Jason's BLOG pages



Jason Grose's BLOG

August 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.

Sunday, August 31, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“Happiness comes through doors you didn't even know you left open.” 
- Unknown

The Winchester Mystery House and the fat tour guide.

Imagine this: a batty old loon in the form of the widow of the Winchester Repeating Rifle company is left with $20 million back in the 20s. She lost her child and husband to disease so in response, she moves to San Jose California where she gets one of her brilliant ideas: I’ll build a house as nutty as I am.

Some oracle (for a hefty price, I imagine) told her that the ghosts of all the people killed from her husband’s business not only killed him and their child, but were after her. The only defense against such supernatural onslaught was, you guessed it, to employ carpenters to build onto her house continuously, 24 hours a day. This lasted 39 years until the old biddy kicked.

What’s worse is that she designed every room to her lunatic specs so there were things like stairwells to nowhere, chimneys that didn’t let out, windows opening to brick walls, and a hodgepodge of other goofy designs. She was obsessed with the number 13 so many details had to do with that, such as the number of sane brain cells left in her grape by the time she bit it.

In order to support such foolish waste of money, we paid about $50 to walk through this kooky old house. The kids were excited about it and it was on my “to do” list so I was in good spirits, even when we had to wait in the gift shop for our tour (I hate being the tourist and avoid the gaudy crap they try to get you to buy at every opportunity). Only my daughter fell for the souvenir trap and had to have plastic half-globe with water and glitter inside. Yes, she HAD to have it and bought it with her own money. The shopping DNA is primortal in little girls.

When our guide arrived, he was everything I despise in a person: a fat, effeminate, greasy-haired, know-it-all geek with a sing-songy delivery of a canned script. His whole annoying pontification would derail when he’d forget his next line, embarrassing the 15 or so of us unlucky to draw him as our guide. For over an hour we had to listen to his painful description of the house in that way where you’re thinking “Dude, you’re taking this WAY too seriously.” The thought crept into my head that this kid likely knows how to start a nuclear war with a computer but as a tour guide, he wouldn’t even make it into Lambda Lambda Lambda.

Maybe it’s a flaw in my personality (I have many) but it just pissed me off that this old lady would waste so much money on satisfying her wacky desires. The old bat was hell to work for, never had guests, and basically squandered a fortune. The only condolence I had was that she employed a lot of carpenters and servants for years, not to mention leaving a historical landmark for people to pay $50 to witness her insanity.

Oh, and let’s not forget, years later she indirectly employed Fatboy, keeping him stocked with pizza pockets and D&D paraphernalia throughout his awkward years (3-50).

Hey, why is my computer sparking like that…..?


Free Advice for Today:
Take charge of your attitude. Don't let someone else choose it for you.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 1997

Friday, August 29, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.” 
- Unknown

Today we went to TMO (Travel Management Office) to set up our move. In the military, they move you for free so before you move, you go to this office and deal with the worst of all government red tape. I had little hope of initial success.

The first guy we saw did not do anything to dissuade my negative outlook. He just had a dead look to him and when he asked what we wanted, I told him we were PCSing and needed to set up a move. He seemed to eyeball me up and down and asked where we were going. Virginia was my answer. He took another long pause and said he needed to see my orders. I was prepared and gave them to him and he looked them over as though he was looking for that detail that would disqualify us no matter the minutia that would do it. At this point, I would've like to see him choke on my fist.

Luckily, he gave us some paperwork to fill out (I expected that) and when we were done with it, the lady that was at the other desk came up to help us. I was relieved because I was in no mood to butt heads with Mr. Happy.

To my surprise, everything went smooth, even the requests we made. It really pisses me off that TMO is one of those organizations where you have to request things you have no idea you rate. Who knew you could request a certain carrier? Not me until a retired Navy Officer’s wife, who happened to be our realtor, not only told us we could but also who to request (Paul Arpin Vanlines, who moves the NFL). We also requested our stuff be containerized in crates rather than thrown in the back of the movers’ truck. Again, you have to request this stuff and if you don’t know about them, well they won’t tell you. How do they sleep at night?

The only other thing I have to rant about is dog shit. Pardon the explicatives but that’s the only name I can give it. We went to a new video store and upon getting out of the car, my wife noticed there was dog shit on the ground by our car. She sidestepped it but wasn’t so lucky coming back when she dove foot-first into it.

This wasn’t regular dog shit, it was like nuclear shit. Even though she managed to scrape all visual remnants off her shoe, the car still reeked to the point I had to keep the window down and freeze while we went to the next store. I love my wife but God forgive me, the thought entered my head that I was glad it was her and not me. Because we all know stepping in dog shit really sucks. You like never really trust that shoe again.

When we got home, we discovered Buster had left a little present in the living room in the form of his own dog shit with a bonus of piss behind the couch. Great, because we just had not had enough dog shit for one night. I told Carrie to get the mop, I’d get the scooper. I walked through the darkness in the backyard, almost busting an ankle in the gopher holes that have ruined both front and back yards. I came back, scooped the crap, and took it back outside but when I returned, I thought it wise to check my own shoes, just in case. Well, the case happened. I had a massive smashment of dog shit all the way up into the waffle-grip pattern of my nice shoes. I was livid.

As therapy, I’m writing this BLOG. Carrie agreed to clean the shoes because she knew at that moment that I would have thrown the $50 pair of shoes away before I cleaned them. The dog needs to stay clear of me tonight and after my reaction to seeing my shoe, I don’t think he has any problem with giving me my personal space for the night.

Please God, I beseech You. Let this be the end of my involvement with dog shit tonight. Only two more hours left in the day, whadaya say?

Free Advice for Today:
When you hear a kind word spoken about a friend, tell him so.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 1997

Thursday, August 28, 2003
Quote of the Day:
“Some mistakes are too much fun to only make once.” 
- Unknown

I went to the doctor to see if the brown mole-thing on my arm was some kind of cancer.

I’ve had it checked before and it came back negative but it gave me the willies when I read a list of tale-tell signs of things to have looked at and my arm-mole fit all of them. Yikes!

I’ll bypass my normal rant about sitting in the waiting room for a long time and following 3 people like I was a baby duck as they shuffled me from room to room. I’ll get right to the part where they gouged my arm like I was the daily special.

You would have thought I was going in for brain surgery. The procedure is basically where they numb up the area and then poke into the mole with a tiny cylindrical cookie-cutter tool. They take the little part of me and send it to the lab. That’s it.

But the corpsman who was prepping everything took out a half dozen instruments and handled everything like it was toxic waste. I’m not complaining, they were being thorough and careful. I just found it amusing that I’ve scraped my arm and caused more damage than the amount of skin the doc took and it was like I was getting my entire arm lopped off.

The weirdest part was the beginning when he shot the area full of something to numb it up. I didn’t watch but when he was done, I turned to look and there was a big lump on my forearm like I was hiding a marble underneath. It kinda grossed me out.

After that, he slathered the area with iodine, cleaned it up, and then proceeded to take his milli-pound of flesh. The procedure was over in a matter of minutes and the corpsman put a huge bandage where a band-aid would have sufficed. I walked out of there looking like I had been shot in the arm.

Then it hit me. I should have been fine but something was wrong and I felt dizzy and tired. I decided to go home and by the time I got there, I was ready to faint. I couldn’t figure out what it was: the shot was just a simple anesthetic and the procedure was minor but after getting some lunch in my upset stomach, I crashed in bed for about 5 hours. What was that all about?

Free Advice for Today:
Smile when picking up the phone. The caller will hear it in your voice”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 1997

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“If ignorance is bliss, why aren't more people happy?” 
- Unknown

Today I took a friend to the airport so he could fly back to see his family for the long weekend. I was glad to do it and had to thwart his attempt to pay me for gas. First, he had given me a ride to the airport a few months ago and second, I got to go to Fry’s.

I always thought that was a really bad name for a huge computer and electronics store. It’s like calling a chicken joint “Salmonellas.”

Anyway, when I walked into there (for only my second time ever), I felt like I was in geek heaven, plus it was only an hour after opening so I practically had the place to myself. I took my time and looked at everything in the store from mp3 players to CDs. I saw computer books, magazines, hardware, software, and everything in between. For hours I gazed at things I would never have time to work with but I thoroughly enjoyed my uber-dork morning. I wanted to hug the manager when I left.

Here is what came out of it: look into the Microsoft certifications and subscribe to PC World and PC Magazine when I move (because I can’t tell which is better so I’ll take both. That way I can have stacks of both in the corner of my office still in the plastic covering).

When I got home, I was starving. The whole trip home was an exercise in controlling my hunger and many times I flip-flopped about gorging myself with something particularly nasty. I passed the In and Out Burgers so that was a coup. When I got home, I was going to have a Smart One (expensive but pretty good and nutritious) until I saw the left-over spaghetti. Then it was all over. It was a happy medium and I knew I could use the carbs for the workout later.

I spent a lot of time researching Microsoft certifications today. I’m starting from a stand still so I wanted to find something that gave me the basics. Microsoft was no help. I felt like I needed a certification to understand their certification site. But I did read over it and kind of understood what the deal was. Sorta.

Then I got sidetracked because I found an article that said that I could use my GI Bill for the tests. This sent me on a tangent to see if I had anything left after using the GI Bill for my undergraduate degree so off to the website I went. After much searching, I sent an email but then decided to call their help line.

Yes, automated hell once again. And governmental at that! I decided to persevere and made it through the menus until I found out that I have 1 month and 18 days worth of entitlement left. How I can use this for the certification, I don’t know and the representatives I was supposed to stay on the line for apparently went home so I have to wait through the mega-queue again tomorrow. Doh!! Almost finished something I started!!!!

My confusion was because the VA bases your entitlements on the amount of time a class lasts, such as a quarter. You get 36 months of entitlement and they tick off the days as you use them during your enrollment. But the MS certs are just a test so there is no official “taking a class” unless you do it on your own which the GI Bill might or might not pay depending on the courses official relationship with the government.

The only form that I found seems to indicate you just tell them you took the test and how much it costs. If that’s the way they do it (by reimbursing you for the test regardless of the amount of days of entitlement you have left), then you could just walk in without any training, slap down your cash, and the proctor would give you the test which you would consequently and spectacularly bomb. Hell, you could do this regularly just for the fun.

So I don’t know, there must be rules so I’ll see but if things work out, I might get the government to pay for my tests (yes, even after the bachelor’s and master’s degrees). My ultimate goal is to get as many of the certs as I can just to say I did it. Oh, yeah, I hear it might look good on a resume too.

I went to work out, even though I didn’t want to. Afternoon workouts at the college gym I go to are miserable. There are too many young kids (OK, it IS their gym) but I just don’t like to workout in a crowd, especially younger, better looking people than myself. I like to go in the morning when the fat housewives are there and I look and feel like a god. Just kidding, I like it because it’s cool (temperature) and not a lot of the fat housewives are using the same machines as I need.

I had to hurry home and wolf down dinner because my son had an open house at his school. We got there and by the time I left, two arduous hours later, I really felt bad for putting my son through the public school system here in California. Not to be harsh or anything but when you are a kid, you think the teachers have it all together, know what they’re doing, and are rightfully in charge. At least that’s what I thought. But when you are a grown up, you see the teachers more like people and can pick out the normal little pitfalls each of us posses. I look at some of these people and think “This guy’s way out there and he’s forming my kids opinions on life in general!” At that point, I cried. Loudly.

OK, maybe I didn’t cry but I did find myself profoundly bored and thought this is what my kid is subjected to every day. They had us trot to each class, following the student’s schedule with an abbreviated 7 minute class, 3 minute rotation plan. The teachers basically ran through a schedule and a general brief about their class and it hit me that my kids get a one-way firehouse of instruction and lecture all day, 5 days a week . The classes are so big, there is no possibility for one-on-one interchange so the kids just get the receiving end…all day. It broke my heart and I vowed to reverse that more often when I deal with them; let them express themselves like they are unable to when in school.

It made me think that has the educational system evolved the best way? Is this really the optimal way to teach kids? It seems to me that they would get tired of this one-way communication pipe and turn them off from education all together. The teachers are not lighting fires, they are just dumping information for the kids to absorb.

Do I have a magic potion to fix this? Not even for my own kids. I might consider it some kind of right of passage they must endure as I did but that would be too cruel. I think that it must take parental involvement (yes, it’s tough but look what’s on the line!) and acceptance that the teachers are just the info source they have evolved into. It’ll be up to Carrie and I to make it interesting and hopefully spark the desire to learn for learning sake. To me, it’s one of the best gifts I could give my children.

Free Advice for Today:
Respect your children's privacy. Knock before entering their room.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 1997

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“Birthdays are good for you; the more you have, the longer you live.” 
- Unknown

** I posted the following entires all at once today:

My run today can’t claim that name.

What was supposed to be nine miles turned into about 6 good miles and a lot of walking up hills. I attribute a couple things to this, one being the unusual mugginess (which I know I’ll have to get used to in Virginia). The other thing was the double work out yesterday but since I was sweating up a storm the whole time, I was not all that disappointed. It didn’t help that I desperately needed to make a pit stop and I think that sealed the walking deal. I met Carrie on the last mile and we walked home together with Buster trotting ahead. When I saw him take a crap, I envied him

The rest of the day I wasted by putting off a paper I had to write about open source software. It was only 700 words but I put it off until the evening which means I dreaded it all day. Will I ever learn? Probably not.

Tonight, I spent the evening catching up on the BLOG and finally got them all posted. So tonight, I’ve written many entries and formatted even more. I’d be scared to track the hours I spend on this thing but I have to tell myself it’s worth it, if only for posterity.

My daughter was picked to go to the combined 4th and 5th grade class they started at her school. Her standardized test she took last year came back and she nearly aced everything. She’s my sweet little brainiac and I couldn’t be more proud. My son also did well, especially in math so it was a good day for our family. I’m lucky to have two kids who do well in school and I have to give most of the credit to Carrie who tirelessly helps and encourages them.

If you’re reading this and are waiting for a response to an email you sent, please be patient. Now that I caught up with the BLOGs, I can turn my attention to the emails that have stacked up.

Free Advice for Today:
Be kinder than necessary.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 1997

Monday, August 25, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“The early worm gets eaten by the bird, so sleep late.” 
- Unknown

Tonight I dealt with the cellular phone setup debacle.

It’s partly my fault for a couple of reasons but not entirely. I can partly blame it on my wife who insisted we set up our cell phones while we were in Virginia so that we would have connectivity all through the big move. Technically, it shouldn’t matter that we would be using them in California for a month because we have free long distance and nation-wide calling. Technically. The reality is not the same.

My first big mistake was not setting up my voice mail all the way while I was in Virginia. They programmed in the number to the speed dial #1 but since I was unaware of this, I figured out how to store numbers first and assigned my wife’s cell to the #1 on the speed dial, unknowingly erasing the number I needed for voicemail.

Then when I tried to access my voicemail for the first time, I really confused the dog crap out of the phone and it said I had no number for voicemail. This all happened late into the night on the eve of my return to California so help was non-existent and by the time they would arrive at work, I’d be over Kansas somewhere. My reaction was simply a few choice cuss words. (Actually, I blamed my poor wife again because she had gone shopping with my instruction booklet in her purse and my logic was that if I had the book, I would have discovered that I needed tech support while they were still open. Yeah, it was a stretch but someone had to be blamed. That and the fact that I am an ass.)

Tonight I decided to take care of this little problem which, in hindsight, was not the best night since I ran this morning and worked out this afternoon. I was tired and moody but decided it was time to get the voicemail thing straightened out.

My wife had actually called the tech center while I was working out and got it set back up to where all I had to do was call my voicemail and get it set up. Sounds easy, huh? Well, not exactly. I called up the speed dial and got the voicemail. Cool. I recorded my name (third time was a charm) and chose a password. Double cool.

Flush with success, I hung up and decided to dial right back to see what my voicemail access sounded like. I pushed #1 and I heard this:


Naturally, I hung up.

Then my phone rang so I answered it:

Me: “Hello”
Him: “Who’s this?”
Me (sounding perturbed): “You called me, who’s this?”

At this point my reception hit the crapper so I started wandering about the house trying to find a hot spot, repeating “Hello?”

Him: “Who’s this?”
Me (sounding perturbed again): “You called me, who’s this?”

I then decided to come clean and explain to this mystery person what was going on (likely more than he wanted to know). I told him that I would try to call my voicemail one more time and not to get pissed if I called right back.

I hung up and speed dialed #1 and he answered saying “Yeah, it’s me again.”

Me: “OK, sorry. I won’t call again. I’ll call my cell service provider and straighten it out.”

The next piece of bad news was when the recording to Cingular Tech Support said something like this:

“Hello. We are experiencing an unusually large amount of calls. Please stay on the line and a representative will be with you shortly.”

Roughly translated, this says:

“Hello. You are screwed. We pay half a dozen desperate halfwits minimum wage to handle about 10,000 calls per hour so for the next hour, you can listen to poorly made commercials while we have you trapped on the phone.”

I waited for what seemed forever before I got through and then tried to explain what happened. Of course it’s the most complicated scenario ever conceived with a mysterious never-before occurrence so what made me think I could convey it to Jo-Jo the cell phone help guy? He also said they were closing in 9 minutes which really boosted my confidence in his motivation to solve my problem.

After mumbling into the phone and typing frantically, he kept trying different high speed approaches because he was a California tech support and my account was in Virginia. This is apparently analogous to the pre-Rosetta Stone attempts to crack hieroglyphics. Eventually he told me he couldn’t help me which I could have told him two minutes into this half hour interaction.

He then told me to call the after-hours tech support line and they could get to my account. I called. I waited. I waited some more. When I was done, I then proceeded to wait while I waited to be waited upon. Finally after 20 minutes, I waited once more. After a few more minutes of waiting, I stood by.

Eventually, someone came on the line and I had to stick my tongue back in my mouth and wipe the drool from my chin. I conveyed my sad tale and at least this woman sounded like she had an interest in helping me.

We tried a bunch of things but it came down to this explanation:

Because I was using my Virginia phone in California where I tried to set up the Virginia-based voicemail, I confused the system and it calls some poor slob. So instead of using the usual voicemail number, I just call my own number, press #, enter my code, and I can get to it from there.

When I get back to Virginia, I can once again use my speed dial, or so she says. She also said she reset my password but the old one was the only one that worked so who knows. Tomorrow when I try to check my messages, I might connect to the dead and have the ability to talk to anyone not living:

“Yeah, can you put on Uday and Quasay? Hey guys, we really nailed you two idiots and guess what, your dead bodies were shown all over the TV and you looked like $#!%$#!”

I knew I had hit rock bottom when I couldn’t get a signal in my house at one point and found myself outside on the trampoline in the dark with my cell phone, listening to my voicemail. Cussing.

So that was a full hour of “Let’s Play Cell Phone Aggravation.”

Free Advice for Today:
Strive for excellence, not perfection.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 1997

Sunday, August 24, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“Never buy a car you can't push.” 
- Unknown

I’m so far behind the BLOG that it hurts.

But not as much as a 0300 wake up call (that’s East Coast time so midnight for the West Coast) that was supposed to be 0230 for the early flight from Virginia to Monterey (actually Baltimore to San Jose). So I squeezed an extra half hour to make a grand total of three hours of sleep. Ahh, the joy of traveling.

The reason this ridiculous wake up call was simple: I had a 0655 flight and it was 2 ½ hours from where I was staying. You know I have good friends on that end that will wake up at 0300 to drive me there (and then drive back, in case you missed that).

The only thing that interrupted the long ride was the stop at McD’s for something to stop the coffee from eating my stomach lining. The line was too long and we were late so we settled for a Duncan Donut. Yes, I traded a McNasty breakfast sandwich for a deep-fried Crisco ball but at the time, I couldn’t really care much less. Well, maybe I could…naw, I couldn’t.

Getting to the airport on time, I was once again subjected to the security point mess. I might be looking into this too much but job satisfaction was not at an all-time high at the security point. But it was nice to be given accusatory attitude at such an early hour. I rolled with the punches from this modern, necessary evil and I felt safe that no one would use the lethal nose-hair picker to down the plane. I did think it ironic that a Middle Eastern worker, turban and all, was checking the bags. I had no problem with that but there was just something comical about that.

The first flight went well and I got a window seat and commented to my wife that in all the plane trips I’ve taken, I’ve never NOT gotten a wing seat. No screaming kids so I was happy, or at least I think I was because the next thing I knew, it was over and I had a hat mark over half my face where I had leaned on it during my unconscious thrashing that passed as sleep.

The second trip, I was not so lucky because the gentleman behind me decided that the back of my seat was a good springboard every time he wanted to get out of his seat which was about 400 times. As though that wasn’t enough, he wanted to make sure his wife heard his brilliant observations, along with all the people in the plane next to us on the tarmac. When that was over, he switched over to the throat clearing for the remainder of the flight. I really wanted to rip out his esophagus and show it to him.

“See, it’s clear. Nothing here, and nothing there. You can take this. Thanks.”

Finally we arrived and tried to escape the mass of humanity that was the San Jose Airport which was obviously given away free airfare because the greater metropolitan United States of America decided to show up. We were salmon. They were water. Fat, poorly clothed, lost, in-the-way, water.

As you may have guessed, I was a bit spent after driving 2 ½ hours, flying 2 hours, laying-over 1 ½ hours, and then flying 3 ½ hours only to find myself staring at another 1 hour drive home. But the soothing ointment had to be getting my truck out of long term parking (insert fecicious tone). I knew the cost but that didn’t stop me from defecating my undies when she told me I owed her $75.

This was long term PARKING, not long term hostage-taking. As much as I love Trucky Truckasaurus, it still chaffed my naughty bits to pay that amount for four days of nothing. See, I’m getting pissed all over again!!!

She should have known not to be right. We’ve been married for 15 years and she should know that when I complain loudly about the onramp not being marked that the response:

“It’s right there. Didn’t you see it?”

was not the correct response. Not when I’ve had a few hours of sleep and traveled across the country. Even when you’re right, sometimes it’s not wise to point it out. This scenario marked the beginning of the Silent Ride all the way home. She should have known.

When we got home, all I wanted to do was sleep. But I hadn’t seen the kids in 4 days and we had to run the details of our new house (along with pictures) across the in-laws (which I was happy and proud to do). I figured a nap after Carrie took them back to the airport was in order but I laid down long enough to discover that I was simply too tired to sleep (a statement I never thought I’d make).

So here I sit, writing my BLOG, wondering how many other entries I owe. Yes, I did write some but not all and now I have to order them in a coherent manner, filling in the gaps before I proceed. But the trip, the stress, and the insomnia are catching up with me and I’m fading fast. Maybe just one morrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr <snore>

Free Advice for Today:
Use seat belts.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 1997

Saturday, August 23, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.” 
- Unknown

Sir Phil was supposed to wake me at sunrise so we could take the dog for a walk. Sir Phil slept in until 0800 and did not wake me. I was confused but not mad at Sir Phil. Turns out he didn’t hear me ask him to wake me up. This is normal behavior for Sir Phil.

There was nothing to do until 1130 when the house inspection was scheduled. Sir Phil wanted to show me something so we took off to run some errands. The place he wanted to take me to was a brewery bigger than a home-brewery setup but ran by a collection of home brewers. They set up their equipment in a small warehouse and were open for about 5 hours on Wednesdays and Saturdays. There were no signs pointing to where they were and the feeling I got was that you had to know about these guys to find them. They sold three different brews in something called a growler. I found this endlessly amusing since it’s the term I use for taking a dump but to them, it meant the glass gallon jug you bought for like $28 and then get refills for $4. You know, for the repeat alcoholic.

So at 1000 on a Saturday morning (normally when I’m in the teen miles of my long run) I was sipping beer samples and eating salsa chips to cleanse the pallet. The beer hit me like a sledgehammer between the horns and I left not even caring that I normally don’t do the micro-brew thing. Like Sir Phil claims, I too am a beer barbarian.

We got the house early (as I’m learning is not normal in the Virginia area) and the current owner invited us in. She was very nice and forthcoming with small problems with the house (dog tried to chew through French door, excuse me, Freedom door, husband fell through the attack, etc.) She told us we could have the piano because it was too heavy to move and this was a huge deal for us because we have been looking for a piano for our daughter for over a year. They’d also leave the swing set in back. SCORE!!!

When he finally showed, the inspector was, well, not in the running for Mr. Personality. I was led to believe that I should follow him around and he would explain everything he was doing and saw. He, on the other hand, acted like my presence was as necessary as teets on a boar hog. In other words, he totally ignored me and treated my questions like annoyances. I took about 5 minutes of this and then decided to look around on my own. As much as I would have loved to tell this guy what I thought of his interpersonal communication habits, I knew he was in the better position since I was paying him to weed out any problems with the house. Just like your barber, the person who cooks your food, the person you sleep next to, and your proctologist, he’s just not one you want to piss off.

He found a few minor items but over all, the house was in good shape. It ends up the owner was a certified plumber and electrician so he kept the house in good condition but I found it funny that the items we did find were electrical and plumbing related. The cobbler’s kids have not shoes.

Next in our day of fun, we went to Best Buy where Sir Phil wanted to get a wireless router for his Internet and Carrie wanted to get cell phones.

Sir Phil was under the mistaken understanding that I knew this technology and would have insight to buying the right components. Sometimes Sir Phil can be very trusting and naive, not of technology but of my abilities. When we went over to the routers, I summoned all the power of my bachelor’s degree in technical communications and nearly completed Master’s degree in IT and … called over the 19 year old punk in the red Best Buy shirt and ask him what we needed. I tried to ask a few questions that made me sound like I was making an informed decision but in the end, it was taking his word and hoping he was disgruntled at a morning episode of Spongebob or something.

Meanwhile, Carrie had wandered over to the Cingular counter and found out what we had to have, in the form of two phones and a $50 withdrawal from my disposable earnings per month. For the second time in a half hour, I was bombarded with details I probably should have known more about and felt like a goon. I think I actually felt my front teeth start to buck.

In the end, that’s where I think I had it shoved. Actually, it might be a good deal or it might not. I do know that my wife is excited about it and feels we got a good deal but I just don’t trust the cell phone industry. Pessimism aside, I know that some how, some way, the deal that’s too good to be true will find its way past my Fruit of the Looms and go into warp drive. It gives a new meaning to the term “Rollover Minutes.”

Rollover and I’ll be done in a minute.

Free Advice for Today:
Pay your bills on time.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 1997

Friday, August 22, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“If you can't be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.” 
- Unknown

** I added a story to the top of Wednesday August 20th about the Chicago Airport toilets.

Today was a day of waiting. It’s a nerve-racking spot to be in when you have only 3 days to buy a house and you have to sit back and do nothing for one of them. I spent a lot of money to fly out to Virginia and I really didn’t want to return empty-handed. It was a big gamble and I don’t even like to play the slots in Vegas!

We gave our bid for the house and we had to wait until the agent presented the homeowners with the two competing offers so in essence, we had to sit back and bite our fingernails to the cuticle. Then to the knuckle. I stopped at my elbow.

Instead of sitting around, we decided to go to the base and take a look around. Carrie had never seen Quantico and the two times I had been there (OCS and TBS), I was terribly lonely for her so it was surreal to show her around.

The first place we went was OCS. As we drove there, the familiar pit formed in my stomach; that place just always gives me the creeps. We stayed in the car and drove around the area where I spent 6 agonizing weeks being treated like scum as I explained to her all the different areas. There were no candidates around so I assumed no classes were in progress which makes sense. This was the time I started TBS in 1997 so they would have just graduated a class who were now in TBS.

The memories surfaced of my time there and I was glad to leave. Just not a fun time in the life of Jason.

Next we went to the exchange and shopped around. It felt good to be back among Marines and I realized how much I missed it. The elderly gentleman in front of us in line was a retired general and apologized for taking so long (there was a problem with the flag case he ordered) and we both assured him we were in no hurry. For all the irritability I spout out, I really had no complaints about this delay. This Marine was a general. Period. Take all day if you need it, Sir.

The other thing I noticed is the youth. Seemingly very young girls were pushing around baby carriages and I remembered how young Marine wives tend to be (and how older I’m feeling these days). At 34, I’m starting to represent the dinosaur but I can still out-PT the little bastards!!! Oops, sorry.

We finished out our tour of the base and saw the belly-button of the Marine Corps, what I like to call the de facto Headquarters Marine Corps. You can see it at the beginning of any Major Dad show where they show a big lawn and a building with a flagpole in front. That’s the HQMC.

I also saw where I’ll possibly work which is walking distance from the train station. I realized that life is about to change drastically for me.

For lunch, we hit The Command Post which is in the actual town of Quantico. Interestingly enough, the town (a tiny little one-street slum full of haircut shops and uniform stores) is actually within the perimeter of the base. How they work access I have no idea but if Joe the Terrorist wanted to get in, all he’d have to do is buy a train ticket and it drops him off ¼ mile from HQMC, no credentials needed. Why they guard the two other gates, I’m not sure.

The Command Post is a little bar and grill famous for having a butt load of Marine paraphernalia from posters to tables with a circular pattern of M16 rounds under the glass. I remembered they had the best club sandwiches so that’s where we strapped on the feed bag.

I wanted to go to TBS but it was about 1530 and we wanted to get home to hear about the house. Instead, we were introduced to I-95 southbound on a Friday afternoon. I think I saw a slug zoom past me at one point. It was painful to say the least but we finally got home without me ripping the beating hearts out of at least 300 people, like I wanted.

When we got home and called, they said they were presenting the offers at 1900. 1900?!!! What, a whole day wasted? As you might guess, I was not too happy about this and all the worst-case scenarios ran though my head. What if we don’t get it, we have only one more day. What if there’s a delay? What if we can't find anything? What if my sweat glands just shut down due to overuse? What if the humidity decreased below 98% for one stinking moment?

The end was almost anti-climatic. I was in the middle of explaining something technical to Sir Phil and was really into my explanation when the phone rang. I was perturbed because I was afraid I’d lose my audience or my train of thought, or more likely, both. Sir Phil handed me the phone and said it was my agent.

Me: Hello?
Agent: We have a small problem.

Two things occurred to me at this moment. First, these are not the introductory words you want to hear when you are waiting for news about your house. Second, I should loosen my grip of the phone before it pulverizes.

Me: What is it?
Agent: They want to close on September 20th.

We don’t move out of our base housing until Sept 26th and therefore will not start getting money for housing until then. Plus, we won’t get to Virginia until October 20ish so we had requested closing around October 15th. So I attacked my "head of the house" responsibility head on and yelled:

Me (away from the phone): CARRIE?
Her: What?
Me: They want to close on September 20th. Is that OK?
Her: That’s great! OK.
Me (back to the phone): That’s great! OK.
Agent: Well, it looks like you got yourself a house. They took your bid. I’ll set up the inspection tomorrow and call you back.
Me: OK, thanks.

I then put down the phone and picked up with my technical explanation that I was dying to finish. Just then, Carrie walked in and Sir Phil interrupted me and said:

“You just bought your first house, you Snapperhead. Give your wife a hug or something.”

I did and we congratulated each other and I wondered why I took the news so flippedly. At the time, I really was more interested in finishing my technical explanation than I was at celebrating. I surprise even myself sometimes.

Needless to say, I never got to finish my explanation and then the excitement hit me that I was a home owner and had succeeded in my mission. It was more of a relief than anything else and I slept just fine, considering I had just spent over $200,000 that I don't have.

Free Advice for Today:
Attend class reunions.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 1997

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“Eat a live toad in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you for the rest of the day.” 
- Unknown

**I was on a trip to VA and recorded a BLOG here and there so I'll post them in groups until I hit a missed day. Then I'll have to write that and post again. In other words, stay tuned, their coming in bunches but they're coming.

I’d rather be running a marathon than buy a house. Less stress and effort.

Today, Carrie and I partook in the wonderful process of buying a house, from the loan application through lookie-looing. I’m so tired I could vomit if I had the energy.

It started when we woke up after a rather warm night of sleep (I didn’t sleep all that great so was a bit less than chipper, as my wife can attest). When we got up, we got ready and found out that we had to travel from point A, where we are at, to point Z, the loan officer’s building somewhere near the moon as far as I could tell. Problem was, we had no idea how to get there so it was the Internet to the rescue.

My laptop didn’t like the flavor of the high speed modem at Sir Phil's (probably due to it never experiencing this great technology) so I had to go dial up (again!) and get to my email. The NPS dial up didn’t like my online webmail service so I had to look up the local Earthlink and go that way. Once this worked, we realized that I my webmail was not working (are you sensing a pattern here?) so we had to call the loan dude back and have him send the directions to my Hotmail account. When we checked that, it was there but then we realized that I had no printing capability. Carrie got busy transcribing the page of directions (very pissedly, I’ll add) and I got our hosts’ daughter to put me online through her account on her computer and I printed them out from there. We were done about the same time. I was smug, she was, well, not smug.

The evil portion of this fiasco was that the account we used was, (swallow hard) AOL! Yes, the evil, putrid, deeply-hated America Online. I nearly barfed up my spleen.

We hit the road for over an hour, going down I-95 which, if you’ve never experienced this little joy, is pretty much rolling down a tube with a black floor, solid green sides, and a gray top. That’s all you see, other than people who drive as though they’re derriere was COMPLETELY inserted up their rectal cavity.

The agent was young, and a bit hyper which I understood since he was getting married in 2 weeks and likely dealing with full-on pre-wedding chic issues. Once there, things went relatively smooth. Well, as smooth as borrowing a few hundred grand can go. We went over roughly sixteen billion pieces of paperwork which, on average, had as many details as atoms in the Universe and then were expected to make an informed decision. At this point, the agent lifted my drooling head off the table and asked me to blink once for yes and twice for no. Before I knew it, we had a loan and when we returned to the car, I wondered where my underwear went and why I craved show tunes.

One thing that really bothered me is that even a $200,000 house would work out to a monthly mortgage of $100 more than the amount we get for a housing allowance. And then we were told that we would not be happy with a $200K house in this area. We agreed that a $220 K ($200/month over my allowance) was our ceiling. Already, my hands were squeezing my ankles too hard and we had just started!

Now it was time to return back to the point A area, taking the rainbow tube back to meet with the second link in our home-buying chain.

The next scenario is a little complicated so I’ll try to be thorough and brief. Let’s see, our original realtor needed to tend to her husband who had a surprise heart attack (is there another kind?). This was a problem for her for obvious reasons and it was a problem for me for two reasons.

1. I had spent quite a lot of money to fly across the country to spend 4 days and 4 days only looking for a house.

2. Compared to her situation, I come off looking like a massive jerk trying to justify that reason #1 should even matter.

So she passed us to her partner who’s like a super-agent but works in another area so was unfamiliar with the territory we were interested in. She came to the local office (not her own) to work with us and as we were looking at the printouts of possible homes, she needed a better map and asked one of the local agents.

This was quite fortuitous because the agent that she asked was last year’s rookie of the year and agreed to jump in and help us (since the agent we had admittedly did not know the area). So in essence, we had two high-speed agents and the four of us seemed to “fit.” We spent the rest of the day zooming around in a Volvo, looking at houses.

You always hear that you shouldn’t buy the first house you see, right? Well, what happens when the first one is almost the exact thing you’re looking for? We kept looking (some being nightmarish, to be kind) and found another one down the line that we both knew was “The One” from the moment we walked in. And it was $197K. I wanted to get excited, I really did. But I kept my cool all the way up to the point where I was doing my Mr. Peepers's impression on one of the exterior porch columns.

We looked at the last few after this and it was like looking at Yugos when you’ve seen a BMW. The problem was that it had been on sale for one day and they already had another bidder so now it was a competition. I really didn’t want to get my hopes up just in case but we still had the first house as a backup so we called the day a success. My plan to hack into the competing bidders’ records and ruin their credit was met with some resistance so I trashed the plan. I’ll settle for really bad thoughts about their lineage.

The rest of the night was spent at the office making a bid contract. Yes, just like the day had begun, paperwork ruled and I drooled. I can’t say I know everything in the legal realm about buying a home but I can tell you I was exposed to it. And when I say “exposed” I mean having someone read legalese to me and me nodding knowingly.

“OK, so I initial here were it says “my Bitch”, right?”
“Uh-huh, so is the first born donated before or after closing?”

Now all we have to do is wait until tomorrow when we find out if our Dream Team can win the bid for us and we are the proud owners of a new home. I’m assured we have a good chance and after this is done, there are only 687 trillion more details to take care of.

I should sleep like a baby tonight (waking up every two ours crying and wet).

Free Advice for Today:
Don't buy a cheap mattress.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 1997

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“Accept that some days you're the pigeon, and some days you're the statue.” 
- Unknown

**Yeah, I missed Tuesday and it's too late to go back and remember what happened. I was on a trip to VA and recorded a BLOG here and there so I'll post them in groups until I hit a missed day. Then I'll have to write that and post again. In other words, stay tuned, their coming in bunches but they're coming.

The Chicago airport has the most advanced toilets in the world. I didn’t know that the greater Illinois area was renown for its commode technology but I’m here to tell you that I was duly impressed.

First, you walk into the general crapper area and it looks like the ship from Aliens with ten foot solid steel cubicles from two inches off the deck to the ceiling. The first pod I walked into looked like it had been used because the lid still had a plastic ass protector on the seat. I went to the next one and to my surprise, same thing. It was then that I noticed the sign that announced that the toilet was equipped with an automatic sanitizing seat protection system (ASSPS) (I’m not making that up!)

I stepped in, feeling I was in a Jeffries Tube, and looked stupidly at the apparatus. God forbid I sit my bare ass on a USED plastic cover. As a person that considers himself pretty tech savvy, I was having a mental convulsion trying to figure this out, despite having the 3 step directions clearly labeled on the wall complete with English and Spanish versions. Of course I only read step one which was to wave a hand in front of the sensor but as I started to do this, I had no idea what was going to happen. Would a little man shuffle in and remove the old plastic cover and replace it with a fresh one? Would I be beamed up to some satellite where my bowels would be sucked dry by some advanced suction device developed by NASA? I just didn’t know.

As I was contemplating this, I realized that I was waving my hand not in front of the ASSPS sensor but was in fact waving in front of the flushing sensor. WHOOOOSH! OK, how’s that supposed to keep the last person’s ass germs from infiltrating my own?

Oh, wrong sensor, there it is. I waved my hand in front of it, feeling as manly as one can after waving in an unnecessary flush. After a few passes with no result, my mind raced with options because, again, no foreign ass cooties could be allowed on my pristine derriere. After about the 4th pass, I must have triggered the system and what followed is an engineering marvel only dwarfed by its sheer scariness.

The toilet seat is covered with a loose plastic wrap and as I triggered the advanced sensor, a little motor started and the plastic actually rotated in a circle much like a sock sliding over a foot. It rotated until it sensed that all new plastic covered the now fully protected seat and stopped. I felt as though I was in the presence of more advanced engineering than my humble bowel movement rated.

For a moment I thought “Do you think it’s just one round tube of plastic and it just rotates around, giving the illusion you are getting a fresh protective coating every time?” I think this must be a common concern because the along with the directions I failed to read, it had a diagram that showed that the plastic is actually on a spool at each end. I think the “used” end would be a really nasty item. It made me to shiver just thinking about it. It also made me shiver when I thought that the used end rolls up on a spool identical to the brand new roll and that no one would be the wiser if the bathroom attendants just rotated old to new. Ewwwww!

As I was sitting there thinking about all this and other mysteries of the Universe, it occurred to me that I didn’t read the other two steps of the directions. Since it was behind me at the time, I concentrated hard to try to figure out the two steps after the hand-waving instruction. What the hell could they be?

Well, sitting in the terminal right now, I can’t remember but I know the second was the explanation that the plastic will rotate. I KNOW they didn’t instruct the user to release the bowels so since I’m too lazy to go back in now and look, it will remain a mystery.

Have you ever been treated less than respectful but in a respectful manner? That’s the way I felt on the American flight from San Jose to Chicago. The stewardess (I don’t care what they want to be called, they are stewardesses!) was one of those persnickety women with an attitude coupled with enough experience to ride the line.

“What exactly did she say to you Sir?”
“Well, it’s not WHAT she said, it’s how she said it.”

Yeah, the explanation doesn’t carry much weight when I hear it and I was there.

When we boarded the plane, we carried all our luggage on and wanted to stow it in the little cabin space between first class and lower class sections (AKA "cattle car"). Since there was already two uprights in there, there was only room for one more, which we used and then put our small duffle bag on top. Later in the flight, I wanted to get my headphones so I moved forward to get them in the duffle bag but when I opened the door, the duffle bag was gone. Great.

Stewardess Ratchet saw this unfold and asked me what I was doing. I told her my bag was gone and she asked where it had been. I told her I had placed it on top and pointed at the others, to which she responded by shutting the little door and informing me that it’s against FAA regulations to stack the bags.

Not current on my FAA regulations, I said “Fine, but where’s my bag?”
“I don’t know sir.”
“Did someone move it?”
“You should check the overheads” and then she walked away.

At this point I wondered if it was against FAA regulations for her to kiss me straight on the ass.

I found my bag across the way but I gave her the hairy eyeball for the rest of the flight. She kept getting in the way of the movie (The Core which was actually quite good if you suspend your basic knowledge of… OK everything.) and obviously played the role of enforcer of all things FAA regulated to include seat backs and tray up to their upright position, no cellular phones or any other electronic devices until the captain has ok’ed it, etc. And there was a lot of etc!!!

The last leg of the trip was only memorable by the fact that “Loud Little Girl With Seemingly Oblivious Dad Sitting Next To Her” was sitting across the aisle. The dad somehow did not notice that his toddler was speaking at about 160 decibels and he obviously thought everyone on the plane was interested in his little darling’s interpretations of everything from the plane moving to the lights on the ceiling display. My kingdom for a blow-dart!!!!

But I had something better: MP3 player!!! Ahhh, I shut out the world leaving my poor wife to listen to the inane blabberings of a hyper 4 year old who, God save me, I wanted head butt away to nappy land.

When we landed at BWI, the “plane” portion of our “planes, trains, and automobile” fiasco began. Ironically, it went in exactly that order.

Right away, we encountered the first of many morons I wanted to kill (slowly, painfully, and staring into his eyes so he could peer into my black soul!!!). He was sitting at the counter with the galactically misnamed “Information” emblazoned on it.

All I wanted to know was this: if I could take the bus to get to the metro OR did I have to follow the directions given to me by my friend and take the train.

This question seemed to be on the order of E=MC2 for a monkey to this man and if only that was the case, so be it. I’ve seen ignorance and can at least accept its existence. But this guy crossed a line and was not only an idiot, but he was rude about it. Before I got halfway through my background explanation (which he needed to know to understand the question), he interrupted and said “What is your question?”

He says this to a guy on three hours of sleep and a continent of air travel right behind him. I gritted my teeth and stared at him. I started again, trying to hurry my explanation and then he interrupted once more and started to say “Well, why did you say you wanted to ride the bus when you are going…” finishing out the rude question with a total misinterpretation of BOTH partially-executed explanations he had interrupted.

I think he saw the rage flash in my eyes as I took a deep breath, ready to unleash. I know my wife felt it from behind me so she stepped in and offered her version but it was no use and I came milliseconds from just going completely nuclear. But I knew I couldn’t make a public scene this guy really deserved and simply swallowed my burning desire to dress him down and walked off.

BTW, he told her to go right outside and catch the bus to the train station. We couldn’t flag one down so she went back in and asked him if he was sure. He said he was so we tried again. It took us asking a Burger King worker on a smoke break to get the information that to catch the bus to the train station, you had to go downstairs, starting two feet from the information station. It took everything I had in my being not to strangle the moron on the way by. I was red hot.

When we got down there, there was a big sign that said “Shuttle Bus Stop to Amtrak Station.” I wondered if the entire sign could fit up his ass or if I’d have to break it into chunks.

It took the entire shuttle ride to cool off. By the time we got to the train station, I could talk and the fact that we hopped onto the train relatively smoothly and enjoyed a 30 minute glide finally soothed me. My wife commented that it was like we were on rails and in the time it took me to contemplate that statement, I was pissed again that I fell for it and that it took me so long to understand the joke. Yes, I was on a knife’s edge so Carrie decided that eggshells were required.

After the train, we lugged our luggage from the station to the metro. Because we had no idea how things worked, we were tired, ignorant, short-tempered, and suffering from the mugginess that is Virginia in August. Like the newbies we were, we floundered around trying to figure out where we were going, how much it would cost, how to purchase the tickets, how to insert them into the machine, which line to get on, and how to board the correct one. In other words, we looked like uber-dorks.

Finally, we got the tickets (after the machine spit out the soft $1 bill a few dozen times) and boarded the blue line (similar to the one in my forehead by this time). Not long after, we had two Army LtCols and an Air Force LtCol in the same car and I realized I was in the land of senior officers where, if you don’t have a star on your shoulder, you might as well be a private. These “light colonels” were mere infants around here which, I was painfully aware, made me an embryo (but better than a butter bar zygote!!).

We got to our destination and for what we hoped would be the last time, lugged our luggage out to the “kiss and ride” area. I’m not kidding, they had official signs labeling this area as such and the thought occurred to me that I would pass on the “kiss” portion when Sir Phil came to pick me up.

I’m not complaining about the next event because Sir Phil is a man I really like and respect. Plus, he’s lodging me for free while I’m here, providing a car, feeding me, and, most importantly, might read this BLOG from time to time.

The non-complaint has something to do with the 45 minute wait in the sweltering mugginess once we hit the link up point. It ends up he got lost a bit which tacked on a half hour to the wait but for the above reasons, and the fact that I’m a fellow “get lost in a closet” type of guy, I was not phased by the final culmination of our travel day. Anyway, Sir Phil would have to do something pretty heinous to make me mad at him and this just didn’t even raise a blip on the radar.

We stopped by the quickie mart to pick up beer (the sweet nectar of life and Goddess of Post-Travel Weariness) where we got to witness the indigenous wildlife the greater Fredericksburg area.

First, there was Bubba with no shirt, dirty hat, scruffy growth on the dirty, sun-beaten face buying cigarettes.

Then there was Old Man Wilber behind the counter, staring over his protruding gut and being completely stunned at the advanced technology that was the Windows interface selling lottery tickets (yes, to Bubba, along with the cigarettes, cuz Bubba goin beya big-pants rich folk sum day!)

I felt I had way too many teeth to be in there but the fact that I was carrying nothing but a twelve pack of Coors light endeared me to the locals and they let me go on my way. I think if they’d have been cans, I might have been elected mayor.

Free Advice for Today:
“Drive as you wish your kids would. Never speed or drive recklessly with children in the car.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 1997

Monday, August 18, 2003

Quote of the Day:
- Unknown


This morning’s 6 mile run felt like I had someone on my shoulders. Someone prone to eat Ho-Hos by the pallet. I got through it but it was harder than woodpecker lips and I was glad to be done with it. It was like I hadn’t run in weeks. WTFO?

Afterwards I leisurely got ready for my 1040 doctor’s appointment which at 1000 I discovered was actually at 1020. WTFO Part II! I jumped around like a fool, getting out the door in a matter of minutes and getting to the medical desk at exactly 1022. The lovely oriental woman with the same birthtyear as a 300 ft tall California Redwood informed me to try to be a little earlier next time. I wanted to inform her to kiss my ass this time, next time, and every time, but I refrained.

The whole doctor’s appointment was a waste of time because of the delay it took to get it. My shoulder had pretty much healed except for some tingly sensation in my hand a couple times a day (I think I have a pinched nerve or something). Last time they sent me away with some home physical therapy that didn’t help and this time, they were going to set me up with a physical therapist. But since I’m moving next month, there was no time and I’ll just take care of it when I get there.

I took the opportunity to set up an appointment from a biopsy punch of a peculiar spot on my arm. I’ve done this once and it came back negative but I want to check it again. When the thing starts talking to me, I’ll really start to worry.

After setting up the appointment, I went to the admin shop to turn in some paperwork. When I got there, I discovered that in my rush out the door, I had left my folder at the house. WTFO Part 3!!!

In an effort to salvage my errand-filled day, I went to get a haircut. There are three military places around here to get a haircut and two of them (the ones closest to me) are notorious for making your head look like a small woodland animal either died there or crapped and then died there. The third place is harder to get to but has a reputation for giving better haircuts, but I knew I was in trouble when I said “Medium reg, trim the top” and the lady started by buzzing up ¾ of my head. The kicker was when she used an attachment on the buzzer and just plowed over the top of my head. As I expected, I looked like a damn boot walking out of there. Maybe she was the sister of the medical receptionist and I had upset the Stigean Witches. The one that cut my hair obviously didn’t have the eye at the time.

I went home and fiddled around for the rest of the day until Glenn came over for to watch Monday Night Football. He’s a geo right now so we have him over every Monday night and Carrie makes us some enormous meal that we wash down with beer. It was good to have him over.

After Glenn left, I got into working on some new BLOGing software. With the help of a someone that uses it (Thanks Ryan!) I learned that I rate a MySQL database through my web space provider. After fumbling around like a fool, I finally got the thing set up and then tinkered with the WordPress software until I broke the lock. Finally I hit pay dirt and the thing worked but I still don’t know if I’m going to use it.

Here’s the good and bad:


  • It’s a MySQL database (high cool factor)
  • It takes care of the overall look
  • Has it’s own search function
  • I can post from anywhere


  • The input interface shows the markup
  • Limited formatting on the fly (as opposed to Dreamweaver)
  • BLOGs do not get indexed into my site search engine
  • feels like less control over the BLOG entries

I don’t know, I’m still deciding but the way I do it now (punch the thoughts out in Word, cut and past into the blog.html file, format using awesome DW capabilities, save, FTP) is hard to beat. Blogging software might be cool but I think I have more functionality doing it the “bare knuckles” way of pasting into html than by using the automated BLOG software capability of a database. Sometimes newer is not better and old school rules.

Free Advice for Today:
“Never fry bacon while naked.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 1997

Sunday, August 17, 2003

Quote of the Day:
- Unknown

The BLOG blues got the better of me and I ended up succumbing yesterday. I just couldn’t find the motivation to BLOG and I thought a half-hearted BLOG was worse than none at all so I chose the lesser of two evils.

The good news is that I finished my 17 mile run strong but was left a quivering waste for the rest of the day. I had a gear fight for the first couple of miles that started with my MP3 player batteries dying. I always carry a spare but for the third time in a row, they didn’t work even though they were brand new. The last two times this happened, I assumed it was because I kept them in the netted pocket on the outside of my butt-pack and the elements somehow corroded them. But I had sealed the latest set in a plastic bag so I knew they were fresh. After 5 minutes of fussing and cussing, I got the bastards to work and then it occurred to me that the other two sets were probably perfectly good. It’s just my MP3 player is finicky about new batteries and you have to have them in just right. That, and a lot of public cussing seems to do the trick.

Now my little routine was messed up (9 minutes of running, one minute of walking) and I was pissed. As often happens in these situations, I started fighting my gear. For no apparent reason, sometimes my gear just rebels spontaneously. The first thing was that the dead batteries I put back in my netted pocket started clanking together and driving me nuts, causing me to stop and discard them to the side of the road (don’t worry, I picked them up on the way back). Then the strap was too loose. Then it was too tight. Then my shirt was pulled awkwardly. Then the cord of my headphones kept getting caught under my butt-pack. Then my sunglasses fogged. Like I said, sometimes the gear just goes all rebel-like.

Finally things smoothed out and I enjoyed the overcast, cool, misty morning. That is until I pulled my next bonehead move. Thinking back on this, I can’t qualify the next as a bad move. The “Tour of Italy” I ate the night before decided it wanted a tour of Monterey at about the 3 mile mark. I had tried to drop the kids at the pool before I left but no joy. I decided yet another break was warranted and I hit the public beach bathroom for a successful porcelain pit stop. Although this once again threw my running schedule in disarray, at least I was primed for a good run.

Now for the bonehead move. I was running along the detour path by the wharf when I had to pass a couple taking up the entire path. As I passed them, I was coming to an intersection where I had to take a sharp right and like a buffoon, I decided to show off a little and grab the thick light pole on the corner to whip myself around. I reached out with my right hand, smacking the pole and as my body rotated at an accelerated speed around the corner, my hand rotated around the pole. What I failed to realize is that the pole had a crossing signal panel on the opposite side and as my hand slid around the pole, the inside of my wrist came in contact with the leading edge of the square metal panel.

I knew instantly I was cut and cut deep enough to bleed. My fist thought was that I looked like I tried to commit suicide and the second thought was that I would have to explain to someone I was not suicidal but could not think of a way to explain it without sounding like someone who IS suicidal but not wanting anyone to know. I thought that I could explain how to correctly slit your wrist by cutting parallel to your arm and that if I intended to kill myself, I would attempt to excel at it like every other aspect of my life and not pull the rookie move of cutting left to right.

OK, you think of goofy shit when your running long distance and slit your own wrist open.

At the only water fountain about 5 minutes away, I cleaned up the wrist and was thankful that endorphins had minimized any pain that I’m sure I’d have to deal with once my run was over. Idiocy does have a price but sometimes it accepts an IOU.

The rest of the run was uneventful and I felt relatively good at the end, running a faster pace (just under 10 minute miles) than the 16 miler last week. I still took my ice bath and still showered, was fed, and had a nap. Then, as though I had used up my movement quota for the weekend, proceeded to do a lot of nothing for the rest of the weekend.

Today, I finished the fecal matter that is Anthony Swofford’s Jarhead (spit!). Here is my review and I had a hell of a time cutting it down to under 1000 words for the www.amazon.com review. I am so disgusted with the book but feel I’ve been let out of prison. I am free to continue reading and do not have to force myself to crack the book ever again. The sheer disdain I had for the book kept me from getting to it very often which prolonged the completion. Today, I finished, wrote my scathing review, and am free. I hope no one ever has to write a similar thought about anything I might publish in the future.

(Tell me what you think of the new font and color. Good? Bad?)

Free Advice for Today:
“Never buy a house without a fireplace.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 1997

Friday, August 15, 2003

Quote of the Day:
- Unknown

For the second night in a row, I’m not very motivated to do the BLOG thing but here I am.

The day started with an email from the Captain who was sent a complaint about me. Start here for the history on this one.

The funny thing is that I was actually nervous before I opened the email. Like every time I’m going through a contentious event with my website, I get apprehensive to read email on the chance that I pissed someone off and I have to get all wrapped in a response. Then I get uptight about if I came across the way I really felt in my response. So when I saw the email from this Captain, I went and got a cup of coffee before opening it. Here is what it said:


After re-reading all of the related correspondences, I do believe your position has merit. All things considered--i.e., the tone of the Gy's email coupled with his obvious misreading of, or reading to much into, your site--I believed that you have remained professional. I would like to let you know that email I sent to you was forward to all who may have received the original "complaint." You may be delighted to hear that all who have replied to me regarding the issue agreed with me and were not as quick to assume the "racially-charged conclusion."

Sorry for the delayed response since I imagine you have moved on from this little episode; however, I thought you might be interested in knowing (what I hope to be) the end result.

So I felt good all morning and wrote him back a big response.

The second email I will share was from a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel who was writing a book and needed to know a little bit more about the jargon used by Drill Instructors in boot camp. After responding to him, I realized I had a lot of fun strolling down memory lane. Here is what I said:

Colonel (),

Thanks for the email and I'd be glad to help.

You would get a lot of good ideas from Full Metal Jacket but be careful about using it verbatim. Every Marine knows the script by heart. I have the script if you would like a copy.

Yes, the DIs are not supposed to cuss so they come up with pretty colorful replacements.

Here are some replacements and general bootcamp vocab that I remember:

Doggone = goddamn
Friggin', freakin', flippin' = the "F" work and its variants
Dick-skinners = hands
Dick-holsters = mouth
Pie hole, suck, sewer, soup-cooler = mouth
Jody = the guy messing with your girlfriend back home (also the cadence we sing on runs or humps)
Susie Rottencrotch = any girl back home

Other "DI"isms

- liberal uses of the term "nasty"
- starting off a general complaint about the platoon with "I DON'T KNOW WHY..."
- ending sentences with a quick "YOU UNDERSTAND?" which incites an instantaneous "YES, SIR!"
- referring to everything as "my" such as "I don't know why you nasty recruits are taking so long to square away my squadbay!!!!"
- counting down from 10 when he wants something done but then skipping numbers and accelerating as he gets closer to zero (9, 8, 7, 5, 2, ZEROOOOO!!!"). When he gets to zero, the platoon freezes in whatever position they are in and yell "FREEZE, PRIVATE, FREEZE!!!" Then the DI goes around and starts yelling at those not done and yells even louder when someone moves to try to sneak some progress in.
- referring to inventive punishments as "games": "We can play this all day! I got more games than Milton Bradley!!!!"
- When you do something wrong, the DIs will make you do exercises at an impossible pace. The official term is "Incentive Training" or IT, but it's more commonly known as thrashing or smoking a private.

Don't forget that the recruit starts and ends every sentence with "Sir" and always uses the third person when referring to himself. Also, he has to ask permission to speak and always calles the Drill Instructor by his title, rank, and name. For example, this is how a recruit would ask to go to the bathroom:

"Sir, Recruit Grose requests permission to speak to Drill Instructor Staff Sergeant Wertjes, Sir!"
"Sir, this recruit requests permission to use the head, Sir!"

I hope this helps you, Sir. I would be glad to help you out with any specific portions of your book or look over the Marine parts for accuracy, language, etc. If not me, make sure you find a Marine to do it.

Send me an email if you need anything else.

Jason D. Grose
United States Marine Corps

Tonight was also date night so the last topic tonight is The Olive Garden. Every 3rd Friday of the month, I take my wife on a date and she had recently seen a dish that tickled her tastebuds. After 15 years of marriage, I know this can mean only one thing: we must go and get it for her.

I’ve heard that when you are at The Olive Garden, you’re with family. Well, my family sucked ass in the service department tonight. The food was good but the service was lacking. Charles, our waiter, needs to find another line of work. We had to request our unlimited salad to be removed from the limited category and the unlimited breadsticks morphed into one basket after our request for more seemed to dissipate into the ether.

I was with my lovely wife so I would even forgive the 35 minute wait if it wasn’t followed by a 20 minute wait at the table before the salad and what ended up being the lone basket of bread arrived. That and if I’m paying $15 a plate, I expect a certain level of service, especially after a wait like that.

But I enjoyed my “Tour of Italy” which is code for “enough pasta to feed a small community.” It had lasagna, fettuccini alfredo, and breaded chicken parmesan. Add the salad and breadsticks and we’re talking about enough carbs to get me through my 17 mile training run tomorrow (hopefully sans the "Tour" if you know where I'm going with this).

Crappy service aside, let me ask something from those of you that might not be so lucky as I am. I know that not everyone has the means to go out and spend $35 on a incredible Italian dinner with a beautiful woman. Some of you are barely making it in an apartment somewhere or living in a tent in the middle of a desert, away from the ones you love. I know this and I’ve been there myself. Don’t look down on me for enjoying this (or complaining about it either) because I really do realize how good I have it and that it might not always be like this. I remember being in the desert and fantasizing about being able to do things like this and now it’s my time to live those dreams. Wish me well as I wish the same for you some day.

Good night.

Free Advice for Today:
“Be brave. Even if you're not, pretend to be. No one can tell the difference.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 1997

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“You hit the wall. The wall moves back a few yards. It’s not complicated.” 
- Timex ad

This is a BLOG on borrowed time.

I wasn’t even going to write tonight but then I changed my mind. I spent the entire day playing games with Dreamweaver and Access, working on pulling data out of a database and into a webpage or in other words, relearning things I already knew but still had a hell of a day.

I should have known it was going to be a challenge when the temp site I created would not pull data for the presentation I had today, despite the fact that it worked fine last night and I hadn’t done a thing to it since. I really thought the cool thing about computers is that if it works one time, it should execute the same way every time unless you change something to screw it up (as I often do). Obviously this is an ignorant line of thinking.

When I got the laptop back to my lab, I had to resist the temptation to bust it in half over my knee. It had something to do with it not really being mine and the tantrum would be to the tune of about two grand.

I think it sensed my animosity because it started making funny sounds (the hard drive, I think) and then would all but freeze up. I restarted it a couple of times but the CPU usage was pegged out and nothing seemed to be working right. For all my work with computers, I was at a loss of what to do if it crapped out on me. Ironically, the professor I gave the presentation to was rebuilding his machine after being attacked by the MSBlaster worm. I smugly stated “I guess there’s no GOOD time for a computer to crap out on you.” How timely my statement was.

Then something happened that defies the very laws of this Universe. It just started working like nothing happened. I’m not exaggerating, it just stopped being naughty and I just went on with my life. Weird. Unheard of.

I know what you’re thinking and no, I did not get the worm on my computer. I checked my processes, not there. I’ve kept my antivirus up to date and all the latest Windows Updates. I think it was just coincidence that my computer had diarrhea at the same time the worm hit and if you think different, shut up or my laptop might hear. The horses teeth are fine, damn it, stop looking!!!

I know it’s a total bummer that New York all most of the northeast lost their power tonight. I know the people are suffering over it and it’s a total inconvenience but let me share what really, really pisses me off. This is not to diminish the effects of losing electricity for a few hours but for the love of everything that is good in this world, I wanted to choke the living dog feces out of Dan Rather. Leave it to this idiot to over-dramatize an already dramatic event. I really tried to take a mental note of the words he used but suffice it to say that he made it sound like the world was coming to an end.

The classic line was when he said that the people stuck in the subway were “desperate for any news” when they were freed. Right then, they showed a lady turn to the cameraman and say,

“Uh, do they know anything or….”

The cameraman says “No, I haven’t heard anything.”

And the desperation culminated in her saying


It was such an obvious overblown non-news event. Not only did the reporters keep referring to it as “The Black Out of 2003” but they had it in lights behind the anchor desk. There was less drama in the news on 9/11!!!

Let’s end on a good note. I have 2:

1. A good friend I’ve known since college just showed up in town. He will be starting his master’s degree in EE (not common for a Marine). He’s the new father of twins and, back in the day, was a Marine Reservist going through the NROTC program as a midshipman and got a Marine option. But I would tease him endlessly because on uniform days, he had to wear the faggoty whites of a midshipmen even though he was a Marine Reservist.

2. I watched football and as a bonus, John Madden was not announcing. I was able to leave the mute off.

OK, one more quick thing: I heard two new songs on the radio today. A new one from Seal and one from Dido. Either one of these artists, I'll buy their CD sight unseen.

Free Advice for Today:
“Show respect for teachers.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 1997

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“My breathing. I like listening to it. That’s why I don’t wear a mini-disc player, or anything like that. I’d rather listen to me. My breathing is there for the same reason my running is. To remind me I’m alive.” 
- Asics ad

I thought my dental appointment was at 1020 this morning.

I stayed up late last night watching Head of State with Chris Rock (don’t bother renting it unless you thought Glitter and Gigli were worthy of sitting through) so I was gently snoozing until my wife told me my appointment was at 0850. It was 0800. I bolted up, startled not for the last time today.

I made it in only 10 minutes late (damn parking!) but it was no big deal and I was seen right away. The first thing they did was to take X-rays which consisted of standing in this contraption that rotated around my head. I felt like I was being assimilated by the Borg. I was convinced that copious amounts of deadly beams were bombarding my head like a frog in a microwave.

The next phase was taking my blood pressure. Some sailor sits me down, wraps a Velcro cuff on my bicep, pushes a button, and leaves the room. The thought occurred to me to mess with it to see what he would do but I figured he’s just push the button again when he returned. Maybe I could’ve seen how long I could make him my puppet but I was not in the mood.

I had to fill out the annual check up form but it only meant that I sign my name below the three other signatures I had made in years past since I hadn’t contracted syphilis, sleeping disorders, losses of limbs, tuberculosis, dizziness, heart murmurs, venereal disease, halitosis, fainting spells, fatigue, pregnancy, leprosy, nor a host of other ailments. Again, I wonder what would happen if I started playing games with this.

“Yeah, I got a minor case of syphilitic pregnancy right before my left testicle fell off. Is this going to be a problem?”

The check up went fine which is good and someone had cancelled out on the teeth-cleaning civilian so she took care of my cleaning right after. I knew I shouldn’t have eaten that bag of Oreos. Actually, my teeth had been brushed twice and flossed once before I even got there but that didn’t stop her from drawing blood with the barbwire flossing technique she used. Nothing like the taste of your own blood in the morning. The thought occurred to me that she might have read my BLOG entry from the last time I was there where I called her “chatty” but dismissed the thought. Now ican say all I want because I won’t be going back before I transfer. Naw, I’ll be nice.

Today when I told my daughter that I was going to the dentist, she asked “You mean the haunted dentist?” Last March, I told the story of taking my kids and the Sbragia boys to the “Haunted Dentist.” She made me promise that if anything weird happened, that I would tell her. I think this qualifies:

After my appointment, I walked down the hall (with the taste of my blood in my mouth) and like always, felt a tinge of spookiness because the place is like something from The Shining. As I rounded the corner where the elevators were, I saw that one of the elevators was open and empty. Here's Johnny, mother@#$@#$!!

A bit spooked, and like the idiot in the movies that doesn’t listen to that inner voice that’s screaming, I went in. When I reached for the ground floor button, I noticed that it was already lit and the doors closed.

Increment the spook factor by one.

“This is stupid, Jason, what are you nervous about? It’s the middle of the day.”

When the doors opened, I was one floor up from the ground floor and I expected someone to be there. No one was waiting. I pushed the ground floor button and the door closed but then the elevator started going up.

Increment the spook factor AND the annoyance counter by one.

It opened on the third floor where once again, I expected someone to be there that beckoned the elevator but once again, the hallway was empty.

I pushed the ground floor button again and once again, the doors opened to an empty hallway on the floor above the G floor. I stepped out, wondering if I should just use the stairs to get the rest of the way down but I noticed that they were doing construction on the stairs and had them taped off with yellow caution tape. I turned around and the elevator was still open, like it was waiting for me.

With a trembling hand, I pushed G one more time and thankfully, the elevator started to go down. If that door would have opened to the very scene of Hell, complete with volcanic eruptions of fire and pitchforked babies, I wouldn’t have been the least bit shocked.

“Oh, yeah. Figures.”

When the doors opened to the ground level, I scuttled out like a scared little school girl.

Free Advice for Today:
“Sign and carry your organ doner card.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 1997

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“My first 10 steps, they tell me everything. Whether 5 miles will feel like 10, or like nothing at all. Whether I’ll be fighting the wind, or my best time. Just 10 steps. And I know exactly where I’m headed.” 
- Asics ad

Today, I forced myself on an 8-mile training run I really didn’t want to make. My running schedule has been screwed up since Saturday and I never really got my recovery day from the 16-miler on Sunday. But I got out there and busted it out. I’ve had better runs but I’ve definitely had worse.

When I got home, I concentrated on email all day. Here is a particularly memorable one:

Capt. Grose,

First, I want to compliment you on your excellent website. I stumbled across it as I tried to get information on the physical requirements and exercises for Marine Boot Camp. I'm trying to become a police officer in Illinois, and at 32 years old I'm running out of time, but I want to keep trying.

I have met many former Marines who are police officers, and they sound much like you. They are able to share some of the more unpleasant aspects of Marine life while emphasizing the many positives that go along with it.

A short history: I decided at 29 to become a police officer. I grew up in an area with a lot of crime, and there was not a lot of respect for the police, so it was not a career I ever considered.

I'm a journalist by trade, and I got a job covering police and public safety. When I saw what officers actually have to put up with, day in and day out, I decided I was tired of writing about the things other people got to do, and I wanted to do those things myself.

The first agency I was hired by sent me to the academy, and I injured my knee attempting to qualify for the physical fitness test. I had to resign, but I knew I wanted to go and try it again.

Eighteen months later, I was hired again, after rehabbing the knee extensively. However, I missed the minimum sit-ups by one, while passing the other three test (1.5-mile run in under 14:31, bench press 89% of your body weight and a flexibility test. I had to do 34 situps in one minute and ended up with 33.)

To make a long story short, I've been getting some grief about that ever since, for this reason: the guy who was spotting for me offered to tell the academy director I made the minimum, because he felt bad for me. He had already made his and was guaranteed a spot in the academy.

I thought about it for two seconds, then told my spotter I could not start my career on a lie. I've since had people come up to me and say I was stupid, that I betrayed my chosen career by choosing not to take the offer and throwing away the greater good of getting trained and getting on the street.

I'm dismayed by this, because I thought people would see my point of view. I could have lied, and the academy director might never had known, but I faced having to look him in the face for 11 weeks of training and dealing with my co-workers for at least 20 years on the myth I was a standup guy.

Luckily, the cops who served in the USMC were not among those who thought I was crazy. In fact, one of them came up to and said I should have the academy director write a letter of recommendation and tell any department I apply to about the incident. My spotter admitted to it later in the academy because he thought it was an honor violation, and the director called me and said he wanted me to keep trying.

A question I wanted to ask you is, why does it seem so hard for a lot of people to understand what I did? It certainly didn't feel good to fail again, but I didn't want to back into it, either. Someone told me I could have worked off my guilt in lying by trying that much harder to be a great officer, but I think it's still the wrong thing to do.

Also, if I continue to run and do the Daily 16 exercises, do you think that would be enough to keep in shape? My knee is fine, and I'm concentrating on doing many more situps than the minimum so I can qualify. I could get hired by another department as soon as January 2004, and I would be sent back to the same academy I was at last time.

Thank you for your consideration. I know my concerns are not Marine or military specific, but I figured I could reach out to you because so many of your fellow Leathernecks who are now cops have reached out to me without hesitation. I do feel I did the right thing, but I guess enough people have questioned it that I'm second-guessing.

Continued success for your site and your career, Captain.

Here is what I wrote back to him:

One of the problems we have in our society today is the slow unweaving of our moral fiber. The other problem is that as it unweaves, people start accepting it as normal and then it starts working on the people who resist.

Plain and simple, you did the right thing. You stayed true to yourself and can look yourself in the mirror. Once you start accepting the little lies, it grows like a cancer. You had a choice to make, a test, and you passed with flying colors. Anyone that questions that has problems of their own and you should not be swayed by their numbers. You have the moral high ground. Keep it and stay there.

As Marines, we are constantly reminded that we represent something larger than ourselves and our quest is to uphold the highest traditions of the Marine Corps. In the process, we try everyday in everything we do to take the right path despite the hardships or negative consequences. We know that eventually, more positive things will happen as a result than negative ones. We have that faith.

Now do we always live up to that creed? I can say for myself, no, and as a legal officer for a few years, I can attest that we Marines are not perfect. But on average, we hold the mindset I described as a goal and even though we fall short, I think the motivation to strive for it makes us better as a group.

I congratulate you for your courage and now you can enforce the rules as a police officer and any leadership position that comes your way without being a hypocrite. That's infinitely more valuable that a lousy sit-up.

Jason D. Grose
United States Marine Corps

Free Advice for Today:
“Remember that regardless of where you are, not much good happens after midnight.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Monday, August 11, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“My medicine. It’s called Kendall Street; a half-mile, straight uphill. It’s exactly what I need today. Even if I hate the way it tastes.” 
- Asics ad

I have news about my latest controversy over my reference to the KKK. If you have not read my previous entries, read this first for the proper background and then this for the follow up round.

Back? Good.

The Gunnery Sergeant that started this whole thing followed up on his threat to bounce my website against legal authorities, although he felt that the National Naval Officers’ Association (NOAA) was that property authority, I assume to illicit a negative response from an association with a large minority membership. Here is the response I received today:

Good Afternoon Capt,

Recently, I received an email from a member of my organization National Naval Officers' Association (NNOA) with a subject heading titled "PLEASE READ." In the email was a link to your site, specifically to the KKK reference. Upon reading the reference within the context, I saw no need for alarm--neither as a Marine Officer or as a African American (in that order.) Furthermore, I do believe that upon reasonable inspection of the content, one will see there is nothing to be offended about unless the mere mention of the words KKK is liable to offend. In which case, one should probably readjust their sensitivity levels--but that is just my opinion.

However, as officers, we should still be mindful of those things that upset our Marines. That is not to say that you should change the content of your site, rather, I do believe the manner in which you presented your case could have been less adversarial and perhaps a bit more--should I say--sensitive. Apparently someone thought it important enough to bring to the attention of an organization that has a large minority population. From my vantage point, there is nothing offensive to report; moreover, you did say the more outrageous the pneumonic device the easier it would be to recall. That being the intent, I believe you have succeeded to that end--but at what cost?

I welcome your thoughts on my comments. Like you, I believe in opening up the forum for discussion. For I believe that dialogue is the most effective weapon against ignorance and its twin brother prejudice.

Semper Fi

Here was my response:

Capt (),

Thank you for your comments. As a person who does quite a bit of writing, I'm always impressed with eloquent writing and you obviously have a gift for the written word. I'm sorry you even had to waste your time with this matter. Judging by your email, I think we both agree, as most rational people would, that the reference does not condone the beliefs of the KKK so I will limit my discussion to the handling of the email.

I don't know if you saw the entire correspondence starting with the Gunnery Sergeant's initial email. Considering the tone of that email, I felt like I showed great restraint in my response considering he even questioned my existence as a Marine. I responded to him as I would any Marine who showed such contempt, in person or in writing. We both know that policing our own ranks is of paramount importance and I was not going dampen my approach in fear of reprisal or sensitivity concerns, especially considering the content. I reacted as I would expect any Marine would and as I would expect to be treated if the roles were reversed. His next email further showcased his disrespect, surprisingly from a Gunnery Sergeant, by indicating he did not care what rank I was and threatening to contact his legal department.

I did not respond to that email because I thought the whole thing was utterly ridiculous and that he really needed to, as you put it, adjust his sensitivity levels. If a Gunnery Sergeant is this sensitive and cannot see the folly of his ax grinding, I really don't think backing off in response and putting on velvet gloves would have helped the situation. That's my opinion and I stand by my response. Maybe others would have handled the situation differently but I wonder if a lance corporal would have shown the Gunnery Sergeant the same level of interaction, how he would have responded. When I was enlisted, the Gunnys I knew would have lunched on my backside.

Again, I appreciate you following up on this matter. If you need the full transcript of the correspondence, please let me know.

Jason D. Grose
United States Marine Corps

Got an opinion either way? Email me.

Free Advice for Today:
“Hold yourself to the same high standards that you require of others.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 1997

Sunday, August 10, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“The distance is nothing; it is only the first step that is difficult. 
- Mme Du Deffand (1697 – 1780)

You learn a lot about yourself during a 16 mile training run.

First, you learn that you shouldn’t sleep in and wait until it reaches the 80s before you begin. Yes, this you learn very quickly.

You also learn that staying up watching Saturday Night Live while eating two oversized Blo-Pop suckers and ¾ of a bag of mini-Atomic Fireballs the night before is not a recipe for a great run the next day.

Despite these missteps, I had a pretty good run considering the longest training run I had up to today for this race was 10 miles (miserable, bastard ones, at that.)

I ran on the Monterey path that goes by the ocean, by NPS, Fisherman’s Wharf, Cannery Row, the aquarium, and out to Lover’s Point (where I would have loved the puke my guts out). To my surprise, I felt pretty good despite the heat and of course I had to put up a good show for the tourist. With a Marine tattoo on my arm, it wouldn’t do to flail around like a non-hacker. That could wait until I got home.

The last few miles of any run, no matter what, is a bona fide bitch. This particular route has the distinction of being a long uphill the last mile and I was starting to hate life halfway up. Good thing there was someone watering their yard who likely wondered what the idiot was doing who was standing in the direct spray of the water. That brought me home in a whopping 2 hours and 43 minutes.

I still had to walk up Normandy (about ¼ mile of steep incline) and by the time I got there, I could have been mistaken for drunk. In other words, I was not in complete control of my muscular movements but made it home for my post-run ritual.

Here is what I need as I hit the door: 2 Advil and 1600 mm of motrin, chased by an ice cold Gatorade. Next, I fill up the tub with cold water and poor the contents of the icemaker bucket in. I strip down to my underwear and slowly lower myself in (resulting in a quite humorous display of breathing) and then soak for 15 minutes as I drink the second Gatorade. Afterwards, I take a shower, put some clean, comfortable clothes on, and receive a leg massage from the angel who is my wife. Following this little ritual, I eat lunch and usually take a nap but today I inserted a movie between lunch and nap.

I watched Daredevil and much to my surprise, I loved it. I never cared much for Ben Affleck or Jennifer Garner but I really enjoyed this movie. Yeah, some of the animation showed through and yeah, most of it was not very realistic but it had great characters (Bullseye was deliciously evil) and was good for a good old fashioned comic book hero flick.

Last night, I mentioned to my wife that Jennifer Garner looked like a man. I had seen her on the back of the movie sleeve and it was not a very flattering picture. My wife was surprised when I said this and said that she thought Jennifer Garner was beautiful.

When she showed up for the first time in the movie, I ate my words whole. Granted, the scene was meant for the audience to see her as a beautiful woman and say “Um…WOW!” and my reaction was “Um… holy freakin’ WOW!!!” Of course in the presence of my wife, it came out “OK, maybe she doesn’t look like a man.”

So to Ms. Garner, I sincerely apologize for my earlier comment. You do not look like a man. You look, well, you look … like… you look like… you’re purdy.

Free Advice for Today:
“When hiring, give special consideration to a man who is an Eagle Scout and a woman who has received the Girl Scout Gold Award.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 1997

Saturday, August 9, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“The first fifty miles you run with your legs. The last fifty you run with your mind. 
- Dean Karnazes on 100 mile runs

It was an early wake up call to take the Sbragias to the airport.

In order to sabotage Chad’s humming-bird-like metabolism, I decided to show up to his temporary home with a box of Krispy Kremes. OK, maybe I had an ulterior motive but let’s not stray from the subject.

I hit the Albertson’s at 0630 and was the first customer in. For my efforts, I was awarded with a virgin expanse of untouched Krispy Kremes that made me tear up for just a second. I think I heard trumpets in the background.

Did you know they have these new ones (at least for me) that have pure whipped crème centers? It is decadence wrapped in nastiness, smothered in indulgence. Each one costs about 5 miles.

When we got to the Sbragias’ temporary quarters, they were just finishing up their massive packing endeavor (they are going to China for a year). We were there to carry their bags to the airport since their little rental car would not hold the 17 tons of baggage they owned. Poor Lisa had been up until 0300 and was stressed/emotional to the max. Chad, like always, was taking things in stride.

I really suck bad at goodbyes. I know most people say that but I have an extra bit of anti-talent for bidding farewell to friends. I gave the three boys hugs and a firm handshake (they rated a hug whether they wanted on or not, seeing how I had coached two of them in one sport or another). Lisa was easy, a hug to the weeping woman. But when it came to Chad, a firm handshake was the order of the day, after all, we are both Marine Officers and it would be unbecoming of us to…hug!!! But where I really blew it was what to say. Chad, being the pro that he is, said that he valued our friendship and told me that I was an incredible person. In response, I summoned up all of my literary genius and offered up a brilliant “Yeah…” in response. I’m such a dunce.

That’s all I could do, other than the stereotypical “Have a safe trip” and “Email when you get a chance.” How dumb is that? As though you have to say those things and the real topics you wanted to convey blow away like a piece of paper. I simply blew it at game time. Big time.

The kids were OK which was surprising especially for Alex since his best friend in the world, ever, just got on a plane for China. We all went back and Carrie and I took a nap (yes, it may seem ridiculous that 0600 is early for us on a Saturday but I think it was more getting over the emotion, too). When we arose, the kids wanted to go to the beach. I think they sensed it was a good time to strike because with us being so aware of their emotions, they knew we would grant just about any request.

So off to the beach we went. I hate the beach. The wind, the sand, the loud strangers. This is one area I will openly admit that I am the crotchety old man but the kids love it so much, I drag my grumpy ass out there and wait it out.

Even though I had just napped for a few hours after a full night’s sleep, I fell asleep out of sheer boredom. I wasn’t about to go out in the Arctic water (my sacrifice for the spawn only goes so far) and the wind prevented me from reading. It’s possible but tends to piss me off.

It wasn’t until about an hour ago that my wife noticed that I had a peculiar sunburn. I had fallen asleep on my side with my baseball hat covering part of my face, blocking the sun So halfway down my cheek and on the side of my neck, I got lobstered. From a distance, it looks like Fred Flintstone’s beard line, except beet red. Lovely.

The beach put me in a sour mood (strange statement, I know) and I worked on my webpage for the rest of the day. I’m in a bad mood, sunburned on my head in a crazy pattern, and still feeling a little under the weather since last week.

But the good things are: it’s Saturday, I have no homework, the kids had fun, I’m in Monterey on the cusp of getting my master’s degree, and I’m not on a plane going to China for a year. Hey look, lemonade!

Free Advice for Today:
“Remember that life's most treasured moments often come unannounced.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 1997

Friday, August 8, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“The first fifty miles you run with your legs. The last fifty you run with your mind. 
- Dean Karnazes on 100 mile runs

Today I saw a fogbow.

So far, every person I stated that to looked at me like I had an arm growing out of my head. What is a fogbow, you ask (why not, they did)? I was running this morning back from my 6 mile run when I came into a clearing where the heavy fog had let up just a bit. As I focused on the road ahead, I made out a shaft of white fog a little denser than the rest and as I followed it skyward, lo and behold I saw a fully formed fogbow. At least that’s what I assume you call it. It was in a perfect rainbow arch but totally made of fog and white. I wondered if this was a common occurrence but I personally had never even heard of something like this.

The initial sight I saw was one end of it and it looked like it ended right in the middle of the road ahead but like most visual phenomenon, the closer I got, the further it got away. I felt silly even having to think about if I would actually see it when I came upon it and decided my physics was depressingly rusty. I even thought about if the pot-o-gold thing would still apply since it was, you know, a fogbow. All I saw was dog crap on the road so maybe different rules apply.

The other event for the day was dinner at a nice Mexican restaurant (the restaurant was nice, not a nice Mexican who owned the restaurant. Maybe he was but…never mind.)

My family was saying goodbye to our best friends here in Monterey because tomorrow they fly to China. Their son and mine are best friends and at 11 years old, that means a lot. We had a great dinner (a large Coors Light and a strawberry margarita later, of course it was great!), the kind where you just enjoy the company of the people you’re with. Chad is a Major in the Marine Corps and we look at life in and out of the Marine Corps pretty much the same way, not to mention having so much in common (formerly enlisted, married with a couple of kids, etc.) It’s the worst part of being in the military because you have to say goodbye so often. In fact, it sucks.

So when we wave goodbye to them tomorrow, they will represent the last really close friends we have here and once again, we will be the last man standing which signifies that it’s time for us to go soon, too.

Chad and I swung by the PX to pick up something and as we walked by some young kids in the parking lot, we overheard one of them state “Yeah, I’m about to go out and get F$%$% up.”

Public language aside, why would you PLAN on going out and getting f’ed up? That’s not just an old man talking here; even as a kid I never PLANNED on going out and getting f’ed up. That’s not to say I didn’t, but just that I never PLANNED on it.

First of all, no one likes the filthy drunk idiot. Your too loud, obnoxious, slurring all your words, and have random wet marks all over your clothes. Your skin is all greasy, your eyes are all red and half mast. I mean, is this what you want to accomplish? Draws the chicks like magic.

Plus, it’s really expensive. You get all drunk and buy drinks willy-nilly until your pulling wadded up dollar bills (“Kewl, a five. Dude! I’m totally getting’ another brew!”) and counting change until it falls out of your hand and all over the sticky bar floor. Your paying the price of a six-pack for one beer which usually gets spilled, warm, or both before you actually finish it.

You end up puking and depending on the kindness of strangers to get your drunk ass home and then in the morning, you wake up nasty, hung-over, broke, unaware of most of what you said the night before, and embarrassed at the things you do remember. You’re useless all day and sit in front of the TV trying not to hurl up the Cheetos you somehow managed to keep down while wondering where your watch went until you crap it out.

Yeah, dude, you go get f’ed up. Sounds like a great time.

Free Advice for Today:
“Leave everything a little better than you found it.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 1997

Thursday, August 7, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“I have one complaint about running. Why do races always have to start at 7 A.M.? 
- Asics ad

Entered lab at about 1000.

Left lab at 1030 for meeting.

Returned to lab at 1100.

Left lab at 1900.

Nuclear war could have broken out and I wouldn’t be the wiser, except that my internet connection probably would have been interrupted. Yes, I spent the day in cyberspace. Actually I spent a long time setting up and designing another website that is part of a directed study so I can claim most of it was school related. That Dreamweaver vortex can be mighty strong.

Totally wussed on the early wake up call to run so now I’m behind. Tomorrow, I have to atone for my shortcomings and hit the road for the 6 mile make-up run the day before my 16 mile monster on Saturday. Must…get…motivated….ooh, Predator is on. Cool!

As I was daydreaming today, walking around the NPS campus, it occurred to me why things are weird there. First, I realized there is no graffiti anywhere, even in the bathrooms. I thought about this for a moment and wondered why and the obvious answer was that the entire base is almost completely populated by military officers. But that didn’t sit right because it would be my guess that graffiti is at least to some degree human nature and no population is totally devoid of it. I mean we still lock our cars and computers still get swiped (happened in my lab with a brand new system). So why the hiatus on graffiti?

Dress code: we all most wear slacks and collared shirts. Where else would you see this on a campus? I tell ya, it’s like the Stepford Wives or something. Spooky to say the least.

Laptop computers all around. This may be the norm these days (I haven’t been to a civilian campus lately) but I have to figure that at least some of the poor college students barely scraping by aren’t sporting new Dells. Is this because officers get paid so much we got money spilling out of our asses? Hardly. I think it’s because we either go into debt (we do tend to have good credit) to get one or somehow get involved in a project or thesis that provides one. That’s the only reason I have one as a Captain with a wife and two kids living on the Monterey economy. Otherwise, I’d be living in the common lab like many others.

Going to school on a landmark: the old Del Monte hotel is still in operation on the campus so we get a lot of tourists. Plus, the campus empties out after about 1500. I guess this isn’t much different than a campus since many universities are visited by tourists but we have no dorms so I think the place is emptier than most college campuses in the afternoon.

We do have some barracks for the Navy enlisted permanent personal but we don’t see them much. They are like gnomes because you see them scampering about every once in awhile but most of the time, they try to pretend they don’t know you are an officer and avoid the salute and greeting they know they are supposed to render. Yeah, I have a book back with a huge Eagle, Globe, and Anchor on it, I’m wearing slacks and a collared shirt, and I’m walking smack dab in the middle of the Naval Post Graduate School quad area. What are the chances I’m an Officer?

This is why when I see them, and we come close enough that military courtesy dictates a greeting, I belt out a great big: “GOOD MORNING, SAILOR! HOW ARE YOU DOING THIS FINE MARINE CORPS DAY?” to anyone playing the “suddenly I found something interesting on my shoes” game. The startled looks are reward enough.

In the middle of the quad is the Thai Shack. As far as I can tell, this little hut has been conducting business in the middle of campus since dinosaurs were ordering the #5 without curry. I’m sure that the business has enjoyed many names over the years but of course, the students have their own offerings; "The Love Shack" being the latest I’ve enjoyed. I tend to say that I’m “Thaiing one on.”

OK, that’s all I got for a slow day.

Free Advice for Today:
“Learn the rules. Then break some.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 1997

Wednesday, August 6, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot… and missed. I’VE FAILED over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I SUCCEED. 
- Michael Jordan in a Nike poster

Once again, I made it through another milestone.

Today I gave my last brief in my last class of my graduate degree. And once again I made the audience think I knew more about the subject than I probably do. Ahhh, the art of the presentation.

This was my thoughts until right before the professor opened his mouth. Then it was fast-thinking 101. I’ll have to admit I was a little nervous because this particular professor self-admittedly uses the Socrates method of teaching which, for those that are not aware of this, is a very confrontational approach (watch reruns of any law school shows like The Paper Chase, Fame, etc). In other words, he doesn’t hesitate to pull out your punk card and slap you around with it, especially if you are caught bovine-excrementing your way through a topic.

After other briefs, I’ve seen him really put people on the spot and ask questions that even leaves the presenters speechless, much less the audience (recently roused from their slumber).

I had one teacher in my undergraduate work than did this to the extreme and it was the only college class I dropped. He was the head of the local ACLU and a member of numerous other controversial affiliations. He changed the room on the first day and when the people who didn’t get the word until they showed up to the original classroom only to read the change and appear late to the new classroom, he chewed them out publicly (I was not among them). That was just an introduction to his very acidic and confrontational teaching style. Not a class a Sergeant of Marines should take because I’d end up calling my wife for bail money after being charged with beating a professor with a desk.

Anyway, today no desk beatings were necessary. He did throw a few zingers but my massive 11th hour research prepared me well and I think I gave a better showing than most of the presenters I’ve seen. It ended up being a discussion rather than a “stump the chump” marathon like usual.

It’s good to be done with that but when I got home, I felt sick. Don’t know why, just nauseous. For a couple of days now, I’ve felt like I’ve been running on a quarter tank. Sucks but I’d rather be sick in Monterey than anywhere else, I guess.

Watching VH1’s countdown to the 200 American icons, I was disgusted that Oprah came it first. Come on! You mean to tell me that she beat out Superman (#2) and Elvis (#3)? There are a lot of mutton-chopped, sequine-clad nutrolls that beg to differ, ma’am, thank ya very much. I guess when you are a billionaire with half the American population (who happen to own ovaries) hanging on your every word, you get top billing.

Free Advice for Today:
“Root for your team to win, not for the other team to lose.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 1997

Tuesday, August 5, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“My country did not send me 5000 miles to start the race --- they sent me 5000 miles to finish the race. 
- John Stephen Akhwari of Tanzania, who finished last – bloodied and bandaged- in the 1968 Olympics Marathon in Mexico City

Let me update you on some loose ends.

I got an email back from the Marine who questioned my Marine Corps existence yesterday and he informed me he is a Gunny and that he’s having his legal shop check out my reference to the KKK. For the rest of the day, I was balled up in the fetal position under my desk hoping that I would be allowed to hide my obvious affiliation with many of the major hate groups, as the world knows from my “Enemy of the State” webpage.

I wonder how long they will laugh at him if he really does approach his legal eagles with this. On the other hand, I have to wonder if this behavior is frequent and if so, what similar molehills his Marines have seen made into mountains. Whatever the situation, let’s just say he’s not a fan of the site. It’s always peculiar to me how a few people can take away my message with such radically differing opinions. Goes to prove that you can’t please all the people all the time but you sure can piss them all off at once.

Concerning my BLOG entry that challenged my extended family, my wife finally found it. She’s reading it more often now (hi Honey). Other than her, my beautiful cousin Jennifer in NY gave the only response so I guess the experiment is over by now. Yet the National Enquirer sells a billion copies a week. Maybe I should start lying.

My counter hit about 140 today so I’m psyched about that. Until now, I really had no idea how many people visit the page but I maintain it as though it’s sells like the NY Times. I get emails every once in awhile telling me how a person has followed my page for a long time (sometimes years) which shocks me because it’s usually the first time I’ve heard from them. But I sure do appreciate the feedback from these people.

Email: I’m pitifully behind so please be patient.
Past BLOGs: same, they’re on the list

Why the feet-dragging? I have two words for you: storage technology. No, I’m not running out of room, I have a presentation on it tomorrow and I’ve been stressing about the Power Point presentation since I got back from Seattle. Today, I spent the majority of my time figuring out what I should know about it and designing a PPT presentation that sounds like I know what I’m doing. Here are some random thoughts about it:

  • The last quarter of an IT graduate degree seems a little late to realize you don’t know how to make a bulleted list appear on a Power Point Presentation.
  • Designing a simple graphic in Power Point and mapping the human genome have a lot in common in the areas of difficulty and translation of mental to visual reality.
  • Technical explanations are a lot more simple bouncing around in my head than when they must come out of my mouth.
  • Spending a day explaining RAID, SAN, NAS, InfiniBand, SCSI, ATA, and FDDI is akin to self-dentistry.
  • Google has become my main source of all information in all aspects in my life. I’m starting to think it links directly to God. It told me so.

After my marathon design session, I had to exit out of the Matrix and welcome my thesis partner, former presidential pilot, and fellow presenter for tomorrow’s presentation to dinner. His wife and kids are already gone to his next duty station so he’s living la vida bachelor. I invited him over to have some of my wife’s famous gut-producing lasagna and to look over my attempt at a coherent overview of storage technology. We had a great dinner and afterwards went over the brief before he had to get back to his barracks while the lasagna had yet to completely migrate to his eyelids.

So with the kids in bed, I’m sitting here on my laptop trying to deflate as my wife makes plane reservations for our house hunting trip to Virginia later this month. In other words, the airline industry is not satisfied with piercing through my back pocket to get to my wallet, they surge forth deeper like I’m doing life with a fat guy named Cyrus. Just yesterday the tickets were $80 cheaper each. Today, I’m grabbing my ankles.

“I complained about having no shoes until I met a man with no feet.”

So I guess I’m thankful for having the credit rating that allows me to go into debtor’s prison. And to the guy with no ankles, you’re not missing a fun time.

Free Advice for Today:
“Talk slow but think quick.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 1997

Monday, August 4, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“The shortest distance between two points isn’t the point. 
- New Balance ad

Craziness from all sides.

I don’t know what the deal is lately but I’m getting more contentious email about my site in the last week than I have in a decade. Maybe it’s a good sign because more people with different views are reading it but my thin skin is tired of being punctured. Yeah, I said it!!!

As I wrote a few days ago, a recently-contacted ex-girlfriend took umbrage at me posting her name and pic on my site. Hurt my feelings a bit but fair enough and easily rectified. But today I got someone who even questioned if I was a real Marine because I referenced the Klu Klux Klan in an example (see here and you be the judge). Here is the exchange (although I’ll probably get complaints about using his correspondence without asking but I’m leaving out the name so save the bits and don’t bother me about it):

Dear Jason,

I'm not sure how long you have had your website posted, but I just did not like your example of the Marine Corps Leadership Principles. Out of all acronyms that could have been thought of, you choose something about the "Klu Klux Klan." This shows that you are not a Marine or former Marines, because we as active duty Marines sees only one color and that's bloody red of our enemies. We had a whole lot of causalities from 1/2 & 2/8 in last few months. This is not what we fight for. This is over the terminology of borderline, this toward racism and we (Marines) do not show or teach our Marines anything close to this.

My response:

Sorry to burst your bubble but yes, I am a Captain of Marines and before that a Sergeant of Marines. And on the off chance that I my website is legitimate, I suggest you err on the side of military courtesy when contacting me. If you would identify your proper rank like you are supposed to in any correspondence, I would address you using the correct protocol just as I expect you to do the same.

You missed the whole point of the reference. Just because I use the KKK as a memory aid does not mean that I condone its actions. That assumption is utterly ridiculous. The sentence was “The KKK seems to be trained” which is simply a statement, not a value judgment, no different that mentioning Al-Quada or Taliban. I chose it specifically because of the Marine Corps stance that their beliefs run so radically counter to what we believe in that it would be memorable. To say that it could be interpreted as justifying their stance on racial beliefs is a stretch and with that logic, we could never even mention any hate, terrorist, or bigoted organizations, even in the most innocuous references.

I suggest you get your facts straight and analyze your opinions prior to coming at me with guns blazing. I always welcome debate over opinion but do not tolerate breaches of protocol nor uninformed hyper-sensitivity wrapped in disrespect.

And to answer your question, the website has been online for a decade.

Jason D. Grose
United States Marine Corps

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

If You Steal My Sunshine

The very next email was from a Marine Lieutenant Colonel who loved the site so that lifted my spirits. I’m so easy, either way.

My kids’ first day of school was today and after intense interrogation, I’ve discovered all of my son’s teachers are “fine.” This was the extent of his intel debrief. My daughter informed me her day was “good” so as you can tell, I’m fully saturated with the lives of my kids’ scholastic environment.

To my surprise, I stumbled across Monday Night Football tonight. Where in the Hell have I been? I'm not quite sure but I can tell you where in the Hell I ended up: listening to John Madden ramble on like the drunk idiot at the end the bar. Here we go with another year of Muting Monday Night. It's not like I hate the guy. OK, I do but only because he's annoying, verbose, master of the obvious, tangential, prone to irrelevant pontification, and armed with a light pen. Other than that, he's my hero.

Tonight I also watched the Slam Ball tryouts. For those that don’t know, this is a combination of hockey, basketball, and football played on trampolines. I actually got into the bios of the rookies but found it rather disturbing when they showed a guy almost completely bust his foot off at the ankle. Simply horrendous. He was OK but I wish I could say the same about myself.

Notice I put a simple counter at the bottom of my site. It’s a simple Perl script I lifted off the discussion board of my webspace provider and after a little tweaking, worked like a charm. I’ll claim about 4 of the hits myself but I was surprised that it left about 40 hits just today. I resisted the temptation (and advice) to jack up the counter to 50 just to start out. Why would I care to fool visitor’s into thinking the site has more visitors than I really do? Like the rest of the site, what you see is what you get.

OK, gotta go and get some sleep before my early run tomorrow which should go a little faster than today’s 6 miler when my mp3 player batteries petered out and the spares didn’t work. I had to listen to my heavy footfalls and heavier breathing which was not a great substitute for The Wiseguys or Dirty Vegas.


Free Advice for Today:
“Don't let weeds grow around your dreams.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 1997

Sunday, August 3, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“When I run, truly run … it is all there. My body does what it does best. The mind like a kaleidoscope constantly rearranges the things it has stored into new and exciting patterns. And my soul utterly loses itself in the present. 
- Dr. George Sheehan

Lazy, lazy, lazy day spent mostly putting off the reading I’m supposed to do for a presentation on Wednesday. I really hate it when I procrastinate.

It’s one of those days that I don’t even really know what I did with my time. I mean I woke up and read Saturday and Sunday’s paper, drank some coffee, and ate some breakfast but after that, it’s kind of a blur until 4:00 PM when we had friends over.

Carrie made a Mexican dinner spread for the Sbragias who are moving to China next Saturday. They have been our good friends and their son, Zach, has unquestionably been Alex’s best friend ever. It was good to have all of them over, especially considering they’ve been going through the moving stress and needed time away from the hassles. So with a great dinner, a few beers, and the relaxation only achieved when the kids can run freely without fear of breaking stuff (everything that can be broken HAS been broken in this house and they know it), I was glad to offer them an evening spent among friends.

When they leave, we will once again be the Last of the Mohicans. It happens every time we come to the end of a duty station when everyone we met and made friends with ends up leaving before we do and then we are just waiting to leave. But this time, the kids are old enough to really start feeling the sting and it breaks my heart to see my boy dealing with the inevitable separation with a best friend. Combine that with the first day of middle school tomorrow and there is a lot of weight on those 11-year-old shoulders.

I talked to my 86-year-old grandma today and she sounded as spry as ever. She was my closest grandmother and still remains very special to me. She’s the only one that still gets away with calling a 34-year-old Marine Captain her “Silly Rabbit.” Even at her advanced age, her medical woes have been comparably few but that still does not stop our main topic of conversation from being the ailments of the family, the rundown of which I receive when I call her. Mom had her head operated on, Uncle Kent is getting spinal surgery, Aunt Barb is not feeling well these days, and so on. I guess telling her about my aches and pains resulting from my running could be considered bragging so I resist. How do you compete with borderline diabetes?

I read a little bit about Sadass Insane’s two daughters and how they were estranged from their brothers yet still mourned them. Estranged? From two stand-up dudes like Ousai and Quisai? Really? Oh, yeah, did I mention they killed the sisters’ husbands after luring them back to Iraq after they defected and shared a bunch of secrets? That had to be an awkward family reunion.

“You always drop dad’s name when you go out to disco, Ousai.”
“Yeah, well, you used to make me dress up in your dresses and have tea parties.”
“You killed my husband!”
“OK, you got me.”

Free Advice for Today:
“Hold your child's hand every chance you get. The time will come all too soon when he or she won't let you.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 1997

Saturday, August 2, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“When I get up in the morning, I think about shaving. Today, it was .002 seconds. 
- Michael Johnson in Power Bar ad

The planets were misaligned today.

I woke up later than I wanted to for my first long run after I discovered I was a month behind my training but was glad to get back on track. I thought a 10 mile run would be a piece of cake considering I had been running that distance often in the last month. Can you see where this is going?

Last night I reinstated Girl Night which is my monthly date with my daughter. We went to Gianni’s Pizza and had a nice dinner, just the two of us, while the local entertainment enthralled my daughter. Personally, I don’t find two elderly people playing the accordion and tambourine all that exciting but it amused the girl. She wanted to come home early in order to catch a new show on TV and I was fine with that because I didn’t feel like I was firing on all cylinders anyway.

I felt like doing nothing but veging on the couch and even considered hitting the rack at 8:00 PM. This feeling seemed to carry over to the morning because I felt sluggish even getting out of bed.

My next mistake was checking email before my run. I seemed to have offended a friend of mine by posting her name and picture on my webpage so I quickly rectified the oversight but the damage to my mood was done. Now I REALLY didn’t feel like running but that was not an option. Come October 26th, I’ll be stepping across the starting line of the Marine Corps Marathon and payment is already overdue.

Sometimes I hit the road feeling like crap but I pull out of the mood to enjoy a great run. This was not one of those times. Because it was later than I normally run, it was also warmer and the heat quickly took its toll. I couldn’t get my mind away from the bruised feelings I had about the email with the cold, business-like tone asking me to fix my webpage. Logically, I understood her desire for privacy and accepted that it was my fault for posting names and a picture without permission but with the history I share with this particular person, her email cut a little close to the bone. I know it shouldn’t bother me but for some reason, it did.

So with my head in a spin, the heat kicking up, and my mysteriously depleted energy stores low, I started hating life on the run at about the halfway mark. I ran into some friends at about mile 3 and had a nice conversation (something I thought I was incapable of considering my mood) which gave me an excuse to stop for awhile. If you know anything about long-distance running, you know that once you stop, it is easier to stop again.

The way back was miserable and included a lot of walking. I never pulled out of my mental tempest and the heat started sucking what little life I had in my run. Like a rolling snowball, it got worse and when I lumbered into my house, my wife asked how my run went. Where do I start?

I didn’t do much for the rest of the day except try to chalk it up to a bad run. It happens. My mental tantrum about the email will go away and I learned a valuable lesson (again) about waking up early to run, before the heat becomes a factor.

And I want to run the Badwater race. HA!

P.S. Happy 57th birthday, Dad.

Free Advice for Today:
“Every once in a while, let your kids play in the rain.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 1997

Friday, August 1, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“I thought about quitting a bunch of times, but I really need the free T-shirts. 
- Asics ad about running

Today was my son’s junior high school orientation where all the parents bring their 6th graders and get a taste of what their evil little spawn, er, I mean children will be exposed to for the next year. And exposed we were.

I now remember why I couldn’t wait to get out of junior high: the boredom. I’ll give the school credit; they really tried to put together an orientation program which I appreciate but it was like being 12-years-old all over again. We were in the cafeteria and sat at the lunch desks. I could almost feel a pimple forming as I sat there and listened to the teachers who, with the assistance of an adult perspective, I could tell were winging it. This was good because I could get a sense of the personalities that my kid would be exposed to.

There were the usual cast of characters: the slow talking, slightly condescending disciplinarian. There was the new, perky teacher who had not been jaded yet by the onslaught of too many years in the presence of pre-teens. Then there was the PE teacher. Now, I’m don’t mean to stereotype but if there was a stereotype (and there is) of a PE teacher, this woman fit perfectly. She reminded me of the one on Porky’s and I really questioned the ability of someone who looked, we’ll say, a bit out of shape to teach my child about physical education. But then again, look at the sidelines of most professional sports teams and you’ll find plenty of girth. I guess it comes down to my own beliefs and how self-conscience I would feel being a physical education teacher and looking less than the part. Hell, maybe she does have issues and I’m being an ass. It has been known to happen from time to time.

The orientation ended with a tour by one of the 8th grade cheerleaders. It hit me that my son was now going to be exposed to girls who were getting extremely near womanhood, at least physically. Seeing him standing next to this gangly woman-child, I had to smirk because she was a full foot taller than my tall son. The Zits cartoons were coming to life before my very eyes. It also amazed me that I was once so attracted to cheerleaders that age when I was bumping around junior high. They seemed so much more mature then but I know it’s me who has become long in the tooth. Damn this age thing!

My son is worried and it both amuses me and worries me. It amuses me because he is an advanced student who picks up on things quickly and shows a basic appreciation for learning. Nevertheless, he is worried that he was stumble at this new level, mostly centering around doing something inadvertent and then having to pay for it. For example, he’s terrified that he won’t make it to his next class in the allotted 5 minutes or that he won’t have time to copy down the required homework assignments. Note that he WANTS to get to class on time and WANTS to get his homework assignment copied so he can accomplish the task. Way to go, Boy!!!

The worry part is because while this is amusing, it’s so much like me that it’s scary. I was the same way and I remember how much stress I put on myself (and still do) when it comes to scholastics. I guess I’ll just keep trying to keep him calm while cultivating the drive. The heart is more important in academics. The mind will follow eventually.

My daughter, on the other hand, is handling her 4th grade ascension with grace. We found out that she will have the same teacher Alex had in 4th grade which is good for a couple of reasons. First, we liked the teacher and know she is a good match for Stephanie. Second, Alex was a great student and charmed her which can’t hurt the upcoming sibling. I know she’ll take to Stephanie quickly but even without this advantage, Steph would have established herself at the top of the class regardless.

I am a lucky man.

Free Advice for Today:
“Deadlines are imporatnt. Meet them.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 1997

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