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Jason Grose's BLOG

October 2003

 

 

 


What's a blog, you ask? It stands for "weblog" and it's basically an online journal of daily thought. We'll see how long I can keep this up (as though I don't have enough to do!)

If you must have a title, I'll go with: The daily thoughts/rants of a Marine Officer, father, scholar, husband, marathon runner, Flash cartoonist, computer nerd.


Friday, October 31, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“EXPERIENCE ENABLES YOU TO RECOGNIZE A MISTAKE WHEN YOU MAKE IT AGAIN.'” 
- Unknown

All Hollow’s Eve. What a difference a year makes. Last year, I was having a party with all of my friends, dressed up like a 100-year-old man, and had a great time. This year, I FELT like a 100 year old man, was crashing hard because of my diet, and just wanted the event to pass. I didn’t want to see candy, I didn’t want kids coming to my house, and I didn’t want to walk my kids around. Yes, I was a Putz for Halloween.

It started by my inability to find pumpkins this year. It took us three nights to actually find somewhere that had them and then when we got home, the kids picked out the most intricate pattern imaginable. We get those cutouts every year and make some pretty cool carvings. Well, the kids wanted to do it themselves which was a good thing because I was in no mood to help much. Unfortunately this resulted in them carving some pretty sorry looking pumpkins and I was called in to save the day. I saved nothing.

Alex’s "Face of Death" looked like just that but not for the right reasons. Steph’s Halloween cat looked like the feared Halloween gopher. It was not a good pumpkin carving year.

We didn’t have many kids visit (was it the aura I was giving off?) and had a lot of candy left over, none of which I could touch. Curses!!!

Best Costume I saw: lady bug toddler.
Worst: teenager by a teenager. I really shouldn’t have given them that candy.

Free Advice for Today:
Drink low fat milk.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2002

BLOG entry for this day from 1997


Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“AN ACTION PASSED IS AN ACTION COMPLETED.'” 
- Unknown

Bureaucracy. Virginia has taken this concept to insane proportions.

Not only do I have to buy the car, maintain it, put gas in it, license it, and pay insurance on it, but now that I got to Virginia, that just ain’t enough now, is it? Now the county wants a piece of the action by charging me county fees. How extortionistic of them. But wait, there’s more. To make the cops happy, you must also get a yearly inspection that, to me, seems like a good way to keep the local grease monkeys in business. If you don’t have one, you get pulled over and fined. Anything else? I’m afraid to ask. Yes, dog license, now that you mention it. I took a crap the other day, do you want to tax me for that, too?

We took Truckasaurus in for the inspection and dropped her off. The helpful mechanic explained all the stickers, decals, paperwork, broomstick from the Wicked Witch, etc. that we needed so we left the truck there to take care of some of these happy little errands. He would call on the cell when the truck was ready.

Ring –ring.

“Hello?”

“Yeah, this is Chuck. You need a front indicator light replaced but we have to take the grill off to get to it. It’ll cost about $50. You could do it yourself but didn’t know if it was worth the trouble for you. You’d have to bring the truck back for a reinspection.”

Short hairs. They had me by the shorthairs.

“Go ahead you bloodsucking son-of-….”

I mean what I really said was

“OK, go ahead”

as I felt the warm hand grab my shoulder.

Getting to the courthouse for our sticker, we waited in a line until called to the front. Explaining that we were new in the area and needed to get a county sticker, I could almost feel the white fur and baby seal eyes meld over my face.

After typing in all my information, filling out paperwork, and getting much of it stamped seemingly randomly, I was told to go to the another window and give them the paperwork. I really wanted to ask the reasoning behind sending me 30 feet away but resisted. When I got there, they did more typing, more stamping, and more paperwork (apparently of the same stuff). Then she hands me the even bigger stack of paperwork and tells me to go back to the first window to get my sticker.

Wait a minute! … Never mind. Go with the lunacy, Grose, you’re almost home.

As promised, I got to the other window (and got a look like the woman had never laid eyes on me despite our interaction minutes prior) and retrieved my sticker. I left confused like I had just been spit out the end of a paperwork tornado but was happy I didn’t have to pay a red cent. Military exemption is a good thing.

We picked up Truckasaurus and other than a sticker and $65 bill, nothing had changed (except the light I guess but I had never noticed as had no one else). Next stop, the Bureaucratic Mecca of them all: the DMV.

To my amazement, it was not busy. I’m used to approximately the population of Florida to be at the DMV but the sparse turnout meant that I’d get through there quicker. (I’ll pause until you stop laughing).

We took a number. We waited. We waited. My children grew up and had children of their own. The sun supernova’ed, swallowing the Earth in an angry lashing.

When we finally got called, we paid our $99 for two years and I realized I had become numb to paying people for things I really don’t like to do.

“Yeah, here’s $100. Thanks. You too? OK, here’s $75. You want $50? Sure, here ya go…take $150, I don’t need it, I’m on a military salary.”

To get away from all this meaningless payout, we decided to go to Costco (I’ll pause AGAIN until you stop laughing). You see, at least when I shell out a couple a hundred dead presidents, I’ll get to take something tangible home with me. Here, the Costco is connected to a mall so we did the obligatory walk through there, stopping at the Halloween store to get my son a scythe. Not for his costume, he’s just a weird kid. Just joking, he’s Death this year. I’m so proud. Maybe next year he can be Gluttony.

Free Advice for Today:
Be insatiably curious. Ask "why" a lot.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2002

BLOG entry for this day from 1997


Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“BEWARE THE LEADER WHO SAYS 'IF YOU LOOK GOOD, I LOOK GOOD; BUT IF YOU LOOK BAD...YOU LOOK BAD.'” 
- Unknown

This morning, I finally crossed over to the world of fast internet. I hooked it up and as expected, it didn’t work. But after a quick help call and being put on hold foverer, I figured out that my cable modem was hooked into a USB port that did not work. I should have known when I didn’t get a “New Hardware Detected” wizard pop up. While I was on hold, I figured this out and set it up. Voila, high speed.

Now this is more like it. The speed is just dizzying. I will never go back to dial up. Never! You hear me? NEVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I wanted to just stay online forever but there were more pressing matters to take care of. We had to go to the commissary and spend a small fortune.

Before we did this, I took care of a little business that was long overdue: I got a haircut. It was quite embarrassing when I had to stipulate a Marine Corps cut to the barber. Yes ma’am, I assure you, I am a Marine.

I told my wife when we went into the commissary that I was in no hurry and for her to take as long as she needed. This was a statement I deeply regretted. By the end of the trip which lasted approximately 38 eons, we had a mountain of stuff overflowing our basket and the $350 price tag was a shot to the groin. The kicker was that I couldn’t eat many of the delicious offerings due to my diet so it was an exercise in teasing. The chip aisle was particularly painful.

Back home, we got the groceries in and I retired to, you guessed it, the computer to do all the things I had been waiting to do: email, webpage update, surfing, updating software, etc. I successfully and joyfully geeked out for the rest of the evening.

Did I mention I will never go back to dial up? NEVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Free Advice for Today:
Never hesitate to do what you know is right.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2002

BLOG entry for this day from 1997


Monday, October 27, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“NEVER BE AFRAID TO GIVE THE PEOPLE WHO DID ALL OF THE WORK SOME OF THE CREDIT.” 
- Unknown

Ok, marathon’s over. Now I can get on with life. Oops, forgot, lactic acid. Not only must I live with the humiliation of clocking an embarrassing run time, I must also suffer the consequences of running a race ill-prepared for the rigors. This is what I get for being nasty over leave.

To add to the misery, I started my annual pre-Ball crash diet to fit into the Blues routine. Ahhh, the joys of piper-paying.

Today was the kids’ first day of school. Last Friday we enrolled them and got a good tour of Alex’s school, which just started this year and is amazing. They teach Latin, for Godeus Sakicus!!! The facilities were almost as good as the ones at NPS including their auditorium which looked like King Hall, NPS’s main lecture hall where I graduated. Suffice it to say, the boy is getting the education he deserves and leaves California schools looking like the one room school house from Little House on the Prairie.

There is a grade school right across the street but for some strange zoning fluke, Steph will be going to another school. The weird thing is that we have to drive through the Chancellorville battlefield to get to it. That’s the way things are over here.

Her school is fairly new also and I was impressed. They really seem to know how to do education here.

Free Advice for Today:
Remember that a kind word goes a long way.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2002

BLOG entry for this day from 1997


Sunday, October 26, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“IF THERE IS NEVER ENOUGH TIME TO DO THE JOB RIGHT, WHY IS
THERE ALWAYS TIME TO DO IT OVER?”
 
- Unknown

There’s a bright side to everything, right? Here are the “bright side” highlights of the marathon:

  • I finished
  • I lived

That about rounds it out.

I set a P.W. (personal worst) and I knew I wasn't ready for the marathon. Everything was cool for the first ten miles, clocking a 9 minute pace, but then the cramps hit…and never went away. Add in the stomach problems, humidity, and heat and you got me stumbling over the finishing line at a miserable 5 hours and 29 minutes. Ouch. It sucks when you hit survival mode at mile 10.

I’ll write more about the race on my page but if there is one more positive thing I can say about the race it’s that I will be able to tell everyone that I improved an hour and a half in one year.

When I got home, I was understandably destroyed mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. If this gives you any idea of the rest of the night, I will wait to hook up my high speed internet until tomorrow.

Free Advice for Today:
Work for a company where the expectations of you are high.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2002

BLOG entry for this day from 1997


Saturday, October 25, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“YOU CAN BUY MUSCLE, BUT YOU HAVE TO EARN LOYALTY.” 
- Unknown

The big event for the day was getting the cable, but more importantly, the high speed internet. Between 2 and 4, they said. Two came, nothing. Three came, nothing. Four came and as the bit was sufficiently chewed, you guessed it: nothing. Carrie calls and the lady gave us this “Oh, it says here it was for NEXT Saturday.” WRONG ANSWER!!!!

I just about cried. Right on the cusp of me busting my high speed virginity, I am once again disked a miss. As I was berating Carrie who was trying to work it out with the lady on the phone, they settled on getting someone out here tomorrow. Great, I’ll be gone all day running the marathon but at least it will be here waiting for me when I return. The low point is that I’ll miss the last game of the World Series tonight. Adelphia, why do you do this to me?!!!!

Today I went to the marathon exhibition with Sir Phil. It was neat to see such a big event and to be part of it. Sir Phil picked me up and drove me there (over an hour away) an we had a chance to have a good talk along the way. He had some business to take care of which included buying specialty dog food at a store 45 minutes from his house talking to a British motor shop that specializes in the old car that is his hobby so he offered to take me to the marathon expo.

We got there and went through the normal rat race to get my packet, my shirt, my chip, and all the free goodies they give out. I learned my lesson after the Big Sur marathon that if you have a chance to buy specialty running gear, do so or it’ll be tough to find it. I took the opportunity and the congrats money from my grandmother and aunt and bought a running shirt (a tradition that defies common racing advice but has more to do with identifying which race it is when I get the pictures back), some running pants (not the sweats and not the tights, a hybrid that I’ve been looking for), and a case of Gu. The plain Gu is the best thing I’ve found that doesn’t make me sick but gives me a boost of energy. For $20 for 24 packets, it better send me to the moon!!!

I saw a lot of Marines. And I mean A LOT! It was good to see real Marines en masse again but all I could think was that these poor bastards were forced to give up their entire weekend for this. I was almost embarrassed to show my ID card to the one handing out the packages because I had not accomplished a haircut in a month. The thought also occurred to me that there is no way I would know any of these Marines because I’d been at NPS for two years. Most of them were junior enlisted so they probably weren’t even in the Corps when I left 7th Marines. Sure enough, I didn’t know any of them but it was still good to see Marines.

After shopping around the expo, we went to the motor shop and it confirmed what I already knew: I have absolutely no interest in cars in general and even less on antique British cars. Sir Phil had a good conversation with the guy there but I just stood there and tried to look like I was following along. I wasn’t.

Then it was onto the specialty dog food store. Now I’m all for feeding Buster good food without by-products (translated: roadkill, beaks, leftovers from the slaughterhouse, other pets, etc) but to travel 45 minutes to spend double the amount for this dog food seems a bit excessive. But you get a free bag after so many purchases. Yeah, well that still doesn’t make up for the fact that it’s more expensive that the food I feed my family.

The remainder of the day was spent preparing for the marathon. I know I’m not ready for this and if it wasn’t for the $80 fee and the ribbing I would take from Sir Phil, I’d bow out. But I’m on the hook so I might as well make the best of it.

Free Advice for Today:
Learn the rules of any sport your children play.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2002

BLOG entry for this day from 1997


Friday, October 24, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“GREAT LEADERS AREN'T WORRIED ABOUT THEIR OWN CAREER BUT RATHER THE CAREERS OF THEIR SUBORDINATES.” 
- Unknown

I have a lot of crap. My wife corrects me by saying “stuff” but I contend the emphasis is on quantity, not a statement on quality.

One of the biggest considerations of the day is trying not to get cut by a box cutter. I know this sounds trivial but the thought came back to me all day: cut away from you, not towards you. I was very aware of the blade of my box cutter and faithfully retracted the blade and put it in my back pocket after ever use. Do you know how easy it is to lose a box cutter in a cluttered house and how hard it is to find it? I do.

Cut the box open (away, not toward), retract the blade, put cutter in back pocket, pull open the box, get caught on a thin piece of tape, cuss, pull out the cutter, push the blade out, cut the tape, retract the blade, put cutter in back pocket, pull out 17 pounds of packing paper, find belongings, wonder why we are still keeping it, think of a place to put it, get scolded by wife for considering such a dumb place, set it aside with the other stuff you have no idea where to place.

This was my day. All day. And into the night. So tired.

Free Advice for Today:
Know when to keep silent.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2002

BLOG entry for this day from 1997


Thursday, October 23, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“GREAT LEADERS AREN'T WORRIED ABOUT THEIR OWN CAREER BUT RATHER THE CAREERS OF THEIR SUBORDINATES.” 
- Unknown

The movers showed up when I was at the post office setting up the mail. By the time I returned, they were starting to unload.

Dealing with movers is a tricky dance. You have to be nice to them because you don’t want them to destroy your stuff. It was easy with this crew because after I introduced myself and talked to them a bit, I found that I actually liked them. I was a bit uncomfortable standing there like a prison guard, checking off the number of each box as they unloaded it but they worked fast and with only one drop (the Christmas bulbs came spilling out, breaking 4). It was an awkward situation but I played it off as “Oh well, it happens.” I’m constantly amazed at what will and will not set me off.

The best part of the day was having lunch with these guys. I offered to buy them lunch and I realized that they are not allowed to ask for it but are at the ready if asked. Cheap and in quantity: McDonalds, here we come.

On the stipulation that they get the dining room table set up, I offered to have a sit down lunch with them. This seemed to be out of the ordinary for them (One of them said he couldn’t remember the last time he sat down to have lunch) and it turned out a good time. I think they appreciated the hospitality and they asked me about my job and my running. They couldn’t believe I ran the 50 mile races.

The movers were organized in usual, unofficial roles. There was the leader who was Jamaican and had a thick accent. There was a kid who the others always picked on and they considered lazy. There was the wild one who was a little reckless and then there was the politician who tried to smooth it all out. They worked well together and unloaded my 13 crates by mid-afternoon. To them, it was another day. To me, the unloading of everything I've amassed in a lifetime.

Now the fun began. Unpacking and organizing (usually my forte) took up the rest of the night and since tomorrow is trash day, we wanted to get as many cardboard boxes on the street as we could. By the end of the night, we had covered the entire frontage of our property with cardboard and made a significant dent in our unpacking process.

I went to bed more tired than I’ve been in a long time but it was in my king size bed. Life is good.

Free Advice for Today:
Know when to speak up.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2002

BLOG entry for this day from 1997


Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“NEVER WRESTLE WITH A PIG. HE LIKES IT, YOU GET DIRTY.” 
- Unknown

Destination Day!!! The final leg of the drive was a long one and when new got into Virginia, we, of course, got lost. Mapquest leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to terminal guidance but it got us in the general vicinity. After getting way back into the woods and hearing banjoes, we finally made our way to the Patches house but not before going through some interesting battlefields (Wilderness, Chancelorsville). It would have been more interesting if I wasn’t dead tired, irritable, and it wasn’t pitch dark.

Staying at the Patches long enough to get our other car, get our keys, and telling them that come hell or high water, we were staying at our house tonight, we headed out to the new home. We, of course, got lost but soon found our way.

The house was empty (the movers come tomorrow) and we unloaded the truck, putting what we had where it belonged. After a long trip and a tiring day of driving, we decided that staying up half the night doing what we could was in order. Such is the excitement of new home ownership.

I played a game of Skipbo on the landing with the kids (the little monsters beat me handedly!!!) and we ended up sleeping in sleeping bags this first night. We went to bed tired, excited, relieved, and content that we actually accomplished the trip cross-country and now were in our first home.

Free Advice for Today:
Remember that overnight success takes about fifteen years.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2002

BLOG entry for this day from 1997


Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“THINGS ARE NEVER AS BAD OR AS GOOD AS FIRST REPORTED.” 
- Unknown

My cousin writes about the minor league baseball team in Springfield so he took me to the baseball field he works at. Nothing is quite as depressing as a baseball field during the off season. The field is all busted, the seats empty, and the stadium silent. Oh, except for my kids running up and down the aisles, screaming like heathens. That’s my kids.

Before all of this, we ate at Shoney’s. I held off the draw of the buffet and ordered a club sandwich (what I always order at this kind of establishment). The waitress was a perfect example of Tennessee womanhood. I was “honey” and at the end of the meal, she wanted to know if we wanted pie (pronounced “pa”). We were also inundated with a perceived need for sweet tea. Massive amounts. Gallons.

Kary mentioned that the Pringles factory was nearby. Not exactly the “Pringles” factory but the major company that makes them (the name escapes me). Since my wife and kids eat Pringles like they give everlasting life, we decided it would be neat to see where they are made. We found the plant but the area had been ravaged last May by a tornado which ripped through the town. The plant had sustained damage and they were still working on fixing it, therefore all tours were suspended. Bummer. No Pringle-nirvana.

Speaking of tornado-ravaged sights, Kary took us through downtown Springfield. I was amazed at the damage and how little was fixed since May. Buildings were leveled, brick walls were stripped off, trees were uprooted. It was nasty. Of course Alex, my weather-obsessed son, was enthralled by the whole matter. Nothing like a little natural catastrophe tour for the family.

Rounding out our whirlwind visit to Springfield, we went to the mall and I spent hours looking through the book store while everyone else were probably bored silly. We couldn’t fit much more in the truck so any major purchases were out. I needed to more books so I was content just looking around.

After this got boring, we decided to see a movie. For the first time, we sent the kids off to see a movie while we watched another. I think that 9 and 11 is old enough but just in case, I gave Alex my cell phone. He made me promise I wouldn’t call unless there was an emergency because he didn’t want to be embarrassed at the ring. That’s my boy.

We saw Runaway Jury which was a pretty good flick. I don’t care what others say but if Gene Hackman is playing any other character than the gold-plated ass, I don’t want to see it.

Free Advice for Today:
Fill your gas tank when if falls below one-quarter tank.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2002

BLOG entry for this day from 1997


Monday, October 20, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“MEASURE WITH A MICROMETER; MARK WITH A CRAYON, CUT WITH AN AX.” 
- Unknown

From OKC to Tennessee is about 10 hours of driving. We had intended to stay in a hotel between the two day trip to Virginia but then decided to stay with my cousin who lived about half way, thus getting across country and staying in all of one hotel.

My cousin is a bachelor sports writer for the Springfield paper. It’s always strange to deal with someone who you always remember as a toddler but Kary has grown up and is on his own. We appreciated his hospitality and invaded his two bedroom townhouse for a day. Buster was the ugly guest and pissed on his carpet but we promptly cleaned it up. Sorry about that, Kary.

We ate at a dive bar/grill with horrible service. They had dollar beer and dollar slice pizza and we thought it would be a great deal. It would have been if we weren’t ignored by the waitress the entire time. I looked at my wife incredulously when she asked me if we should tip at the end of the meal. Yeah, right.

Free Advice for Today:
Don't expect money to bring you happiness.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2002

BLOG entry for this day from 1997


Sunday, October 19, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“YOU CAN'T COME BACK TO A PLACE YOU'VE NEVER GONE TO.” 
- Unknown

Picture Day! But luckily, not for me. My mom had this great idea that while we were in town, we could get all the kids together and get a professional picture done at the mall. This included my two spawn and Delbert’s grandchildren: Heather and the triplets. I felt for poor Heather because she is a senior in high school and has one foot out of the “kids” category but she was a real trooper. The triplet girls are her cousins and they were premature but at 6 months, they are doing fine.

Their father Tim and I had fun at the mall when we were left to watch the babies as the women grazed, I mean shopped. He was explaining to me how annoying it is to be constantly approached by people with questions, and stupid ones at that. You would think this a harsh outlook but I soon realized that people come up to him non-stop and it would become annoying (especially to someone with absolute no patience like someone I know).

As we sat there and talked, I realized that we looked like a gay couple with three babies. Tim said that when one of the many questioning strangers asked him if it was hard to take care of them, he just about put a limp hand on my shoulder and lisped “Yeth, but he helps me a lot.” If he would have done that, I would have followed suit with “But he does the breast feeding because it irritates my nipples.”

As we chuckled at the possibilities, he told me a funny trick he and his brother plays on their dad. When they are driving in a small truck, three abreast, Tim will duck down out of sight in the far end of the passenger side which leaves it looking like the two remaining people are sitting close, side by side in the truck.

For the third night in a row, we ate like kings. Big, fat, glutinous kings. This time it was Mexican food with the entire gang. I ordered a beer but they told me they don’t serve alcohol on Sundays. I wanted to slap the waiter. I wanted to say I don’t tip on Sundays either but I was overridden by the missus.

Free Advice for Today:
Find a good tailor.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2002

BLOG entry for this day from 1997


Saturday, October 18, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“LIFE'S TOUGH; IT'S EVEN TOUGHER IF YOU'RE STUPID.” 
- Unknown

Today we made the great trek from Arkansas City to Oklahoma City and if there were ever an appropriate time to use the old line “Move along, nothing to see here,…” this was the time. Two hours of bliss topped off by me getting lost in OKC. I was an ass, yelled at Carrie, we got in a fight, and such was life for the next few days. Yes, the toll is due for spending TOO much time together.

For dinner, we went to my mom’s favorite restaurant. Well, it’s not exactly a restaurant, it’s more like an eating warehouse. The Chinese all-you-can-slam-down-your-piehole buffet was spectacular in its quantity of food we happily gorged ourselves on. It was a frenzy, although some of the stuff I frenzied less or not at all on just because it was fish or other horrendous offering. I feasted on the noodles, deep fried chicken, deep fried pork, egg rolls, you know, the healthy stuff.

I waddled out of there but not the worst in the place. There were some veritable land whales there. It goes back to what I’ve noticed for years: Americans are FAT!!!

Free Advice for Today:
Arrive at work early and stay beyond quitting time.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2002

BLOG entry for this day from 1997


Friday, October 17, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“IF SOMETHING DOESN'T KILL YOU, IT WILL MAKE YOU STRONGER.” 
- Unknown

My aunt called and wanted to know if I could help my convalescing uncle with some chores that needed to get done. Of course she had to outline what they were because Uncle Kent would never tell me and protested the entire time. But how is a man recovering from back surgery going to move a pile of wood from behind the shed to the garage?

I was excited for a couple of reasons: first I could somewhat earn my keep. Second, it was some exercise. Third, I was looking forward to even a small example of farm work to complete the illusion that I was a hard working farm boy doing chores on the ranch. Hey, you take what you can get when you’ve had no real job for almost a month.

I got an unexpected surprise when the kids wanted to help and I realized it was a good opportunity to get them away from the TV. Each took a turn loading the wheelbarrow with wood and then hauling it over to the garage. My son started to criticize his sister but I told him that everyone had a different way to load the wood and his way was no better than his. To tell the truth, it was hard for me not to interject my own advice before I realized it was a perfect way to let them discover it on their own, do a little physical work, and accomplish something on their own. They had a good time with it and I stood their proud of my hard-working kids.

This lasted until Uncle Kent asked who wanted to go to the neighbor’s house and see the pigs. Suddenly, I was alone and finished up the wood myself which was fine because I could get it done a lot faster alone. I worked up a small sweat and when I was done, I was proud to have done some work. Not bad for a city boy.

The other family I wanted to see while I was in Ark City was my Uncle Donny. Actually, he’s my father’s uncle but might as well be my own. My father promised any of his uncles that if they showed up at the hospital when I was born, he’d name me after them. Well, I guess Uncle Donny showed up, hence “Jason Donald Grose.”

The Grose blood is a little bit like the Hayfields and the McCoys, all mixed together. Groses are known around town as the wild bunch who drink to fight and fight to drink. They are all hard working farm boys who break more than a few hearts but mostly just have a penchant to get in a lot of trouble (a fact that made my cousin becoming a police officer in town an example of irony at its best). If a woman can rope one of them and hang on until they mature, they normally have a good man but getting through the youthful oats takes a strong woman.

You would never guess that my Uncle Donny was his generation’s version of the wild Groses but his sons, well, that’s another story. Uncle Donny is retired now and just like all of the Groses, he’s a master storyteller. With his booming voice, dramatic manner, Kansas drawl, and animated gestures, it’s like watching good theater when he tells a story. This time it was about the hunting dogs he’s raising and he didn’t fail to entertain and that is why we like to go out and see him every time we’re in town.

Uncle Donny used to work with Uncle Kent out at the GE plant and when I asked Uncle Kent if he wanted me to pass along anything to Uncle Donny, he said:

“Yeah, tell him not to blink.”

The Groses have yet another family trait which involves doing a lot of blinking when they get going with their storytelling. It’s quite humorous to watch and must be a combination of genes and environment because of them do it and you will catch yourself following suite if you stay for too long.

You see, I’m a combination of two rather large families in Ark City and in fact, I should not exist. Pairing up the Groses and the Garcias is like pairing up pit bulls with poodles. My mother was a beauty queen who never had a date because no one would ask her out, figuring someone that gorgeous would either have tons of boyfriends or would never go out with anyone short of a Greek God. That is until my father, a brash Grose who had no fear, decided he wasn't scared of anything and asked her out. The rest, as they say, is history so it’s pretty scary to know that my existence is a result of the two most unlikely people coming together.

The Grose blood is diluted in me more than my brother. I still have a bit of fire that boils up more often than I’d like but I mainly have the Garcia line of hard work, respect for my elders, and love of family. The Grose’s have traits that I respect and like to think I’ve inherited some of them (hard work, toughness, self-sufficiency) and some I hope never manifest. I just hope I got a good mix.

In trade for the hard work I had performed, Uncle Kent charbroiled some steaks for me. OK, maybe it was just for being his nephew but I can make up my own explanations, thank you very much.

I don’t know how he does it but my uncle can make a mean steak. I mean you always hear people brag that they can make a better steak than the next guy but I always wondered how you can char a piece of cow flesh in a manner than is radically different than anyone else, especially to the point that the quality is far superior. It’s just adding heat to meat, right?

That’s what I thought. But my uncle made me a steak that was spectacular. It was a big T-bone and I ate every gut-splitting, artery-clogging morsel until all I could do was waddle over to the couch, mumbling “Give me five minutes and I’ll help clean up.”

I didn’t help with anything and was there for a bit longer than 5 minutes.

I still don’t know how he did it; maybe he used a special seasoning, spit on it, used ground up human flesh on top; who knows but whatever the additive, the steak will live in my memory long after the triple bypass it contributed to.

As a surprise, my aunt bought me a cake with an Eagle, Globe, and Anchor on it which said “Congratulations, Jason, we’re proud of you.” This meant so much to me because she went through the trouble to recognize my recent accomplishment. Her and my grandma got cards for me and their little celebration meant more to me than the graduating ceremony at NPS. I never have to wonder if I come from good stock because time and again, they prove to me that I carry the lineage of wonderful people.

Free Advice for Today:
Let some things remain mysterious.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2002

BLOG entry for this day from 1997


Thursday, October 16, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“NEVER ARGUE WITH AN IDIOT. PEOPLE WATCHING MAY NOT BE ABLE TO TELL THE DIFFERENCE.” 
- Unknown

I succeeded on getting a run in today, albeit only 5 miles. Running in Kansas was a weird event because I ran on a dirt road with about a billion crickets chirping all around me. It was a beautiful morning and one of the details that took me aback was a typical Kansas trait: everyone that passed me in a car waved. It was strange and something you don’t see anywhere in the city. By the way, nothing makes you feel more like being from “The City” than a stay in Ark City.

You would think that Kansas was flat, right? That was my impression until I ran and dragged my ass up a sloping hill for a few miles. The hills are here in Kansas, the bastards are just hidden.

The Boohers live on a huge plot of land on the outskirts of town. It’s dead quite out there and people would pay a lot of money to experience the kind of serenity this isolated homestead provides. Family, plenty of food, peace and quiet; I don’t know if I ever want to leave.

I visited my grandfather and his second wife, Lois. My grandfather had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease but recently found out that he instead had Lou Gerig’s Disease. He was having a fair day but I guess he has his good ones and bad ones. These days, it’s more like going out to visit Lois but grandpa had a few random outbursts that were pretty funny:

“How many miles is it to Alaska?”

My grandpa was always pretty long-winded so it’s strange to see his quiet. Grandpa would tell stories (usually the same ones) over and over, with his booming voice and we would have to start saying goodbye an hour before we intended to leave. We loved him (still do) and never missed an opportunity to go out and see him in his big trailer home on the outskirts of Ark City and the acid test of any potential wife was how she could handle grandpa. Some crumbled under the pressure but ever since 1987 when I brought Carrie, she has handled him with understanding, compassion, and a little giggle knowing what she’s in for with me (hopefully a VERY watered down version down the line.)

Free Advice for Today:
When friends offer to help, let them.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2002

BLOG entry for this day from 1997


Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“TAKE 5, EXPECT 3, GET 2.” 
- Unknown

I stayed up way too late last night working on a database. I made some progress but of course went to bed tired, frustrated, and convinced that I was the densest person ever to walk the earth. Databases have that effect on me.

But today was a good day because we traveled to my birth place: Arkansas City, KS. The car ride was classic Oklahoma to Kansas fields of boredom and I was very tired but we made it without flipping Truckasaurus. We saw plenty of Midwestern conservative ladies with big owl glasses, tight permed hair, lots of make up, smoking a cigarette, and driving a big Caddy 20 MPH under the speed limit with a bumper sticker that says Jesus Saves. You know what I’m talking about if you’ve ever been here.

The first stop was a visit to my grandma’s assisted living apartment. She’s in her eighties but pretty spry for a woman her age. The place was nice but other than my grandma, the people living there looked like they were just waiting to die. It was pretty depressing and I decided that I would live past 100 but never get old. I’ll get back to you on exactly I’m gonna swing it.

After leaving the minimum security prison for the elderly, we went to see my father. He lives in a small house where he watches television all day (while taping on another TV). He hadn’t seen the kids in a few years so it was nice to catch up.

Finally, we got out to my Aunt’s house where we were staying while visiting Ark City. She is my mother’s younger sister and I’m very close to her. Her husband, my Uncle Kent, is that crazy uncle who teased me until I cried when I was little (3 years ago) and always delivers everything with a deadpan, Kansas drawl which prevents you from figuring out if he’s joking or not. He was a little mellower this trip on account of his recent back surgery and even though I had him right where I wanted him after decades of teasing me, I resisted the temptation to knock him over and watch him try to get up like a turtle on its back. Actually, I love my Uncle Kent and think that he and Aunt Barbara are some of the finest people I’ve ever known.

Tonight we had the normal Aunt Barbara feast for visiting family: a Mexican dinner of Biblical proportions. There were so many taco and tostadas that I nearly burst my stomach lining trying to make a dent in the quantity. My mean-spirited personality got the better of me and I had to call my brother on my cell phone just to let him hear me crunch into the first taco. He told me he hated me.

With grandma, Aunt Barbara, Uncle Kent, my cousin Sharon and her husband Kelly, their children Gerig and Drake, my two heathens, Alex and Steph, and then Carrie and me, the family dinner was quite a spectacle. The night ended in the typical fashion: food coma. It was good to be with family again.

Free Advice for Today:
Be better prepared than you think you need to be.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2002

BLOG entry for this day from 1997


Monday, October 13, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“All those that believe in psychokinesis raise my hand.” 
- Unknown

Yet another day of blissful nothingness. I’m a little sore so in the early morning negotiation that took place in my head while still in bed, I decided a run would not be in my best interest. I figured I could rest up and tackle the entire lake perimeter tomorrow. It was not much of a fight and I caved easily.

The following relationship is complicated but necessary to understand the story. My mom lives with Delbert and they’ve been together for years. They are doing the Goldie Hawn/Kurt Russell thing for a variety of reasons but might as well be married. Delbert is a widower and has two boys. One of his boys just had triplets and they barely made it, requiring a lot of medical attention and support from the entire family. My mother considers them as much her grandchildren as my own kids and the relationship between all of the parties is as close as family. OK, background complete.

Today we got to go over to Krista’s house and see the triplet girls. Two of them are twins. They are a few months old and just adorable. I have to admit I’m a curiosity when it comes to babies; I just love them and would have had a dozen if it was up to me (it wasn’t). So any chance to hold, rock, and play with babies just makes my day.

We spent hours just playing with the babies and I left smelling a bit like formula; a fact I didn't mind but really made Buster give me the once over when I got back to Mom’s house. I updated Krista’s computer and she gave me an external USB Zip 250 drive she never uses. Ironically, the last time I was here (and I updated her system), that same drive was in the box and I thought it was the greatest thing. Now, the technology has been a bit displaced by CD burners but it’s still a nice thing to have and I appreciate her gift.

Monday Night Football: Atlanta got spanked but it was nice to watch football again. The vacation continues.

Free Advice for Today:
Spoil your wife, not your children.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2002

BLOG entry for this day from 1997


Sunday, October 12, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“The older you get, the tougher it is to lose weight, because by then your body and your fat are really good friends.” 
- Unknown

I think my mom’s house is some kind of running Mecca. For some reason, I always run well when I’m here starting in 1997 when I trained here in the summer before TBS. It was bloody hot and my mileage was a pitiful few miles a day but the heat helped condition me for the Virginia mugginess.

Today, I got up early and hit the road for the first time in about a week. I ran about 6 ½ miles and I felt great the entire time (minus the slight pressure where the sun fails to radiate) and was happy with the results. I'm still not near where I need to be but something is better than nothing.

My blissful day continued by relaxing and watching football after a brunch trip to the local Denny’s. Now this is vacationing!

In the afternoon, we took the kids on a walk down the road where there are horses pinned up. It used to be just Streaker but since our last visit, Strawberry has made his (her?) appearance and was just as happy as Streaker to receive a bagful of carrots from us. Being a city boy, I’m still not all that comfortable around horses especially when they are eating baby carrots out of my hand with their big yellow teeth and slobbering lips. I’m smart enough to know to hold my hand flat and let them lip up the carrots but still, those teeth. Buster thought they were just big dogs and probably thought that they really grow dogs big in Oklahoma. He got a little close but a hard ground stomp by Streaker convinced him to just posture from a distance.

Speaking of Buster, he’s been good in my mother’s immaculate house but he’s not allowed on the furniture which causes him more than a little consternation. Not that he doesn’t try; he’s always putting his front paws on the couch and then looks over at me hopefully. This elicits the normal “No!” and then with the most dejected look, he slowly gets down and skulks away. But the huge backyard more than makes up for this because he gets to run around, frolic, and pee on the plethora of bushes, shrubs, flowers, and trees. Sometimes I join him but I always end up dehydrated.

Free Advice for Today:
Cut your toenails in private.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2002

BLOG entry for this day from 1997


Saturday, October 11, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“Is reading in the bathroom considered Multi-Tasking?” 
- Unknown

Did you know that it’s cold in Colorado? I know, duh.

We awoke to a frosty morning with a cold wind; just perfect for the pack up to Oklahoma but the weather really didn’t have an effect on the road trip since we were comfortably stuffed into the temperature-controlled cab of Truckasaurus. We bid Colorado Springs farewell and once again embarked on a day of driving.

I whined about the monotony of driving through Montana a few days ago. I take it all back, every single solitary word. Today we went through all of Kansas and half of Oklahoma. I thought I was going to go mad from total sensory deprivation. A few times, I poked myself in the eye just to make sure I was still alive.

To pass the time (and retain some semblance of sanity), I built a database in my head while driving and started building it on the computer while Carrie drove. I thought it would be a simple matter of breaking out the laptop, plugging it in, and blissfully tapping away. Silly, Captain. That only works like that in theory.

When I turned on the laptop, I couldn’t see a thing because the sun was beating on the screen (as it always is, no matter where I happen to be sitting in the truck). This just would not do so I tried to rig my sweatshirt up by barely rolling down the window and then hanging a bit out while I shut it. With a laptop in my lap and a neurotic dog by my side who freaks out when the sound of rushing wind fills the cab, I desperately tried to get it just right, which was possible with two hands. But this left me S.O.L. when it came to shutting the window. I tried with one hand with predictable results; I’m lucky the sweatshirt didn’t go flying out onto I-135.

Carrie watched this little dance which I think she rather enjoyed, until my irate mutterings stressed the dog who tried to crawl his 60 lb ass into her lap. You ever try to calm a neurotic dog when you really do not mean it? Doesn’t work too well.

After a dozen tries (and few unwanted pointers from the missus), I finally achieved an acceptable solution and got to work on the database. I had plugged the computer into the converter and thought I could compute for hours thanks to my newly purchased converter which ran both the mini-TV and the Nintendo just fine for the kids. None of these were plugged in at the time so I had all the power to myself. I was golden.

I’m not quite sure what the problem was but the little balloon kept popping up informing me that my power profile had changed. This happens when I switch from battery to AC or vice versa but it just kept popping up. The annoying thing is that it steals the focus which means that the keyboard doesn’t work until you acknowledge the little balloon with a click ofthe mouse. After a dozen times of this (with the accompanying wiggling of the adapter), I was pretty well peeved. Instead of doing the smart thing of finding out how to turn off the balloon, I just unplugged the damn thing and accepted that I would only get three hours of battery life.

My acceptance lasted about ten seconds because it just shouldn’t be this way. It didn’t matter that I wouldn’t even be using the computer for three hours, it was just the thought of being on battery really got to me. So I plugged it back in and the balloon continued with its little game. Delving deeper into this mystery, I discovered that the AC power was coming and going every 5 seconds or so and that was causing the profile to change and therefore the bubble indicator. I had already wasted some of my precious battery time which made it more irritating. I am not a patient man nor a smart one despite my latest academic credential achievement.

In the end, I realized that the power was coming and going which provided an interesting math problem. When the power came on, it ran off Truckasaurus power and charged up the laptop battery even if just a little. When it would go off, the laptop battery would drain just a little. If I was more mathematically inclined (and actually gave a rat’s ass) I could have calculated how long this would extend the life of the current battery charge. It was a negative drain so eventually it would suck the battery dry but how much longer after the standard three hour battery life?

The fact that I opted to build a database I had designed in my head rather than figure out this problem probably cancelled out the sanity points I earned of back peddling from the riddle. My geek stock soured.

So that was the excitement of traveling all day from Colorado Springs to Oklahoma City. We got in about 2100 local time and had a short visit with my mom before collapsing into bed. My main goal for tomorrow is to get a run in for the first time in a week. The marathon on October 26th isn’t going to run itself!!! (but it might run me to my grave if I don’t get some road miles on my feet rather than my tires).

Free Advice for Today:
At the end of your days, be leaning forward -- not falling backwards.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2002

BLOG entry for this day from 1997


Friday, October 10, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“Good Health is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die.” 
- Unknown

Pike’s Peak doesn’t look all that impressive, to tell the truth. Maybe it was the lack of snow or just my continuous exposure to incredible sights over the last few weeks but to me, it just looked like a bump in a line of mountains. Oh well, such is my opinion.

Today was a day of rest and we welcomed the lack of any serious plans. Ang, our hostess who has been my wife’s friend since high school, was leaving the next day to visit family back in Seattle so we had this fortuitous overlap of our schedules to spend a day together. Bryan, her husband, had to go to work so I was left with the two women and a total of 5 kids in a new house they had just bought. I felt like a polygamist.

We went to a dog park which I thought was pretty cool. It was an huge, enclosed area where dogs could roam free and partake in the dog ritual of sniffing ass like you read about. There were a half dozen dogs there by the time we arrived and it didn’t take long before all butts were sufficiently sniffed.

The sign at the entrance informed dog owners that all dogs must be leashed and their excrement must be picked up per ordinance umtifratz. Why must we have leashed dogs in a dog park, specifically designed to let dogs run free? I just didn’t get it and apparently neither did anyone else because there wasn’t a leashed dog to be found. Some rules are just beggin’ to be broken.

After the park experience we came back, ate lunch, and I took a power nap of Biblical proportions. After 3 hours of near-death sleep, I awoke feeling much better and like the worst of my sickness was over. I definitely earned my napping title this day.

For dinner, we had some of the best ribs I’ve ever gorged upon. Bryan hit a homer with the BBQ and we all devoured the ribs like cavemen back from the hunt. Even drunk with rest, the food coma was not far away.

Bryan is a busy man. Ang is even busier with two boys and a baby girl. So it wasn't surprising that their computer was woefully neglected. Because I am me, I updated their Explorer with 19 critical updates. I also fixed their lack of antivirus protection and set them up with a junk Hotmail account for those times they must provide their email address but know that the entity will send them terabytes of junk. I saw what I had done, and I was happy.

Geekfully satisfied, we ended the visit like all good friends do; sitting in the living room after the kids went to bed and talked about such subjects as our dysfunctional family tree branches and memories of drunken days gone by. The evenly distributed sheen of carrots mixed with stomach fluid layering the passenger side of my truck was a hot topic (after an open bar at a reception years ago). The night ended with my vasectomy story followed closely by my appendicitis yarn. I wonder why everyone got suddenly tired.

Free Advice for Today:
Never type a love letter. Use a fountain pen.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2002

BLOG entry for this day from 1997


Thursday, October 9, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“The meek shall inherit the earth... after we're through with it.” 
- Unknown

Just like General Custer may have realized too late, life throws very unexpected moments at you.

After leaving Montana after the great visit with Michelle, we were once again on the road, traveling across this great country. The morning was clear and the scenery was wide open. Within about an hour, I started to see signs for Little Big Horn Battlefield. Little Big Horn? Here? Really?

As my knowledge of American history took a hit, I realized that I knew next to nothing about this battle, other than Custer getting his butt handed to him by Indians. That was the sum total of my knowledge. Impressive, I know.

As we got closer, I decided that we should stop. My wife on the other hand, wasn’t all that interested and wanted to stay on the road to get to Colorado but I overrode the decision by pointing out I didn’t want this just to be a long drive. I wanted us to see what we could and provide some memories for the kids. Anyway, just knowing that Custer bit it at the battle was not enough for me to live with. I thought I should be able to at least fake my way through a conversation about the battle.

The battlefield had been turned over to the National Parks so in the fine tradition of governmental control, it was $10 to get in. But as far as the commercialization of national monuments go, this one was a bit more subdued, although you could stop and a dozen or so places within 20 miles each way and get your souvenir "Custer’s Last Stand" garage sale fodder. I also noticed you could also get Custer’s Last KFC nearby. Gotta love fast food encroachment.

The memorial included all the actual places where the battle unfolded, a national cemetery for the 450+ US Soldiers killed, and the 100-200 Indians. It seems the skinny of it was that these Indians were told to stay on their reservation and they said “Screw that” (not a direct quote, as far as I know.) They camped out and when Custer saw them, he split his forces to attack. Things didn’t go all that well because either Custer misjudged the number of Indians or he thought most of them were not warriors. Whatever the reason (I didn’t read too much of the details), when the attacks started, the soldiers got routed across a 5 miles area. There were a bunch of different battle sites but of course the most famous one was where Custer bought it.

At the top of a small hill, the Indians surrounded Custer and about 40 of his men. The general and his men shot the horses (a fact that I found the most disturbing) for breastworks. I know that sounds like uppity language but that’s what they called it. For us normal folk, it means they shot the horses to hide behind as they lay prone on the ground. This didn’t last long and the Indians got Custer and his men.

It was weird being at the actual spot and seeing the rise where Custer was, just imagining hundreds of screaming Indians charging toward you. Other than the highway in the distance, the view from the hill is almost untouched by human advancement and therefore the site I saw was probably very similar to what the general saw, sans a few hundred Indians ready to have my scalp for brunch.

Satisfied with our historical dalliance, we took the requisite family pics (“… and here is Alex and Steph standing where General Custer’s arrow-perforated body was hacked to pieces by irate Indians…”) and headed down the road again. History is so much fun.

I wish there was more to write about today but it can all be summed up by imagining watching surveillance footage of a deserted grocery store. Adding to the magic was the fact that the lock-jaw had moved up to my sinuses and I felt like deep fried dog feces all day. Carrie did most of the driving while I tried to find alternating comfort zones from side to side to let the mucus drain from on sinus cavity to another. Buster tried to help but only managed to exist in every prime comfort zone I could find.

We made it to Colorado Springs that night and were greeted by our good friends who had dinner ready for us. I was still feeling a bit sick but was glad to be at the next checkpoint. We ate dinner and talked until late into the night before retiring to the futon which was surprisingly comfortable.

Other than the sickness, I have to chalk up this day as a good one. But when you visit the place where a general was carved up by some severely pissed off injuns, any day seems like a walk in the park.

Free Advice for Today:
Don't say no until you've heard the whole story.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2002

BLOG entry for this day from 1997


Wednesday, October 8, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“You always find something in the last place you look.” 
- Unknown

Traveling through Montana. All day. Beautiful monotony. The good things: not a lot of traffic, wide open roads, and 75 MPH speed limit. Bad things: miles and miles and miles and miles…

The scenery was spectacular but after awhile, it was the same awe-inspiring scene again and again. I guess if you have to travel, this is the way to do it.

My jaw was a little better today but still ached, especially when I chewed. This prevented a snack-o-rama on the road but did nothing for the brunch and dinner tortures. I still managed to poison myself with crappy road food though.

We slept in and then met Michelle for a tour of her YWAM facility. It’s amazing how she can live there because she has to depend on monetary donations. Youth With A Mission (YWAM) is a training center on an old military base. They teach classes and organize missions all over the world but the workers have to scrape by to make ends meet. Michelle went to school there, has been on a few missions, and now is part of the staff where she lives and works on the base. I’m very proud of her and consider my tithe an honor.

We stayed in the hospitality quarters and by the time we went over to Michelle’s house, she was at work and we discovered Buster had left her a special gift in the living room, which we promptly cleaned up. Carrie was stressed and I guess that her roommate had noticed and left a message for Michelle at work. This prompted the message taker to tell someone else so as we toured the site, different people were offering their condolences about Michelle’s carpet. It quickly became our running joke: “Oh, Michelle, sorry to hear about your carpet…”

We ate brunch at the local greasy spoon that had a rather rustic Montana motif going. It proudly claimed the best “big ass breakfast” in Montana which, despite my lack of Montana breakfast experiences, I can attest to. Huge, artery-clogging portions filled my oversized plate. I think there were about 5 potatoes worth of hash browns, a side of pig in the form of bacon, and scrambled eggs that I’m pretty sure were deep fried in lard. I had 7 heart attacks just finishing the damn thing.

After saying good bye, we hopped on the treadmill disguised as the highway and off we went. There was not much to see or comment on, except the truck stop I noticed. Is the name “Kum & Go” really the best name for a truck stop? I hate to go to the gutter but someone in charge should have raised the flag on that one.

We got all the way to Billings Montana for the night and were amazed that the Motel 6 only cost about $45. We always use Motel 6 because you can have pets there and Buster is quite the discerning guest.

I called Shane Maxey for his birthday. The guy is like, old and stuff. My mentor could still kick the living crap out of me but he’d have to catch me first which would be a challenge these days. Happy birthday, Big Red.

Free Advice for Today:
Never snap your fingers to get someone's attention. It's rude.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2002

BLOG entry for this day from 1997


Tuesday, October 7, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“Never get into fights with ugly people, they have nothing to lose.” 
- Unknown

My first wake up in the great state of Montana started at 0500 when I inexplicably just popped awake. Not knowing what time it was, I tried to focus on the corner of my computer screen nearby but the glare caused me to stare at it for too long to get the time. Should I get up? Should I go back to bed? Should I get mental help for not sleeping in when I can?

I fell back asleep for a couple of hours and then started my Montana day by going to the local store for donuts with Michelle, my sister-in-law. The town nearby is small and right out of the stereotype of what you would imagine a small Montana town would be. Me and my Tilly hat fit right in.

After horsing down a donut, we got ready and got on the road to go hiking. Because it’s the off season, many things were closed (a running joke we all took part in) so we ended up traveling the 1.5 hours to the Glacier National Park. With a name like that, I knew I’d be fishing around in my underwear for the testicles I would eventually freeze off. I was not disappointed.

But before I get to that, I’ll relay a rather out-of-character experience for this rustic area. We pulled up to a gift shop and after getting Buster out of the back of the Jeep, the store worker opened his little window and felt compelled to tell me that they are trying to grow the grass on the upper lawn so if I could take my dog to the park across the way. This didn’t sit well with me (imagine that) and I asked if he wanted my dog to crap in his parking lot, that could be arranged. I gave him the hairy eyeball for the entire visit. Buster decided to show his appreciation for the comment by taking a big dump in the lot and I was tempted to leave it there. But I always clean up after my dog, even in the face of rudeness so I cleaned it up.

We got to the park where we wanted to hike and were greeted by a blast of icy wind. I guess with a name like Glacier Park, you know what you are getting into and I expected a certain amount of “environment” since it was Montana after all. I accepted the chilly reception and was happy to be hiking up a trail within a few minutes, despite the wind. The trail was 1 ½ miles to Hidden Lake, all up hill into ice wind. At a certain point it even hailed on us. But I was determined and happy to soak in the full weather experience Montana had to offer. I walked and walked and walked up to a dozen false summits, expecting the Hidden Lake to be just over the next hill. As we got higher, the wind grew more fierce in strength and temperature. I was experiencing Montana to the fullest, oh boy.

When I finally made it to Hidden Lake (which I now understand why it was hidden; because no one is dumb enough to brave the cold to get to it), my reward was a wind-swept overlook in the ice cold mountains. What a treat. We took a few pictures and then looked forward to a rapid, down-hill descent with the cold air to our backs. Other than a slightly twisted ankle suffered by my daughter, we made it down in record time, helped by the fact that it was almost 1400 and we had not eaten yet.

The warmest place we could find was the Jeep so we crammed into it and ate our deli sandwiches. Buster was happy we were back since they didn’t allow pets and we had to leave him in the truck. What he’ll never know is that we saved him from a trip to freezer-like conditions but somehow I don’t think he appreciates the cold we saved him from.

The trip home involved one driver, two sleeping adults, two sleeping kids, and a sleeping dog. By the time we got back to Michelle’s, we were all still tired but finally had body temperatures above popsicles. Within a few hours, I discovered I received a rather unique memento of Glacier Park: something very similar to lockjaw that I correlate with cold air shooting into my ears for over an hour. For the rest of the night, I was graced with severe jaw pain which made the rib dinner an exercise in excruciating pain tolerance (of which I have none). I am assured it’s the best ribs in Montana; a fact that I will have to take on faith since the experience was a bit tainted by the blinding pain accompanying every bite. And it only cost me $55!!! What a deal.

Even the trip to Borders only slightly dulled the pain but it was nice to hit the almighty bookstore. I bought Galloway On Running book and really looked at the PHP and MySQL books but they were too expensive (and as though I’ll have any time soon to play with them!)

My sister-in-law wanted to get me a book as a graduation gift but the one she knew I wanted was not available. It was a new Borders and their shelves were not yet fully stocked. She told me she’d find it online and send it to me and I really appreciated the thought just as much as if she had bought it tonight. And anyway, it would likely sit in the queue for potentially years. Such is my reading schedule.

Free Advice for Today:
Don't use a toothpick in public.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2002

BLOG entry for this day from 1997


Monday, October 6, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“Depression is merely anger without enthusiasm.” 
- Unknown

Ready to hit the road. The plan was to pack Truckasaurus, hit the road, and drive to Montana to see my sister-in-law and in the process, actually begin my eastward trek toward Virginia.

Driving from Seattle to Montana is an exercise in changing and repeating scenery. It seemed like we went through mountains, over rolling plains, back into mountains, rolling plains, again and again until we hit the land of big sky. And by the way, they don’t just say that flippantly: the sky is friggin’ huge here. OK, maybe my view is a little tainted since it was about the only thing I knew about the state but I’ll have to admit, as far as the relative size of atmospheric envelopment goes, it’s big here.

You will notice that for most of the past year, I’ve been adding free advice after each Blog entry. I decided to take my own advice and the results were somewhat predictable. I was tooling along, up a gigantic hill with no one in front of me. Since about 99.9% of the road was under some type of construction (“The Land of Big Road Construction”) we were down to sharing our side of the two lane portion of I-90 with oncoming traffic (read “no possibility of passing”). I was happy not to be slowed down, other than the huffing and puffing of Truckasaurus who isn’t quite as young as it used to be when I saw a sign that stated a historic landmark was just ahead. Just then, one of the advice tidbits jumped in my head that you should never pass up historical landmarks. I decided to pull in to see the historical significance of a desolate stretch of I-90 and the money shot was that some big landslide had nailed a train in 190something. Don’t worry, everyone survived but just as I was contemplating the value of pulling over, three big-ass, slow moving trucks lumbered by and got ahead of me. There was nothing I could do but consider the long-term effects of following simple advice from a book. For the next 5 miles, I stayed in third gear going 20 miles an hour up a steep grade while watching the ass of a huge semi puttering ahead of me. My historic interest was not piqued but my hatred for large truckes was fully pegged.

I love my kids. That’s why it’ll be so difficult for me when I stuff them in the back of the truck for the rest of the trip. The family discord started when we pulled in for lunch and I announced that the TV needs to go off. Yes, you read right, we purchased a small TV/VCR combination made for the car that plugs into the cigarette lighter. What’s more, we bought an expander that will let us plug in to AC plugs so that the kids can watch movies or play on their Nintendo. Sounds like kid ecstasy, huh? Sounds like I’m the greatest dad in the world, right? Sounds like something the kids would be forever grateful for on a long trip across this wonderful country of ours (all of which they will miss while watching reruns of Sponge Bob). Yeah, you would think but instead, my son decided that he wanted to watch a few more moments. I repeated my not-so-optional request and when I interrupted his resulting protest, he slammed the screen down, ripped his headphones off, and threw them down in an angry flash.

You would think my own son would know me well enough to realize what kind of reaction this would elicit from me. Did he think I would just overlook this little display?

Words were exchanged. OK, my words were hurled at him like lightning bolts, some of which involved guarantees that he was done watching TV for the rest of the day’s trip. He also heard my little explanation of appreciation and the cost/effort output to allow them to watch television during a road trip (something I was never granted as a kid). Needless to say, I had a little mad head in the back seat but it didn’t compete with the big mad head driving the truck. When things like this happen, I tend to get just as upset and it does not roll off me as quickly as it should. I get emotionally involved when I have to punish and I tend to suffer as much if not more than the kids. I get it from my mother who used to actually break blood vessels in her neck and chest when she’d have to chase us around with a belt as we screamed bloody murder (only to erupt in a calliope of giggles once she stomped away).

We got to our destination and had a great Thai dinner with Carrie’s sister. I don’t know if I or my wife was more surprised when I gobbled everything up including the curry chicken, cinnamon chicken, peanut gravy, rice, etc.

Buster stayed with Michelle, we stayed in the guest quarters at the YWAM compound, the roaming cows stayed outside crapping on the lawn (this is Montana after all) and the kids stayed in the adjoining room with the bugs that made my skittish son yell like a little girl. The boy freaks over bugs, especially flying ones. I plan to sneak up to his bed and throw simulated insects in the dark. Paybacks, my son, paybacks.

Free Advice for Today:
Don't leave car keys in the ignition.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2002

BLOG entry for this day from 1997


Sunday, October 5, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“Never do card tricks for the group you play poker with.” 
- Unknown

“Jason, aren’t you supposed to be over at Chris’s at ten for the game?”

This is what I heard at 0900. Yes, I had fallen into vacation nastiness and my sleep patterns had degraded into slothful embarrassments.

I got up, threw on whatever was nearest, and headed out to the store. I wasn’t as hungry as last night but figured I needed a gallon of coffee. Stopping at Chuck’s donut shop, I surmised that the traditional donut shop would be a guilty pleasure I could get out of the way. It was a requirement every time I visit the Renton Highlands.

What kind of donut shop is not open on Sundays? Chuck’s donuts, that’s who. Church crowd, hello?

Next stop, Albertson’s where I journeyed to the far corner of the city-square size mega market only to discover that their donut section looked like it had been severely beaten up and then had a fat man wallow around inside the case, thrashing the remaining surviving donuts.

I almost considered just tipping my hat to fate and leaving all together but then there was the 0159 last call ugly bar fly of the breakfast world waiting for me: Hostess. Ten times, I changed my mind but finally succumbed to her womanly charms: I went with the little chocolate donuts that cost more per ounce than plutonium. Nasty and expensive.

Having committed to sinful indulgence, I made my way to the deli for a cup of coffee and was in no mood to deal with the idiocy I encountered. No one seemed all that interested in helping me out and after coming milliseconds from abandoning my box-o-gut-drops, I finally got the attention of the early morning deli help who informed me I could serve my own coffee. Easier said than done since they had no cups. As Mrs. Hiwiggins painfully went through the seemingly labor-intensive process of getting more cups, I looked over and made the fatal mistake of making eye contact with Cooter in the corner.

How do ya think the Mariners will do without their GM” croaked the old man who didn’t know me from Sheriff Andy. Good Lord, I didn’t want to have this conversation but I was stuck. My second mistake was mentioning something about losing Edgar which egged him on to expound on a plethora of subjects. As I’m hurriedly trying to pump my coffee (because this is what you do these days instead of pouring a fresh cup), I grab the sugar only to find out that this too was in need of attention. Albertson’s runs a tight ship in the coffee department. I had to ask for more which opened me up to a whole new set of interesting topics from Jo-Jo the toothless old coot. I know, he’s someone’s grandfather but why isn’t he sharing his vast baseball knowledge with them instead of total strangers in the supermarket?

I finally got away from the scene by paying too much money for too little stuff but was glad to get away. I’m an ass but an ass that keeps to himself and prefers the same in public.

Getting over to my brother’s house to watch the game, I discover I’m the only one who wants the donuts and after getting carried away with the little devil nuggets, I had a gut ache. Then my brother orders Godfather’s pizza and I never thought I’d NOT want a Godfather’s pizza but today was the day. He had them delivered and by the time they got there, I had a belly full of fake chocolate and processed dough. Of course I ate two pieces just so I’d feel like I swallowed an entire pumpkin whole, washing it down with a beer to start out the morning. I felt like puking for the rest of the day. And I mean physically lurching for the entire day.

Seahawks lost but they kicked the longest filed goal in NFL history (a fact no one at ESPN seemed to want to point out but such is the respect the Hawks get despite their 3-1 record). Chris had worked early and needed to get to sleep so I left and decided to go monitor shopping.

I always loved CompUSA but was a little disappointed this time. Not only did they not have very good deals nor selection for monitors, their entire store seemed a little lame this visit. I was told that they were “between sales” when I asked for the latest ad. I wandered through the aisles but didn’t see much that caught my attention so I went over to Best Buy where they had more monitors. I really want a 19 inch LCD but have come to realize that a 17 inch is more within my price range. I saw the cheapest one but it was still about $380 with a mail in rebate. I absolutely hate mail in rebates and try to avoid products that follow this annoying practice. I should have gone with the $350 Princeton at Costco that my wife even suggested I get!!!

The rest of the day was spent doing what I love to do the most when visiting in Renton: sitting around the Schramm house, talking, and eating. It reminded me of my last night before bootcamp way back in 1987 when I did much of the same thing before thrusting myself into a Hell on Earth.

Tomorrow we once again get on the road to continue our travels and leave Renton once again. Looking back, it was the perfect visit. I saw everyone I wanted, did everything I wanted to do, and got plenty of rest. Now if I could rid myself of these little brown donuts homesteading in my gut, all would be well.

Free Advice for Today:
Teach some kind of class.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2002

BLOG entry for this day from 1997


Saturday, October 4, 2003

Quote of the Day:
“For every action, there is an equal and opposite criticism.” 
- Unknown

For sleeping on an air mattress, I was well-rested and comfortable when I awoke in the morning. I had made a big deal of offering to get up with my brother and sister-in-law’s kids and letting them sleep in for the first time in years. I guess I should have specified that it would likely be Carrie to do the waking up. She could have awakened me but I knew she wouldn’t.

The oldest toddler, Maddie, is simply the cutest little girl currently gracing the Earth. I just happen to be her favorite uncle most likely as a result of the continuous supply of gummy Lifesavers I always seem to have in my back pocket for her. Ben is her little brother and holds the male version of the cute title. His eyes are like two coffee beans with only a hint of difference between his iris and pupil. He can’t talk yet but I’m pretty sure I’m his favorite uncle.

The overall plan was successful even if I only contributed the idea phase. Carrie woke up with them and they had a quiet morning of bonding. Scott and Kristine wallowed in blissful sleep for the first time in years. I did the same for the first time since yesterday.

Like most of our visits, we were the catalyst for family get-togethers and this day was set aside for just that purpose. Scott had recently bought a brand new house and it was plenty big for all the brothers and sisters to come and visit. It was a day of football and coffee (two trips in one day to the local coffee shop and I have the extended bathroom visits to prove it) culminated by Quiznos subs. Company, family, coffee, football, and food. What could be better (other than the Huskies not getting spanked like naughty school girls).

As the day came to an end and people started heading out, I got ready for a special visit that I had put off since last July when I was too busy to even piss myself if my pants were on fire. For a few years, I’ve been in contact with Stephanie who happens to have been my girlfriend when I was in 8th grade. She looked me up after the 10 year reunion which I had to miss due to my TBS training in Quantico. She has kids and has married and now is one of the few frequent visitors of my site who regularly sends me many jokes I post on the humor section. I’ve valued her correspondence for years and decided I should finally meet her for a beer to catch up in person.

I followed her sister’s direction to a marina restaurant and realized once I got there that I had not seen Stephanie in 16 years thus wouldn’t recognize her. She had the advantage of seeing my ugly mug on the website and could pick me out. I got to the bar and kind of looked around before asking a guy at the bar if the seat next to him was taken. He threw his arm at the chair in a drunken stupor and slurred out what I took to mean it was open and started to grab the chair when I heard someone say something to me. I turned around to see a woman with a big smile and looking at me with a mixed expression of curiosity and tentative hesitation. I had no idea if this was Stephanie and since my ability to remember faces (especially after 16 years) is about as keen as my dog’s ability to solve complex mathematics, I must have had a dumb look on my face. I decided she was going to get a hug either way and took the leap of faith this was her. I don’t know what I would have done if a startled waitress would have suddenly been attack-hugged by a stranger at the bar. It likely would have involved bail.

It did ended up being Stephanie and it was only after we sat down did my memory kick in and I pulled from the deep recesses of my memory the mannerisms of a girl who was now a woman. It seems her grandmother had just died so her sister, Kristen, could not make the little reunion so it was just the two of us to catch up on old times.

A lot of information can be exchanged in 4 hours, especially when I oil the jaw with a pair of pale ale glasses. Bless her heart, Stephanie patiently listened as I not only recalled what has happened to me since graduation in 1987 but also the painful story of the events that led up to my enlistment in the Marine Corps. For hours, I explained my high school years and how the drama of divorce, running away, drug abuse, alcoholism, depression, loneliness, heartbreak, homelessness, disaster, and poverty failed to alter my goals of high academic achievement and successful completion of high school followed by a career in the Marine Corps. I explained the effect the girlfriend I recently patched things up with after all these years, had on the pain so prevalent during those years and how my wife has helped build a life worthy of envy.

We talked about our view of the junior high years when I looked at her as every boy’s dream: blond, popular cheerleader. How I viewed myself as the skinny, shy, new guy with low self-esteem. Ironically, I learned that the reason our relationship was so brief was because I didn’t call her; a fact that had more to do with my crippling shyness rather than my attraction to her. The fact was that I thought I was a little league water boy pulled up to the Major League as starting pitcher. She was a goddess, I was an ameba.

In her view, I was the hot new kid (an obvious, massive problem with her ability to render judgment at the time) and she was the newly accepted shy girl thrust into the popular crowd and trying to fit in there. I went through the dating scenario with no less than 5 girls that year, all with the same result: they broke up because I was boring (my view) and probably thought I didn’t like them (their distorted view 180 degrees out).

We talked of such things for hours and I got to see not only the inside of distant memories from another point of view but also got to hear about the adult that I was currently talking to. I did most of the talking since she got me on the roll of my very-infrequently detailed explanation of the forces that shaped my adult outlook. Afterwards, she encouraged me to sit down and write it all out for my page or even a book but that will have to wait. I was just grateful of an audience I respected and allowed me to analyze the story as I told it. I felt extremely cleansed afterwards, if not a little guilty about the lion’s share of the conversation I used but I wouldn’t have changed a thing about the night (other than talking to the edge of a bathroom emergency for the both of us!!!).

In an uncharacteristic moment for me, I was caught off guard by neglecting to bring a gift. Not only did I forget, but the very thing I intended to bring, Stephanie did not forget. She brought me two books to read and I will gladly add them to my collection. After going it alone with crappy books I find, a recommended book is a pleasant surprise. I had two books in mind for her but somehow just spaced it. I know my promises to her that I would send them to her sounded like I was covering a social snafu on my part but I really did intend to get her the books. In a situation like that, the more you reiterate the point, the guiltier you sound so I just made her give me her address and will have to rely on my follow through to make up for the questionable-sounding explanation.

The night ended well and I felt wonderful to have spent it with someone who, although we had a strange link as boyfriend and girlfriend as young teens, had since connected on an adult level through email. She helped me more than she knows by just listening. I hope I had a similar effect. I found the personal experiences she shared with me (which I will not divulge in this forum) were poignant, human, touching, real, and interesting. For a person like me who sometimes fails to take the time to look beyond his own skin for life lessons, the experience was rewarding to say the least.

I went home happy but tired and hungry. It was too late to eat and although I went to bed hungry, I was somehow content. Sometimes reminders that life is good comes from unexpected sources.

Free Advice for Today:
Write a short note in the front cover when giving a book as a gift.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2002

BLOG entry for this day from 1997


Friday, October 3, 2003
Quote of the Day:
“If at first you don't succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried.” 
- Unknown

I told Oscar too much happened today for one Blog. I called it right.

Today I got to visit the heart of Seattle with my family and brother-in-law’s family. We had a blast, despite the annoying beginning involving loud teens at the local fast food restaurant. I came so close to making a scene but bit my tongue. We got through the lunch and headed towards the Emerald City for a day of fun in the, well, overcast.

We made the mistake of parking at metered parking with a max of two hours and therefore felt a bit of stress with our planning strategy. A ticket would not be good in the overall good feelings we had for the day in the great city of Seattle.

I saw the singularly dirtiest bum I’d ever seen pass us. His balding head was encrusted with filth all the way down his face to his scraggly, grey beard. It’s like you’d have to try to get that dirty seeing how even rain would have helped the situation. There were quite a few bums around and it made me feel even more grateful for the life I was providing for my family.

We decided to go to the IMAX theater and see the Mount Saint Helens show which was pretty neat except for the overly touted technology of the IMAX. By 1980’s standards, it was a spectacular display of a huge immersive experience. But in 2003, it was more like watching 1980’s technology. The film was grainy and you could see the pattern of the dome-screen. Despite these drawbacks (and it’s admission price which HAD kept up with the times) the film was pretty cool to see. I had never got the sense of utter devastation caused by the eruption but the helicopter-filmed images were of catastrophic destruction.

After the film, we went to the world famous Pike Place Market. If you don’t know what that is, it’s a covered “open market” that sells everything from fruit and veggies to fish. The café scene from When Harry Met Sally (when she faked an orgasm in public) was filmed there. It’s a big tourist attraction and a good “roam around” thing to do. The time was running out on the meter so we didn’t stay long but it was nice to touch base with a Seattle icon.

Our next stop was Ye Ole Curiosity Shoppe. When I was a young boy, my father would take us here and it stirred every imagination of a kid then just as it did today. The centerpiece of this wacky little shop is a full body, mummified remains of someone they found in Gila Bend AZ. The guy had been shot and left for dead before the desert swallowed him and preserved the unfortunate fellow. They had another mummy, a collection of shrunken heads, and a variety of other oddities, some hanging from the ceiling. Now it was more of a souvenir shop but they still had a lot of the things I remembered as a kid. I don’t know who it was more fun for: me or the kids.

We decided that the women and kids would take off, thus getting us out of the two hour parking and leaving Scott and I to find some longer term parking. We had another event planned at 1900 so we had two hours to kill in downtown Seattle. We found a pizza joint where they gave us free breadsticks so we killed almost two hours eating pizza and breadsticks while killing a pitcher of Flat Tire beer. Don’t ask me about the name; Scott claimed that it was good. It was a microbrew which means it was expensive and bitter but it was ice cold, thus drinkable and not too bad for a pale ale.

What we were waiting for was a tour of the local TV station where a friend of mine works as a cameraman. The last time I was in Seattle in July, he had contacted me and asked if we could meet and have a brew. Oscar was in bootcamp with me in 1987 and we hadn’t seen each other since, until he found my webpage and contacted me. I was too busy in July but promised to make it up to him when I came through in October so tonight was the fulfillment of that promise. I was giddy with excitement.

KOMO-4 news was something I remembered since I was a kid growing up in Seattle. The local radio station I listened to in high school and all through college was 101.5. Both were owned by Fisher Broadcasting and to get a behind-the-scenes tour of the facility was a dream come true.

Oscar met us at 1900 in the lobby and other than a few years on the both of us, it was looking back 16 years to a defining moment in my life. Like reunited Marines throughout the years, we shook hands, hugged, and used words like “brother” when referring to each other. It was oddly sentimental to feel so close to someone you spent 3 months with, 16 years ago and hadn’t seen since. But what a three month period it was!!!

The tour took two hours and we saw everything. We saw the news studio in the semi-dark until a friend of Oscar’s came and offered to turn up the lights. The resulting camera shots saw us at the desk where the newscasters sit, bathed in the same light I’d seen for years on TV.

We got pics in front of the green screen where Steve Pool, the weatherman, works. We saw the robotic cameras (they no longer have to be manned) and they even moved them around which was nothing short of spooky.

We also got to see the editing room, the sound room, the control where they roll the current programming (all done with Windows-based computer programs, of course) and even got to see the set of Northwest Afternoon, a local talk show.

Oscar took us up top to the helicopter pad but the bird was gone. This was not a big deal because it gave us an opportunity to see the Space Needle up close and the entire Seattle skyline. We were truly getting the tour of a lifetime.

We had a great time. For me, the simple fact that this was real TV and radio, along with seeing sets I’d watched for years, made me star struck and excited. For Scott, who installs high end audio and visual equipment in rich people’s homes, the commercial-grade electronics were the highlight. There were plasma screens as far as the eye could see. Oscar really hooked us up and we will always remember the experience.

After two hours, I was still having a great time but I really wanted to sit down with Oscar and compare life notes as well as memories of bootcamp. I figured Scott would be entertained enough; he’d always shown interest in my military affiliation since he was in junior high. We ended up going to a little bar and talking until we were hoarse. We relived the most vivid bootcamp memories and laughed at the unexpected memories that popped out. Oscar had forgotten all about the term “dying cow” which was yelled across the chowhall when one of the milk dispensers started to run out. “Dead cow” was used when it stopped dispensing altogether and was a cue that a chowhall private had better get the situation rectified like yesterday.

For a couple of hours we reminisced until the band started which rendered any verbal communication impossible. We decided to call it a night and once again, I had to bid farewell to someone I strangely cared about despite the brevity of our reunion. I was extremely appreciative of the unforgettable tour Oscar had given us but was more moved by the connection reestablished after all these years. Oscar represents to me a time in my life that has affected every moment since. It almost seems like another life and to exchange memories with Oscar made it feel more real than it has in a long time. I hope I had the same effect on him. It’s not often you get to reunite with one of 74 brothers after a decade and a half.

The night ended when I called Carrie and claimed I was too drunk to drive. This left her and Scott’s wife in a predicament because we were and hour away and the kids were asleep. I let her squirm a bit at Scott’s urging until I finally told her I was kidding and we were coming home. And this is the fun that cell phone technology lets you have. Scott and I thought it was a riot. The girls had a different reaction.

Free Advice for Today:
Be humble and polite, but don't let anyone push you around.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2002

BLOG entry for this day from 1997


 


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