website and get a lot of respect from visitors. Similarly, I like to think that I’m well thought of in my family and they think I’ve succeeded in life so far. Therefore, I have two separate sources of respect coming my way totally independent of each other. I guess I should be happy about that but if it was me and I had a family member who I respect and who I know writes his or her daily thoughts down, I’d be curious enough to check it out.

If you are family, don’t go blabbing to the others to get them to respond (“Hey, Jason posted something you should see!!”). I want to see how many, if any, reactions I get. You can blab after a week if you feel the need.

Free Advice for Today:
“Make your wedding anniversary an all-day celebration.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

 


Wednesday, July 9, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“I have only two men out of my company and 20 out of some other company. We need support, but it is almost suicide to try to get it here as we are swept by machine gun fire and a constant barrage is on us. I have no one on my left and only a few on my right. I will hold.” 
- First Lieutenant Clifton B. Cates, USMC, 96th Co., Soissons, 19 July 1918

Aha, we’re closing in on you, you hacking hack!!!

For the benefit of the rest of the readers, some jackass tried to hack into my site last week but he was unaware that I track searches on my page (the point of attack for this bozo). I wrote both my webspace provider and his after doing a search on www.samspade.org and finding his IP address (or at least the ISP he uses). I knew that by comparing their logs with the time he was assigned that IP, they could track down the culprit but to tell you the truth, I didn’t think they would do anything. But today I got the following email:

** THE RETURN ADDRESSES ON THIS LETTER HAVE BEEN SET TO PREVENT MAIL **
** LOOPS IN THE EVENT YOU ARE RUNNING SOFTWARE WHICH AUTO-REPLIES TO **
** INBOUND MAIL. MCI WILL NOT SEE ANY REPLY SENT TO THIS LETTER. **
** PLEASE SEND ANY REPLIES TO: ABUSE@UU.NET KEEPING THE SUBJECT LINE **
** INTACT.

Please do not take the (B-TSIxxxxxx) information out of the subject header when replying to this problem. We use this number to track specific customer issues. Thank you.

Dear Jason Grose <jason@grose.us>:

MCI Security Support Group has received the information you sent concerning an alleged security violation of your system. MCI does not condone the use of the Internet for malicious or criminal intent.

We were unable to locate time zone information in the complaint. Could you send in the time zone of the system generating these log messages? Also, make sure that you include these logs in plain ASCII text embedded within your mail message, as our ticketing system is unable to process attached files.

This message is only for the use of the intended recipient. If you have received this communication in error, please destroy all copies of this message and its attachments and notify us immediately.

Thank You,

MCI Internet Abuse Investigations Team 1-800-900-0241
22001 Loudoun County Parkway Ashburn, VA 20147 703-886-8902
security@uu.net - Security Incidents http://www.uu.net
abuse-mail@uu.net - Massmail abuse-news@uu.net - Usenet Abuse

All-right MCI!! Get on with your bad self! I sent them the info they wanted so if you are reading this, Mr. Hack-Happy, expect a little correspondence from your ISP.

OK, I know he’ll probably get off with a stern email equating to a noogie but it’s the principle.

I’m also sending out props to POWWEB; they locked down their space tight enough to keep the boogeymen out.

Two other quick comments: I have a sunburn on my scalp. Have you any idea how much that burns, especially when you forget and go to scratch your head?

Next, have you ever been talking to someone and suddenly you get a hamstring cramp? It happened to me yesterday in my lab as I was sitting down, talking with one of the secretaries that use our microwave. I was casually explaining something when the cramp hit and I nonchalantly thrust my leg forward, trying to look as normal as possible while my face went red and I forgot what I was saying in mid-sentence. I stood up in an attempt to alleviate the blinding pain and tried to end the conversation the best I could. I must have looked like an imbecile.

Free Advice for Today:
“Don't sit while ladies are standing.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Tuesday, July 8, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“Always practice harder than you need to and you will look sharp when the time comes and girls will want to ____ you.” 
- Senior Drill Instructor Staff Sergeant Marshal in the book 'Keepin Faith'

Raging Waters. That’s where I went today and let me say that my continuous diatribe about America being one big fat slob was once again driven home like a couple of Suzi-Q’s down a fat kid’s gullet. I’ll admit that I’m not as thin as I was or want to be (I’m working on it!!) but compared to what I saw today, I need triple rations to get caught up with the status quo. Even the teenagers are, on average, bulging out in all the wrong places which shows that fast food and junk food have taken their toll on the American public.

I went to the water park for my kids’ sake because I stopped having fun at these places long ago. I really wanted them to have fun and I know they have more fun when I get involved so I agreed to make a go of it, despite the cold water, punk kids everywhere, and frying sun. I did the best I could but I guess I’m just not one of those fathers who still acts like a kid in water parks. I’m working on it and have advanced (I wouldn’t have even gone a year ago) and hopefully I can get there before the kids don’t want me there anymore.

The first slide I went down, after a 30 minute wait in line, lasted about 7 terrifying seconds. The “lifeguard” pushed me over the edge in an inner tube as gravity took over and propelled me down a watery half-tube. About two seconds into the ride, I decided this was not a lot of fun when a wave of water dumped on my head, almost knocking off my sunglasses, and blinded me for the rest of the nearly vertical drop. Oh boy, that was fun.

Next was the wave pool, or as I liked to call it, the place where idiot kids splash around without any regard to the man trying to ease into the cold water like a moron. Once I made the commitment (and relocating my testicles somewhere near my sternum) I rode the waves with my kids who found this the height of excitement. I, on the other hand, considered it a continuous challenge to stay away from all the mindless humanity bobbing around in the pool uncomfortably near me.

The last set of rides I went on was “The Serpentine” which gave you a choice of 3 tubes to ride down. The first one, I banged my feet on the way down and hit the water where I promptly got flipped over and received a bonus enema, free of charge. The second, much like the first. The third, I managed to stay upright and hydroplaned clear across the little pool, much to the terror of the female lifeguard at the bottom.

Having all the fun I can stand, I returned to our staging area and cracked my book open. Carrie took the kids around (they have more energy at these places than a hummingbird on caffeinated PCP) to frolic in the other water park offerings. While I almost finished my book, I traded the accomplishment for a sunburn which severely pisses me off since I used like sunblock SPF-1000 for Southern Texan albinos. My wife informs me that putting it on at 1100 and staying in the sun until 1800 probably had something to do with it. I argued with her but the fact remained that I was as red as the inside of a fat kid's thighs (same one as the fan of Hostess products mentioned above).

When we got home, I was so disgusted with what I saw I had to get a run in. I had slept in and skipped my morning run but I had to get out and justify the McDonalds I had for lunch. I know, I bitch about fat people and fast food only to eat at McD’s. I am weak, I have kids, and I piss myself off but at least I get out there and try to make up for it. That’s more than I can say about the walrus that bit it somehow on a ride today. I don’t know what exactly happened but it took practically the entire cast and crew of Raging Waters to help her to a wheelchair where they carted her fat ass off to a first aid station. That may sound harsh but she’d have to try pretty damn hard to get hurt at one of these water parks where they go overboard on safety so as to avoid massive lawsuits. Somehow Queen Bag-O-Mashed-Taters managed to circumvent these safety features then expected everyone to come to her aid (which they did, fearing litigation, I’m sure).

Ok, was that a little mean? Yes. But I’m tired, sunburned, and got next to nothing intellectual done today so I’m leaving it in. If you’re fat and offended, well, you can remain offended but for the sake of our fine country’s reputation, get some exercise and stop allowing yourself to fit into those plus sizes. I don’t expect everyone to look like a model but not a model-T either. (Damn, did it again.)

Bonus joke for the day: How do you starve an Army soldier? Hide his meal card under his iron.

Free Advice for Today:
“Apologize immediately when you lose your temper, especially to children.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Monday, July 7, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“A ship without Marines is like a garment without buttons.” 
- Admiral David D. Porter, USN, 1863

OK, I felt like a real Marine today, finally. I woke up at about 0630 to run to the gym and got a good workout done. How superior one (that’s “me”) feels when they get up before everyone else to exercise. I can feel my superiority complex coming back as we speak but it was quickly crushed when I re-read the rest of this entry.

When I got into school today, I had about 17 tons of email built up from the last two weeks and it took me half the day just to get through it. But I triumphed and slayed the Outlook dragon. What a warrior I’ve become: hours of sitting on my ass reading, dumping, and answering email. I weep at what I’ve been reduced to.

The only class I had was the capstone class for my graduate degree which is basically two hours, twice a week. The first hour will be lecturing or presentations that we round-robin followed by class discussion. In other words, NAP TIME!!! I guess I should make an effort in there seeing how it’s my last class. Time will tell.

Time: "You'll be skipping that one a lot!"

BTW, my topic is “storage technologies” so if anyone has any interesting leads, send them my way.

One of you jerks have been trying to hack into my site via my search engine. Because I’m not an expert on the method, I emailed a couple of people that are and they think you are an idiot for trying to get run command lines in a script-enabled search box. I also took the liberty of emailing your ISP (yes, I got your IP address) and showed them. Let me know what they say.

Other than that, nothing much pissed me off today except the people behind me in my class who insisted on talking while the class was going on. Can’t they see I’m busy NOT listening to the lecture? I have other things to concentrate on (“Hey, look, the new Terminator chick's on the MSN site!”).

Speaking of pop culture, if you heard a loud explosion yesterday, it was the sound of my bubble being burst. I was looking at my wife’s People Magazine (I have no problem admitting it was mine if it was, but it was hers, OK?) and it had a candid picture of Arnold Schwarzenegger in a bathing suit, walking on a beach. To my surprise, he was old-man fat with a sagging torso and a gut. I guess since he’s 55, that’s normal but it’s Arnold!!! He old! He’s fat! What chance does a mere mortal like myself have when Arnold Friggin’ Schwarzenegger looks like a tub of lard? My reality just rippled. I’m going to go drown my sorrows in a box of Little Debbie marshmallow oatmeal cookies.

But here's little cyborg eye candy for you. My wife teases me but let any man tell me this ain't eye-catching! Now who would rather see in a bathing suit walking on a beach?

Free Advice for Today:
“Don't judge people by their relatives.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Sunday, July 6, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“The man who will go where his colors go, without asking, who will fight a phantom foe in jungle and mountain range, without counting, and who will suffer and die in the midst of incredible hardship, without complaint. He has been called United States Marine.” 
- T. E. Fehrenbach, historian writing about the Marines in the Korean War.

I’m bracing myself for getting back to school starting tomorrow. Granted, I only have one sit-down class for two hours, twice a week but still. I have a thesis to finish and two webpages to create on top of my own pet projects. I’m savoring the calm before the storm and these last two weeks have been blissful.

Yesterday I ate a burrito the size of my head. My wife brought them home for lunch and I couldn’t believe the size of it. It was the nastiest thing I’ve done in a long time and when all was said and done, I was walking around with a distended gut, wondering what in the world possessed me to consume such a large quantity of tortilla, beans, steak, rice, and a few dozen other fattening ingredients. I simply lost all control and paid for it the rest of the lethargic day. Even by dinner time all I could do is a can of vegetable beef soup but at least I got out and did a run to pick away at the disgusting display of gluttony.

Last night I watched Tears of the Sun with Bruce Willis. It was a good (but gruesome) story which I enjoyed. I have determined that old Bruce has the hardest looking mug in Hollywood. Yeah, the acting was a bit on the parmesan side but hey, it’s Bruce Willis.

Today, I learned a bit about Perl programming and actually succeeded in creating a C++ program that did frequency analysis on any text you give it. The program counts each letter, tells you how many times it appeared, but also gives a total and the percentage of each letter. The way I set it up, you put your ciphertext in a text file named freqIN.txt and it will spit out the output in freqOUT.txt (a funny play on words, don’t you think?) What I need to do is figure out how to let the user pick the file name so they can say something like "freqcount.exe myfile". The programming took about an hour (a record for me, the Turtle-On-Valium programmer.)

Today I was also forced to watch Kangaroo Jack at my daughter’s request. It was only semi-painful but the joy she got out of my reactions was worth the time. I think the thin guy was the fat kid in Lean On Me. Then there was the obligatory gorgeous blond character. And she was cute to the nth power, wow. (Is it wrong to have your eyes bug out while watching a kid’s movie?)

OK, random funny: the other day I was at the exchange just looking around and as I went by the toys aisle, there was this full grown man leaning over inspecting the Hotwheels display. I mean he was really into it and it was monumentally sad to see this shell of a man going apeshit over Hotwheels. He was the stereotypical geek, greasy matted down hair, thick glasses, clothes right out if Revenge of the Nerds.

Now for the “I promise I’ll get to it” section. And as a bonus, I have three.

First, I am going to organize and chronicle my latest excursion into the world of cryptography, complete with blow-by-blow explanations of my flailings. I plan to put up my source code just in case some of you are more geeky than me and Mr. Hotwheels and want to help me solve some problems and/or clean up my nasty code (I have to clean it up a little first, though, with comments).

Second, I need do some reviews on the movies I’ve seen. They came fast and furious (not one I saw nor will ever see) over the last two weeks so I have to get caught up. I know, I still need to get to the Oscar project so I rented the 3 ½ movie Ben Hur (won the big “O” in 1957). Unfortunately, Kangaroo Jack trumped it today.

Lastly, I still owe the 50 miler stories. No excuse for that one.

There’s more but those came to mind.

Free Advice for Today:
“Don't beleive all you hear, spend all you have, or sleep all you want.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Friday, July 4, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“I’d like to have two armies:

One for display with lovely guns, tanks, little soldiers, staffs, distinguished and doddering generals and dear little regimental officers who would be deeply concerned over their general’s bowel movements or their colonel’s piles, an Army that would be shown for a modest fee on every fairground in the country.

The other would be the real one, composed entirely of young enthusiasts in camouflaged uniforms, who would not be put on display but from whom impossible efforts would be demanded and to whom all sorts of tricks would be taught. That’s the Army in which I should like to fight.

- Jean Larteguy

(Happy birthday, America and my sister-in-law, Becky!!)

Again, I got behind on the old blogasaurs so I have to skim over the last couple of days.

Yesterday I went to the Santa Cruz boardwalk with my family and the Sbragias. We all had a great time and other than spending the gross national product of a third world country on corn dogs, cotton candy, and French fries (freedom fries?) everything was relatively painless. But I kind of wonder when the rides went from kid-excitement to old fogey vomit-inducers. But I did find out the following:

1. I scream like a little girl on the roller coaster.
2. Carnies are still carnies and frighten me deeply
3. The general public comes in three varieties: young and real skinny, young and real fat, and grown-up and really, really fat.

I also finished the two books I was reading. About Face by Col David Hackworth (USA, ret.) was a great book and took me three months. It’s a great story about a very decorated soldier who fought in Korea nad Vietnam only to blow the whistle on the whole Vietnam fiasco and get drummed out of the Army barely making it out alive. I really enjoyed it and learned a lot from the book but considered it tragic how disillusioned and bitter he got after dedicating his life to the Army. Well worth the read.

The other book was The Code Book about the history of ciphers, codes, and codebreaking. This is probably the best book of its kind I’ve ever read and will go on the “must read” list. What makes it so good is the way the author takes a complicated subject and explains it in interesting and understanding detail. At the end of the book, he offers ten enciphered messages for you to solve, each getting harder and harder.

I awoke this morning eager to get started and after about an hour, I cracked the first one (simple substitution). But then the second one was a Caesar’s Shift and it took me about 8 hours to finally cracked it. The reason it took me so long was because I tried some elementary tactics that were getting me nowhere so I decided to build a program that generated all 26 versions of the basic shift cipher and that would translate the code using each one. Then I would look to see which one made any sense.

The programming took me the better part of the day (because I suck and I have to throw time at these things to make up for the lack of any inherent talent) and finally got close enough to give it a shot. When I did, the only one that made any kind of sense was (WARNING: here comes the spoiler so if you ever want to give this a try, don’t follow this link to the rest of this paragraph)…

After I was done, I experienced the rare occasion of being proud of my accomplishments. I usually don’t feel all that great about the things I achieve and tend to focus on the negative but this time, I really felt good about the hard work and results.

After pulling myself away from this, I called my mom who’s recovering from the third surgery in about a month. She had a leak in her skull by her right ear which let spinal fluid drain into her nasal cavity, causing headaches. It took them three tries to plug it up and she lost all of her hearing in her right ear but she’s recovering.

The Sbragias showed up for an afternoon BBQ and Chad had to sit through the long explanation of my cipher-breaking endeavor in excruciating detail. He acted interested but he’s a good actor. God bless him he let me hold court.

After eating (too much) and watching some TV, we packed up and went to the highest sand hill overlooking the Monterey Bay to watch the fireworks display. It was cold, we were really far away, fog covered most of the display, and my right shoulder was hurting so bad I winced every time I moved (sympathy pains for Mom?) but other than all that, it was great.

Actually, I did ponder the great life I lead and the fortunate situation this great country bestows on me. We live in the greatest country this world has ever seen and my kids are growing up knowing happiness and safety. I take great pride in knowing I’m passing on that legacy to them. America may have her problems but she’s the best thing going from every perspective: time or geography. I am honored to protect her as she has protected me my whole life.

On a side 4th of July note, when I was a kid, my father used to give my brother and me $50 each to go to the Indian reservation and buy as many fireworks $50 could buy. We’d get all kinds of cool stuff and spend a week firing them off (along with one of two fingers). Since we were with our divorced father during the summer in Seattle with no rules, that time was so special for me that I can’t let a 4th of July go by without thinking of him. He may have had his faults and made some bad choices over the years, but the one thing he gave us were those good times in the summer when his life revolved around my brother and me.

Thanks Dad and happy birthday, America.

Free Advice for Today:
“Never admit at work that you're tired, angry, or bored”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Tuesday, July 1, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“That two Battalions of Marines be raised consisting of one Colonel, two Lieutenant Colonels, two Majors & Officers as usual in other regiments, that they consist of an equal number of privates with other battalions; that particular care be taken that no person be appointed to office or enlisted into said Battalions, but such as are good seamen, or so acquainted with maritime affairs as to be able to serve to advantage by sea.”
- Resolution of the Continental Congress, 10 November 1775

Back from camping and even though there’s much to tell, I’m running a little short on time so this entry will be quick.

The campground we stayed at was called Big Basin and beat Yosemite hands down. Last year when I went to Yosemite, the park rangers were coming by every 15 minutes to tell us what we were doing wrong. No camp fires in the morning and it was like we were being stalked as they bid-dogged everything we did. Plus, it was like camping in the Costco parking lot; right next to each other. In Big Basin, we had big lots with forest all around and the park rangers kept their distance. They were cool except for the evil witch that we had to deal with whop literally snatched a piece of paper back from one of the kids when we were checking in. I almost had to kill her but I allowed her to continue converting oxygen.

Upon my return, I found out that my latest cipher code kept my buddy cracker at bay for 6 hours, up from 10 minutes for my first attempt. I’ll be working on my next one (evil laugh).

Tonight, I spent the evening watching the Mariners play the A’s. The game went into extra innings and we got a run but they had lastups. Then the Mariner’s lost their ability to play baseball and allowed the A’s to get a single and then a double. The game ended with a sacrifice fly to right filed and I left the room disgusted. I suspect that the Mon-Stars stole their playing ability like in Space Jam.

I gotta go watch a DVD I rented (my new TV is taking it’s toll on my time). Tonight, it’ll be The Rookie so it looks like a baseball extravaganza for the Grose clan tonight.

Free Advice for Today:
“When shaking a woman's hand, squeeze it no harder than she squeezes yours.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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