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.
of the Day:
remember... You gotta break some eggs to make a real
mess on the neighbor's car!"
January 31, 2005
am the boss (or at least I have his office, now).
I came into work this morning, I was really looking forward
to getting my new office. The Major that I worked for retired
while was on my trips so when I came in today, I expected to
see a completely empty office where I could move my stuff into.
I was as excited as a kid on the first day of school.
toward his office (actually a walled off cubicle area but still!!)
I could see above the partitions that his pictures were down.
So you can imagine how my heart dropped a little when I rounded
the corner and saw that all his stuff was still in there.
around, everyone said that he had been gone for a couple of
weeks so now I was stuck in a situation. I didn’t really
want to move his stuff around but on the other hand, he WAS
was relieved to run into him late in the morning and he told
me to just push his stuff aside if I wanted to move into the
OK, I guess I an move in there” was my external reaction
while my internal reaction was “Wooooo-hooooooo yes,
yes, yes, It’s your birthday, it’s your birthday….”
the rest of the day, I carefully and respectfully crammed his
trash into the corner and delicately moved my stuff from my
squad-bay-like work area, uh, excuse me, EX-work area, into
my spacious new office with its own external patio area. I also
inherited the parking space in back of the building. Yeah, I
take the train in most days but when I drive, me likey me parking
I got done, I sat there with more satisfaction than was called
for. I had semi-privacy once again and with it, came the responsibility
of managing the program. I had reached the pinnacle of my professional
career and now it was time to get to work.
sat in the office and giggled like a school girl for the rest
of the day. So much for jumping right into the work.
the way home, I looked in my rear view mirror to see some woman
bopping her head and singing along to what I have to assume
is her stereo, simply because the alternative would mean a crazy
woman was driving directly behind me talking with her “other
because I live in Northern Virginia, I was, of course, stuck
in traffic and going at a pace that saw valium-popping snails
zooming past me and I got a nice long look at the American Idol
behind me, making herself famous.
those of you that know my Sarah
McLachlan fetish, you know I was NOT listening to the radio
but was enjoying the sweet vocals off Sarah’s (yes, we
are on first-name basis. Or would be if she knew my name) latest
offering and thus had no idea what the woman behind me was singing.
And because being stuck in traffic has climbed to the top of
my Purgatory short list, I kept trying to figure it out while
NOT slamming Truckasaurus up the kazoo of the Pacer in front
was mesmerized by this woman because not only did she have the
singing down, she even had the little head-dance movements,
side to side like Kermit the Frog. She was workin’ it
and it was worth it, she put her thang down flipped it and reversed
it…. Ti desrever dna ti deppilf nwod gnaht reh tup ehs…
it struck me; maybe she’s listening to B101.5 which is
the only Top 40 station around here. I popped out my beloved
Sarah (insert you own joke there, I’m tired), and what
should my ears perceive? Why, it was the classic Summer
Lovin’ off the Grease soundtrack and as
I peered into my rearview mirror, I saw that the Rush-Hour Princess
was sure enough getting jiggy wit old John Travolta and Olivia
it struck me that I had her busted and I could have some fun.
So I started bobbing my head to the music and since I had to
take off the tinting from the back window of Truckasaurus (it
was looking like it was hit with a blister agent), I knew she
could see me. I smiled in the rear view mirror to let her know
I knew what she hoped no one would know despite her broadcasting
her karaoke behavior.
stopping too long at a stop sign, I caught her eye and she figured
out what I was doing.
got to the part where Sandy and Danny were alternating lines
and I was doing the Danny part in the rearview mirror while
she did the Sandy part. Just as the song was ending, she took
her turn and flashed me a big smile.
it was dopy and yeah, it was weird but I had a surreal moment
with a perfect stranger who will forever be a stranger. For
that minute, we had this random connection made possible by
for the first time since I’ve lived here, I actually felt
a kinship with and didn’t want to send a large caliber
round through a fellow commuter.
it’s a little overused but aptly named in this situation.
what happened. As you recall from my Jan
5th post, I won a Rio Karma from Ebay but didn’t have
enough money in my PayPal account to cover it so I transferred
money from my bank account to PayPal. Because PayPal uses the
same goblins as Harry Potter’s Gringotts, it took forever
for the money to hit my account.
money did hit but I was away on business and therefore it seemed
prudent that I get my lovely wife to complete the transaction
in my absence. Now I’m not going to say she completely
hosed it up ten ways till Sunday or punted it into the stands
or anything because none of the three couches we own are of
sleeping quality. But I will say the results were less than
said it should have arrived in 2 to 3 working days and by the
time I got home from my trip, it was way past that. I looked
online at the tracking information from UPS and made a startling
discovery. I was adopted and was raised by my angry aunt and
uncle and am actually a wizard.
sorry, wrong story.
had shipped the Rio to Seaside California which instantly invoked
a hearty “WTF?!” from my lips. How could
inkling and a little experiment*.
experiments shouldn’t be done when in a perturbed state.)
#2: I failed to adhere to note #1.)
inkling had to do with default settings. And rather than just
checking it on PayPal, I decided to go on the road less traveled,
A.K.A., the stupid, idiotic long way.
experiment consisted in going through most of the moves of making
a payment until I see the “Are you sure you want to
do this?” screen and then punching out. It would
let me know what I wanted to know.
was what I thought was a quick and dirty way to see what they
put on the default payments. Quick? Of course not. Dirty? As
a Christine Aguilera video but with less gonorrhea.
tried to send a payment to myself. It seems that this falls
into the “Hell no you freakin’ retard”
column for PayPal. Of course I didn’t discover this until
I got through most of the process yet just before it gave me
the default shipping address.
I tried to use a fake email address. It didn’t like that
either. Then I tried to pay again on the Rio but it said I already
paid that one.
was all I could do not to take a bat to the computer at this
finally figured out how to do it and as my wife was beckoning
me to the breakfast table, I got the answer I was looking for:
the default address for PayPal was still my Monterey address.
I shifted the blame like a champ. I blamed my wife for not noticing
this at the bottom of the transaction when I had walked her
through it over the phone and thus it was her fault that my
Rio was on a fun-filled trip to California.
mind that I’ve lived here in Virginia for almost a year
and a half and never bothered to change my default address in
PayPal. Hey, whose side are you on anyway?)
I had a whole new set of problems. No, I will not call them
“challenges” at this point. These were
called the company but they didn’t work on weekends and
by the time they opened, the Karma would be delivered.
I built out this entire disaster scenario. The UPS man would
deliver the damn thing to my old address. Now if no one lived
there, he might just leave it there to rot or until some bastard
thief decided that Christmas came early this year. If someone
did live there, they would either say it wasn’t for them
or they would have a bright new shiny Rio compliments of good
old Jason with the detail-ignoring wife.
it came back to the company that sent it, now I would be looking
at another $15 shipping charge to get it to my current residence.
Things were not looking all that good and my mood reflected
next thought was that I could call UPS but to me, it seemed
that they wouldn’t or couldn’t do much for me. I
mean, I’m the recipient and shouldn’t have the authority
to alter the route of a package. If I could, anyone could call
up and screw up the shipping of legitimate packages to legitimate
this is Leisure Suit Larry and you’re sending a new
computer to my old address. Why don’t you just go ahead
and reroute it to this temporary, er, I mean this PO Box for
thought that at least I could get them to ensure they deliver
it to a live person and make damn sure he knows who the package
is for. I foresaw a lot of coordination over this but I had
to give it a try.
say honesty is the best policy so when I called up UPS, I laid
it all on the line for them, explaining in excruciating detail
the situation. So now there’s some customer support person
at UPS who either thinks my wife is a ditzy simpleton or that
I’m a filthy asshole of a husband for blaming her.
way is irrelevant but something unexpected did happen.
Sir, what is your tracking number?”
gave it to her.
Sir, I’ve rerouted it for you and someone will call
you next week to let you know when the new expected arrival
date will be. Will there be anything else today?”
stood there, stunned silent.
don’t know why they did this and it put me in a moral
dilemma of how to feel about it. I mean it’s one of those
situations that you feel companies shouldn’t do what they
just did but on the other hand it benefits you. I don’t
think that a person should be able to clal up UPS and reroute
packages supposedly sent to them. Maybe since I had the legitimate
tracking number, that was my ticket. I don’t know but
I do know that my Rio Karma is back on its way to me and the
only extra cost to me is a few more days.
like Carrie dodged a bullet. (I am so dead when she reads this).
Advice for Today:
call anybody stupid, even if you're kidding."
got an email the other day that really shook me up.
seems that the helicopter that crashed last week, killing 31
Marines, was piloted by a friend of mine. Paul Alaniz was a
Marine I went to TBS with back in 1997-1998 and we were in the
same platoon and section together.
TBS, I kind of clashed with just about everyone in the platoon
but Paul always treating me with respect when others didn’t.
I always thought this was strange because he had kind of that
tough-guy exterior and you would expect him to be abrasive but
he wasn’t; he always had a greeting for me even when the
others wouldn’t talk to me. I always remembered and appreciated
seems strange that this is the first time in all my years as
a Marine that I’ve personally known a person killed in
combat. By no means am I bragging about this, I’m, in
fact, very thankful for the fact. But it almost borders on bizarre
that after 18 years in the United States Marine Corps, and especially
considering our involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq, that this
would be my first experience with personal loss.
spent a lot of time thinking about Paul today and feel for the
family that is left behind. It’s a bit eerie to look back
at those days at The Basic School when we were all learning
about concepts that didn’t really seem urgent at the time.
But Paul was out there, lived the life of a Warrior, and paid
the ultimate sacrifice for it. As selfish as it may be, it makes
me hug my kids a little harder and reminds me that what we do
as Marines and the intangible rewards we get comes at a price.
Paul was the latest contributor. God Bless, my friend.
is an article with Paul’s picture.
-- CORPUS CHRISTI - Back in the mid 90's Captain Paul Alaniz
was a substitute teacher at Miller High School. The 32-year
old Marine was the co-pilot of that helicopter that crashed
Wednesday, during a sandstorm in Western Iraq.
chopper went down near a town called Rutbah, killing all 31
on board. The captain's family now lives in North Texas. Captain
Paul Alaniz has a big joy in life, simply spending time with
his 18-month-old baby girl, Yvette and his wife Thelma, also
a Marine. Captain Alaniz's brother Marc Pizano told 6News the
couple just got married before his deployment last August.
was his second deployment, so in between the first and second
he was spending a lot of time with family, using that time,
that quality time." said Pizano. His brother describes
Alaniz as a family man, who loved flying helicopters, similar
to this one, for the Marine Corps.
sent an e-mail right before he went out on a mission just basically
graduated high school in North Texas, near Amarillo. He eventually
made his way to Corpus Christi, enlisting in the Marines. Paul's
family is proud that he served his country but right now they're
just dealing with the pain of his loss.
just pretty much pulling together. We are here, supporting each
other, and you know we're getting through. We are getting a
lot of support from the community here." Funeral arrangements
for Captain Alaniz are still pending.
The Knotted Fallopian Tube Making the Skies Safe
up, I outbrief, and I’m out.
was the idea. We had spent a week at the depot giving classes
and implementing our new system to a very “like we’ve
always done it” environment and it was time to go home.
Although I’ve wanted to leave the depot more badly (badder?),
I was really looking forward to getting home this time.
first we had to give an outbrief to the LtCol and get the hell
outta Dodge. The man was very busy and we filed into his office
just as another group was leaving and I felt sorry for the man.
I mean it was Friday morning and we were his second (maybe 3rd
or 4th) brief before 0900. He looked like he was already shell
shocked from whatever he was already dealing with. Oh, well,
that's why he gets the silver oak leaf.
basically he wanted a thumbs up or a thumbs down. In the situations
we had dealt with the last few days, this was going to be impossible.
We didn’t deal with simple binary status reports and told
him a much of the truth as he would listen to:
system is up and usable…but…”
wasn’t too interested in “buts” so
we got in what we could, told him our concerns, and made our
way to the door. He thanked us and made sure we would be providing
follow up support to the depot as needed. Go back to San Diego
for a week here and there? I think I can swing that.
it was time for the Superman routine. I couldn’t outbrief
a LtCol in civies so now I was faced with having to change,
get on the road, return the rental car, get to the airport,
and catch a plane. There was no time to waste.
wasn’t like Kansas City where the Gunny and I changed
in the parking lot while on the lookout for any passersby who
would get a free show. Things were a little riskier on the depot
since it was more public, more regimented, more proper, and
downright more dangerous if caught. Maybe it was the recruit
still buried somewhere deep inside but stealth changeover in
semi-public wasn’t going to happen.
dashed into the gym and although they still made us sign in
(come on!!!!), we still made record time.
trip home was not as bad, although my negative pessimism almost
guaranteed a crappy seat. It was touch and go because this is
got to the airport and it was, of course, jam packed. The line
for Delta was wrapped around and I instantly regretted not checking
the bags at the curb. Amazingly, the phone banks were wide open
(why people don’t use these to check in, I don’t
know) and the Gunny and I picked up receivers next to each other.
was having trouble with his check-in but mine sailed straight
through. Standing there feeling very smug as Gunny struggled
with the person at the other end of the phone line, the airline
guy came out with my ticket and put the little tag on my bag.
I was all set to go. I think the term is "Na na na
check your ticket, Sir, they are telling me that the flight
out of Cincinnati was cancelled.”
called back to make sure and I discovered that they had changed
my second flight, putting me in at Dulles.
ain’t gonna work, Sparky, because my car is at National.”
this time, Gunny got a connecting flight in Houston and was
feeding me the information.
get me on flight xxxx leaving at xxxx and connecting with
because I was doing this idiot’s job for him, I got on
the same flight and I was happy that it was Continental. I hadn’t
flown Continental since I was a kid but I knew it had to be
better than Delta. Hell, riding piggyback on a flatulent giraffe
would be better than Delta.
next drama happened when we got flagged for inspection due to
our last minute flight change which, I will point out, was THEIR
fault and not a voluntary event and thus shouldn’t have
flagged us for detailed inspection.
is where Gunny's assholeism did some good for once. He told
the lady he was exempt to which I thought “Crap, here
we go again…”
tells her that active duty military are exempt from these inspections,
according to TSO regulation xxxx (and he actually knew the number
and the version date). Then the lady asked if he was on orders.
thought, criminy, Gunny we ARE on orders so why split hairs?
Sir, it does matter because the exemption applies to active
duty on orders only.”
according to the latest change dated (xxxxx), they changed
it to ALL active duty military on orders or not.”
lady walked over to the computer and after looking it up, sure
enough, Gunny was dead on. She exempted the both of us from
if you are keeping count, if left to my devices I would have
ended up in Dulles instead of National and would have received
the full latex glove treatment courtesy of my new best friends
at San Diego TSO department. Jooooy.
rest of the plane trip was uneventful and I was treated to 2
movies which were at least watchable. Taxi, starring
Queen Latifa and Jimmy Fallon made me chuckle and Without
A Paddle spoke to my teenage funny bone. Hey, it was a
total of 3 hours where I didn’t have to do anything but
stare. Don’t judge me!
Advice for Today:
someone you'd like to know better to list five people he
would most like to meet. It will tell you a lot about him."
not walk behind me, for I may not lead. Do not walk
ahead of me, for I may not follow. Do not walk beside
me, either, just leave me alone."
January 27, 2005
you are looking for the funny, you will not find one in the
following entry. What you will find is a serious moment at the
Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, California.)
took a walk through the depot. I doubt if I could explain this
adequately if you, the reader, have never been through bootcamp
but I will try.
went to my barracks.
this is going to be tough. You can’t fathom what that
means. It's not a fault of yours but simply a fact.
place was a womb. I went through a psychological reprogramming
here and while it was a daily dose of paralyzing horror, it
was also the only toe-hold of comfort in a place conspicuously
void of it.
was just a kid with a tender heart and thin skin. I had just
escaped from a high school experience that saw heartbreak, living
on my own, self-support, and lack of any parental guidance.
I did it and have always taken responsibility for it but they
allowed me to throw myself into the cold abyss of the raw world
I was not equipped to handle. It was so bad that Marine Corps
bootcamp seemed like a more stable environment, if that gives
you any indication.
entering the hallowed halls of the Marine Corps, I was already
walking a hair-thin mental tightrope. And that's when the real
will admit, I was a mental basket case through bootcamp. The
yelling and stress crashed into me and hit pay dirt every time.
I'd like to say that I got tougher because of it but I think
the result was delayed by years because I was comically destroyed
every minute up until graduation. It was all I could do to hide
it and get by. I left with my tail between my legs but I learned
how to hide that and perform. To tell the truth, I think that
is the intent since that is the recipe for surviving in combat.
squadbay is a sanctuary for me. And I'm not talking about a
place of comfort, I mean I revere the place like a holy shrine.
It was a place I transformed over a period of three months.
I shed tears in this place many nights. I scraped along the
very bottom of my existence here and was also propelled to my
loftiest heights (by any minute indication of success from the
DIs). I learned more about human nature in this place that my
6 years in college combined. I loved this place and hated it,
both with all my heart.
I walked into this place. A Captain.
one was occupying it so all it had was bare bunks. Everything
was stripped down which seemed proper because I saw it stripped
down and for what it was. But it was still my sanctuary.
was scared. A Captain has pretty much free reign over this base
and is a rank that strikes fear and respect in just about anyone
in the area. I could do no wrong here.
the skin of a Captain housed that scared private and I could
not shake that feeling that a DI would come stomping in and
hand me my ass. Logically, it made no sense. But I quivered
as I walked through.
was completely alone. I walked up and down the aisles, staying
only where the recruits were allowed to go. I found the approximate
spot where my bunk was and stood facing the center, like I was
ready for nightly inspection.
hands were shaking.
walked in silence, lightly touching the bunks, the walls. Remembering.
I got to the other end and made my way around the other side,
I approached the DI hut which has a window. But it has a one-way
mirror so the DIs can see out but the recruits can't see in.
I think this was new because I didn't remember it. But it stopped
me dead in my tracks because what I saw was a 36-year-old Captain
looking back at me. The uniform was modern. The Captain bars
shone. But the eyes...the eyes were the scared orbs of Recruit
Grose, Platoon 3075.
must have spent 45 minutes walking around an empty squadbay.
It was like visiting an old friend and it hurt me a little to
see that the place had fallen in disrepair. They were getting
it ready for the next platoon and it was a bit of a mess. But
like me, it had the basic characteristics of its former self,
almost 18 years ago.
walked into the duty hut and something changed. I had always
been so frightened to enter there and when I did today, I felt
more like a Captain. It was weird because I was a recruit out
in the squadbay and my "Captainess" came back to me
as I entered the DI hut. Because I had never associated that
room with Recruit Grose (we weren't allowed in and wouldn't
want to go it even if we could), I was "the Captain"
inside the hut.
spent time looking out the window, watching planes take off.
From the third deck, we had an unobstructed view of the runway
so we saw planes take off from left to right as though it was
a big movie. I watched like I had done so many nights while
waiting for my firewatch to end, dreaming of being on that Freedom
Bird some day.
the time grew short, I realized that I am a vastly different
man than I was back then. In many ways I'm the same but being
in that squadbay today made me realize that it was harder that
I realized to remember specific details and feelings I had way
back then. Oh sure, the big ones are easy but I don't recall
the introspection details; how specifically I felt, thought,
etc. To go back, I remember the general shape of my world but
the finer details have faded and been replaced with what I am
could revisit the sanctuary but not the recruit. I was a Captain
that is left are the over-arching, dulled, detailess emotions
of that time in my life: fear, accomplishment, despair and elation.
walked out of there thinking I had finally made peace with who
I was and who I am now. I thought it was all good. I thought
those ghosts just needed me to come, salute, and they would
be satisfied. I left happy and oddly at peace.
that day I found out the base will probably go away in 2010.
My sanctuary would be razed and gone forever.
I was at peace, this would not phase me. I made good and said
my goodbyes, right?
you don't like my driving, don't call anyone. Just take
another road. That's why the highway department made
so many of them."
January 26, 2005
was getting old. Much like Ground Hog’s Day, each class
seemed to morph into the next one until I felt compelled to
slit my own throat to experience the sweet release of death.
have a seizure just to have something to do. I considered complete
Grand Mal but then I’d have to deal with paramedics and
such so I decided to nix the idea.
people I was with might have raised eyebrows about now because
they did most of the teaching. I do have to admit that to be
true because I did the introduction (who we were, why we were
there) and then Eric would go into his hour + class on our system
while I would go to an open computer and look official. So my
whining about the repetitiveness of the classes is slightly
unfounded since Eric REALLY must have felt the pain, especially
with audience after audience of Drill Instructors.
know the following observation will be totally alien to anyone
who have endured the wrath of a Drill Instructor but I must
say it: I found that they were really calm, mellow, low-key
people when sitting in front of a computer. It may have had
something to do with the fact that they were likely dead tired
but I found the absurdity of a roomful of Marine Corps Drill
Instructors sitting in front of me, meek as schoolchildren on
the first day of school, intensely ironic.
I knew. I knew that at the drop of a hat (and before it hit
the ground), they could turn. And the aftermath would be as
ugly and sad as the fat girl at the prom. I knew they had the
potential to be the worst nightmare a human can have which made
it that much more surreal.
when they would call me “Sir” and defer
to me in mannerisms, it was full-on spooky weird.
night, I had to live through the Sushi ordeal.
Two nights ago, Gunny claims to have suffered through God
Fat. So tonight, it was necessary to go to neutral ground
and hit the Mexican restaurant in Old Town: Guadalupe’s.
The difference this time, at least for me, was that I was not
driving. And you know what that means: I don’t have to
it means I can drink until I vomit toenails.
eating here last trip, we were told that this place makes world-famous
margaritas. Well, I don’t know about the “world-famous”
part but as long as they didn’t make me retch (at least
not right away), I was game. Bring on the glass bowl of happiness!!!!
limited myself to one and it loosened me up a bit. I think that
it would have gone farther if the first couple of sips wouldn’t
have given me an icee headache so maybe that’s a good
thing. A drunk me out in public is only overshadowed by a hung
over Captain in the morning.
after punching the waiter in the face and tearing off my clothes,
running on all the tables singing La Vida Loca, I was
finally subdued by authorities. And I don’t even want
to go into where I found the after-dinner mints the next morning.
Advice for Today:
leaving to meet a flight, call the airline first to be sure
it's on time."
the cops arrest a mime, do they tell him he has the
right to remain silent?"
January 25, 2005
Bait Me, EVER!
how can you hate something you've never tried?"
never eaten a plate of shit, but I'm pretty clear in my mind
that it's not something I'm salivating over after a long day
around San Diego in a seemingly never-ending quest for a parking
space, I was not looking forward to this night. Everyone (defined
as the other three other than me) wanted sushi. I wanted that
delectable culinary treat called "Anything but sushi."
I'm a team player (and I was out-voted).
the moment I walked in, it smelled like a bait shop.
was an upscale, out-of-my-element, elegant place with cloth
tablecloths and the table setting aligned just so. I hated it
from the moment I walked in. But that's me. And that's SO me.
at he menu, the only thing that was non-sushi was chicken teriyaki
and fried rice. The rest was bait. Smelly bait.
tried to convince me that I would like at least some of the
sushi. Oh, silly, silly man. I told him over and over that I
didn't even liked COOKED fish. I also made a comment that I
would sooner cram sushi in a certain orifice of my body rather
than eat it. I think I adequately expressed my disdain. That
about covered it.
ended up ordering a plate of rice and while we were waiting,
I got a lesson in all things sushi. I was not impressed. Even
less so when the plate-o-bait arrived.
plate they brought out was colorful, I'll give it that. But
what created that color, therein lied the problem. Bright orange
mush that, I was told, was tiny eggs. Then there was a little
package of bigger eggs that actually looked like eggs. Like
the ones you put on a hook. I started whistling the theme to
the Andy Griffin show but found it difficult while dry heaving.
watched in horror as everyone ate the calamity that was this
meal. They seemed to enjoy it until Eric took a bite of eel.
Now, it seems a foregone conclusion that eel would taste like
feces. But I guess this was a particularly heinous example of
good old eel and Eric spewed out a contender for the "line
of the night":
part of the eel was that?"
immediately came back with "Eric, you are assuming
that one part of the eel is that much better than the other.
Does it really matter? It's freakin' eel, for crissakes! If
that was the butthole meat of the eel, is that any worse than
yes, I did immediately identify in my head that eels do not
have arms but I think he got the general outline of my point.
observation I had was that they had put a piece of tin foil
between two offerings on the plate. Here is the conversation
that came out of that:
"I notice there is a tin wall between those two."
Eric: "Oh, the eel is raw and the squid is cooked so
they keep them separate."
I came up with, in my humble opinion, took the trophy for lines
of the night:
because you wouldn't want your squid touching your eel. That
would be disgusting."
they ordered the sushi, they were given this sheet of paper
than had every disgusting wad of … pardon me…. Sushi.
They would mark off the number of each kind they wanted and
after they were done with this Bait-Keno, they handed it in.
I was a sushi virgin by design but Travis was relatively new
to the experience and wanted to know all about it. One of his
questions was how many of each you get for the price and the
answer was, it told you how many on the Keno sheet.
get two of these but if you order this one, you only get one…"
explained Gunny. Then I piped in with "The hammerhead
balls come in twos. Yeah, you get a pair of those. Yum."
couldn't help myself.
the, OK, we'll go with "meal," everyone explained
the different varieties of sushi. Eel, squid, crab, salmon,
Loch Ness, Mermaid breast milk, Ahab's taint, etc. I asked the
for dessert, the whale shit soufflé?"
I was unable to help myself.
actually filled up on the rice and since they didn't cook it
in fish oil or anything, I was adequately isolated from the
nasty fish taste. The smell, well, that couldn't be helped and
I just bided my time until this mess was over.
Gunny wanted seconds and it was all I could do to stop myself
from throttling him and yelling into his reddened face that
eating raw fish was not normal behavior. Instead I sat there
and continued to watch the spectacle, forcing down bile that
I still consider a better treat for my pallete than what I saw
on the table.
the bill came, Eric grabbed the check and paid it. Well if I
would've known that, I WOULD have gotten the chicken teriyaki.
Ugggg! Missed opportunity for free chow. I stand ashamed.
it was time to go, it had been time to go for awhile. Walking
out, I had a strange reaction to incoming patrons. For some
reason, I didn't want to be identified as one of them.
As one that did the whole "sushi" thing.
I didn't want them to think for even a moment that we shared
this cuisine defect.
all this began, I was for sure that I would be making a run
for the border (I meant Taco Bell but around here,
I guess it could have another meaning) later tonight. But after
leaving the, OK, we'll go with "restaurant"
instead of "bait shop," I realized I was
full. Not stuffed, like every other night for the last three
weeks, but comfortably full. I was a weird feeling and since
I had actually run the last two days, I thought a reduction
in the metric butt-tons of food I was consuming would be in
Advice for Today:
the knife in the jelly before putting it in the peanut butter
when you make a sandwich."
a turtle doesn't have a shell, is he homeless or naked?"
January 24, 2005
Of The Gods
can’t believe I had to force the Gunny to eat a Godfather’s
mean, it’s only the best pizza human beings have ever
devised as a result of millions of years of evolution. All our
crawling out of the primordial muck just for the making of this
delectable creation. But Gunny acted like I was dragging him
to a vat of monkey butt-fudge. Eventually he relented and I
had two Godfather’s Taco Pizza virgins in front of me.
Oh, what a treat they were about to enjoy. It was more than
he deserved, the blasphemous heathen.
didn’t bode well that the Godfather’s sign was burnt
out so to read “God Fat” but I didn’t
care; I could not exist within 10 square miles where there was
a Godfather’s Taco Pizza and fail to take advantage. I
would sooner pass up a Borders.
waiter arrived with the Holy Grail of pizzas as a small tear
ran down my cheek. “It’s just so…beautiful…”
Moments later, I dove in head first and wallowed around loudly,
laughing maniacally. When I was done, the fuzzy shapes that
were Eric and the Gunny came back into focus, all of us looking
at only a couple of pieces remaining.
was not impressed which led me to determine he simply has no
taste buds. Yep, must be a birth defect. Totally devoid of any
taste receptors. Poor bastard.
liked it but he’s known to be nice even when he’s
not thrilled. But this is my little world and so I’m making
it so Eric was overly excited, even to the point of questionable
propriety when he started mounting the pizza.
again, I ate until my distended gut creaked from the strain,
sounding like the ropes that hold a large ship. I sweat taco
sauce and I do believe that there were little chunks of beef
rolling through my veins. At some point that really sneaks up
on you, the pizza suddenly looks like the very last thing you
would ever want to put in your mouth. The very thought of placing
a piece of the pizza on your tongue is disturbingly similar
to doing the same with monkey butt-fudge.
we were done, and believe me, I was DONE, Eric and the Gunny
tipped me over and rolled me out of the restaurant much like
the girl who ate the full course meal-candy on Willy Wonka
and the Chocolate Factory.
again, I had partaken in the divinity that was Godfather’s
Taco Pizza. Gunny was not impressed so I had to sacrifice him
to the pizza gods. Eric was smart enough to at least act like
he liked it so I allowed him to live.
not mess with me and my taco pizza. You will live, at least
for a few moments, to regret it.
Advice for Today:
because you earn a decent wage, don't look down on those
who don't. To put things in perspective, consider what would
happen to the public good if you didn't do your job for
30 days. Then, consider the consequences if sanitation workers
didn't do their jobs for 30 days. Now, whose job is more
companies ship styrofoam, what do they pack it in?"
January 23, 2005
Back To Cali
the snow stopped and by the morning, the roads were clear. Not
that this would matter to the average Northern Virginia driver.
Der’s snow out der and I ain’t going over 10
had breakfast with my in-laws, one of the few meals I would
be able to share with them on this trip and keeping with the
“fill’er up until you want to retch before the big
planned plenty of time to get to the airport. In fact, after
coming up with the plan, for some reason we doubled it and called
it good. Because it was Sunday midday, the idiot population
was at its normal low and then you add in that it was cold and
the normal amount of idiots present was even lower. The roads
were dry so the sum result of these conditions meant we got
to the airport in record time. Just enough time to have 2 extra
hours to do nothing.
did have time to people watch and I determined that civilian
pilots look like dopey simpletons. This scared me because they
are the ones that are in control of the massive metal tube hurling
through the air, fighting to overcome the effects of gravity
and are the only thing between getting to my destination and
smashing into the ground in a ball of flame.
looking at these people and noticing that they looked pretty
goofy kind of increased the pucker factor. But when you think
about it, it’s a pretty boring job. You get the bird in
the air and then go through checklists to make sure the whole
ball-o-flame thing doesn’t happen. Then it’s auto-pilot
until you get near your destination and then do the landing
thing (I hope they have better titles for these chapters at
pilot school). So the only thing that you are really good at,
or at least I hope you would be good at, is what to do if stuff
goes into the “bad day” category. Pilots are good
at stuff they hope never to test.
had a positive outlook. I really did. I was not sick, I was
going to San Diego when all of Virginia was under a blanket
of snow and getting buffeted by freezing wind. So all was well,
first question to Gunny was if he reserved an aisle or window
seat. I didn’t care which but after my last trip to San
Diego when I was lodged between mountains of human fat, I wanted
to make sure I had an end seat. He assured me he requested it
so imagine my surprise when I came down the aisle and saw my
“B” seat was, in fact, a middle seat. “B”
tried not to get irate about it, keeping in mind the flight
was only 1 ½ hours. I could live with it but the fact
that he had requested an aisle seat and actual received a middle
seat, it did not give me a warm and fuzzy about the 4 hour leg
from Atlanta to San Diego (yes, thank you Delta for making me
go for 1 ½ hours perpendicular to my actual intended
course). To make matters worse, my “boarding pass”
from Atlanta was not even a boarding pass. I don’t count
passes that say “Request Seat” as a “boarding
enough, it was worse than I could have imagined. I did have
a middle seat. And not just any middle seat. It was the WORST
middle seat you can actually get. Why, you ask? Why, let me
only was it a middle seat but it happened to be in the row directly
in front of the exit seat row. This means, for those that aren’t
retracted in horror like all the frequent flyers, means that
my seat does not recline at all. I know that even on a good
day, those seats only go back an inch or two but try NOT pushing
it back for 4 hours and you’ll see that even that small
recline is important.
middle seat. Middle seat that doesn’t recline. Oh, but
few inches that my seat did not recline seemed to be donated
to the seat in front of me. This guy could almost lay horizontal
which for me, meant that I could have kissed the top of his
head if I wanted. This is NOT an exaggeration, my lips could
have touched his head if I leaned my head forward a couple of
I was in a reading position where I really couldn’t move.
If I opened my book, looked down, I had a straight line down
to the text and I had no other lines of sight. So I could lose
myself in my book, trying to ignore that my back and gut was
starting to hurt just because of the Catholic nun-enforced posture
I was forced to maintain.
opened my book and it took about 2 minutes to realize that the
book I was reading would be on my top 5 all time worst reads.
The Catcher in the Rye was really a painful experience
and it only seemed right to having it on this flight under these
conditions. I had read a little over half of it and was not
impressed but this day, its shitiness just laid on top of the
steaming pile that was this plane ride.
good, they are offering a movie, I thought. I was cramping by
now and the book was making me yearn for the days when I didn’t
know how to read. I thought I would be getting over on all this
bad karma because I remembered to bring the adaptor that lets
me listen to the dual plug-in Delta has for their planes. Take
I plugged it in and settled back for the in flight movie. The
screen was tiny and far away but I was taking anything they
were going to give me.
so I thought until I was exposed to Sky Captain and the
World of Tomorrow. Now I really shouldn’t bash this
since I didn’t see the whole thing but the depth of assedness
this movie represented in the first 10 minutes, I think I got
the general gist.
movie SUCKED. I mean sucked monumentally. All the other really
really bad movies got together and watched this and determined
that it made them sterile.
you on the same page with me here? Middle seat, no recline,
balding idiot in my face, bad book, and worse movie. And taking
all of that into consideration, just take a moment and imagine
how bad this movie would have to be if I voluntarily removed
my headset and went back to reading the bad book.
this nightmare ended, I couldn’t even make a clean getaway.
Because I forgot to inform you that the beginning of this calamity
started when all the overhead bins were full by the time old
“Zone 7” Jason got to board. So I had to go back
a half-dozen rows to stow my backpack. Therefore when it was
time to leave, I had to salmon my way back to get it and the
sum total of people willing to let me go back when they were
going forward was hovering somewhere near “Where the
f#$%#$ are you going?”
I finally made it to the back and recovered my bag, debarked
the plane (“Thank you, fly with us again…”),
I came into the terminal in less than a stellar mood. Gunny
was giving me a curious look since we were in the same row (he
in the other lottery seat on the other side) and it took me
so much longer to get off the plane. I gave him my patented
“Don’t even think about F$%^%^ with me”
look and that was that.
found Eric, who had taken another flight, and then it all started
to get weird. I had just gone through this whole process at
the same airport a couple of weeks ago and I had to finally
stop myself from repeating “When I was here two weeks
ago…” and then blabber on about what I did.
I realized it was annoying, likely many minutes after everyone
got the rental car and decided it would be least painful to
get In&Out (sorry, Honey) and call it a night.
I went back to the hotel and watched TV for the rest of the
night. After the day I had, it was the best of all worlds: just
leave me alone and let me deflate. I will be back to human tomorrow.
Advice for Today:
twice before deciding not to charge for your work. People
often don't value what they don't pay for."
I DO NOT HAVE A SOLUTION, I ADMIRE YOUR PROBLEM."
January 22, 2005
felt good to sleep in my own bed and I had nothing to do in
the morning but attempt to stay there as long as I could before
Nature made it impossible to get back to sleep.
was supposed to snow all day starting at 0800 but 0800 came
and went without as much as a flurry. That’s not to say
it wasn’t cold enough to freeze the Devil’s ass
solid, a fact I verified by going out to get the morning paper.
The whole bathrobe and slippers thing was not the greatest idea,
was really only one thing on the agenda for the day and that
was picking up the in-laws at the airport, if their plane was
not cancelled. This whole area has been bracing for a big winter
wallop that, according to local reaction, should result in the
entire Northern Virginia area imploding and ceasing to exist.
at about 1:00 PM, the snow started coming down in big, fat flakes.
The kind that fall slowly and are about the size of small birds.
The implosion was beginning.
weather-obsessed boy was spending the night at a friend’s
house so his original disappointment of not seeing a blanket
of snow fall from the sky first thing in the morning was probably
turning to ecstasy when these mutant snowflakes started invading.
the time it was time to leave, my world was white. Carrie was
freaking out because she was afraid the flight would be delayed
or that the roads would make the trip to the airport next to
impossible. So naturally, I introduced more stress by insisting
I get a haircut before we go. I realized late in the morning
that I would not get another chance today, maybe snowed in tomorrow,
and was teaching first thing Monday morning.
called the barber shop just to find out if they were open, seeing
how the radio was telling everyone to repent because the end
was near and most businesses were closing up as a result of
the Cataclysm. The barber shop, made up of tiny Asian women
with old school work ethics, told me they were open and they’d
be open for the normal work hours. This didn’t surprise
me and I figured they’d probably stay the night at the
shop if the snow got too bad. And by their standards, “too
bad” would have to consist of them not being able to open
their front door.
wanted to take care of a few other house-straightening things
so my little surprise threw a kink in her plans when we had
to leave early. She wasn’t too happy about this set of
events but we left and headed toward the barber shop, driving
like a blind old lady on her way to church.
beloved Trucky Truckasaurus is a great vehicle. But as far as
snow goes, it really exists in the “suck” category
and tends to be left to shiver at the house. Its light back
end combined with 2 wheel drive make it a bad choice for slippery
roads. Instead, the sporty little Saturn gets the nod and we
take it out during inclement weather. It made it fine to the
barber shop and Carrie initially wanted to wait in the car while
I got my haircut but after awhile, she came in to the waiting
new barber shop is suffering from success. Word has gotten out
that they do a really good job and combined with the head massage
and hot-towel treatment, the wait has because excruciating.
Today, I was treated to a small boy who found a very loud toy
in the waiting room and decided it was necessary to pull the
little trigger (which spun the damn thing and made it whistle)
for approximately… forever.
my cut, we headed out to the airport and the adventure that
is driving in the snow.
the first half of the ride, there was a lot of different conditions.
There was a blanket of snow, there was packed snow, and there
was a slush combo of dirt and snow a couple of inches thick.
These road treats made the speed about 45 MPH max but on the
upshot, there were very few cars on the road.
way there, two things changed. First, the roads were cleared
of snow so in effect, it was just wet roads. Second, someone
raised the gate to the idiot farm and all the occupants drained
out onto the roads. Come on people, at this point it’s
nothing but WET roads. No snow, no ice, no slush, not even accidents
on the side of the road. Just water. So why are we going 25
the law would have allowed, there would have been many burning
hulks along I-95 and I-395 today. It was not the weather that
was going to make us late, it was the imbeciles.
barely made it to the airport on time and picked up the in-laws
coming in from Seattle. On the way home, we had to pick up Alex
at his friend’s house which meant that I was driving,
Lyle was in the front passenger seat, Carrie, her mom, and Alex
were in the back with Stephanie laying across all of them. Not
exactly the safest of all situations but a bit safer than taking
Truckasaurus out for a slide along the interstate. But even
this was dicey when we the wipers froze and the disgusting road
spray put a white haze across the windshield.
a Y-chromosome, I didn’t want to stop to clean it up which
in turn caused Carrie to keep her anger in check. We made it
home but the truth be told, I was almost completely blind at
certain spots but I assured Carrie that since I take this road
home every day, I could do it blind. But I never thought I’d
have to test that theory.
round out the night, we watched the first two episodes of American
Idol. I don’t normally follow this stupid competition
but I do find the first few episodes humorous since all the
bad singers come out to howl. This season was no different as
I smugly sat there with unbelieving eyes and ears at what delusional
people think pass as talent. It was both horrible and impressive
with its sheer ghastliness.
ONE EVER PAYS TO SEE THE JUGGLER JUGGLE ONE BALL."
January 21, 2005
Hooky Or Not To Hooky, That is The Question
had a choice today: to go to work or not to go to work. Here
was my logic:
to work, you idiot:
- You have been out of the office for 2 weeks
- It’s a regular work day
- The last time you took a “meritorious” day off,
you got your naughty bits slapped
home, what are you, a moron?
- You have been on the road for 2 weeks
- It’s Friday
- You are leaving on Sunday for another week
two morality plays unfolded but in the end, I went into work.
I thought I should try to catch up on some work and whittle
down the mountain of back-work. It occurred to me that this
is one of the major differences of being a young enlisted Marine
and an Officer: as enlisted, when I would leave for any amount
of time, the amount of work when I left was the same as when
I returned. I was a worker who processed repairs on avionic
equipment and if I wasn’t there to do it, someone else
would, and there would be others coming down the assembly line.
an Officer, my work is all mine and it just piles up to gleefully
greet me when I return from any absence. This is also why Officers
usually have massive amounts of vacation time on the books and
even end up losing some every fiscal year. It’s just not
worth the pain to go away, knowing what will back up (much like
a clogged toilet).
I went in to my little cage and filled out travel claims, filled
out my fitness report draft since my boss is getting out of
the Marine Corps, and caught up on the approximately infinity
squared emails that was crushing my inbox.
as happens every once in awhile, I figured out what was the
deciding factor of coming in today. It’s simple really
and not listed above.
a geek stuck in a brick building, watching over an training
tracking system with a bunch of civilians. Some of my Marine
counterparts are strapping on body armor, stowing a lot of ammunition
on their person, and going on patrols in Iraq while hoping that
they and their Marines come back with the same amount of holes
in them as when they left.
coming in to work was not so tough.
Advice for Today:
whatever kids are selling on card tables in their front
Marty with me this time, I thought it would be neat to introduce
them since they had in common a history of being a Drill Instructor.
I explained to Marty what Top meant to me and he was glad to
come along and have lunch with us. Plus I needed the ride. <sheepish
idea was to have Chinese food since we had covered all the other
nationalities in the last few days and I was hankering for some
lo mien. How one “hankers” I’m not quite sure
but I think it’s pretty close to “having a durn
tootin’ desire fur.” (Note: we are in North Carolina.)
had just the place to take us to and when we pulled up, it was
a Polynesian place. I thought to myself, “Polynesian?
What the hell?”
Top’s thoughts interrupted, saying “Shut up
der you. Jus’ stop runnin’ you suck and get inside.”
sign did say “Polynesian” but I’d be hard
pressed to tell the difference between Chinese food and the
buffet they were offering this day. And it became evident that
Top was a regular because he was welcomed by the owner and his
usual server who he showered compliments over. The food, from
what I remember, fit the bill and was actually pretty good.
My Little Buddha was happy with it.
this may come as a surprise to you but I ran my mouth throughout
the entire meal, hardly stopping to even eat. With Marty there,
I was able to recount many of the bootcamp stories involving
Top who sat there with a big grin, obviously reliving the glory
days as a Drill Instructor. I made sure I pointed out the lessons
I took from each story and made it clear how much he had affected
me throughout my entire career.
was one of the best lunches I can remember and one that I vaguely
recall tasting anything.
told me he is looking into becoming a counselor for returning
Marines who had seen battle. As a career Marine and a DI, he
is ideally suited for such a task and it would keep him connected
to the Marine Corps; an organization he dedicated his life to
and even has a son serving in now.
of his son, Sergio Jr.
was promoted to Sergeant and is looking at becoming a Drill
Instructor himself. He plans on applying in a few years and
this thought kicked off an interesting scenario. I have a 13-year-old
son who might be going to bootcamp in 5 years or so, if
that’s what he decides to do. If Sergio Jr. happens to
follow through with his Drill Instructor intentions, there is
a possibility that my son will have my Drill Instructor’s
son as his own Drill Instructor. Alex and I would each have
our own “Drill Instructor Staff Sergeant Garcia.”
would be really, REALLY weird.
lunch we returned to the motel and I got a few pictures
with Top. I wanted
to give him a coin that I recently bought at MCRD (where it
all started.) The coin had Captain’s bars on one side
and the Marine Corps Seal on the other side and I wanted to
give it to him as a reminder of what he created and how much
I appreciated it.
rest of the day, I was on air. It’s just something about
closing a loop and checking back with those that started you
on your path. I felt good to check in with Top and let him know
I was doing OK.
was also a great day because I got to go home. The drive home
was long (as it always is) but I was a passenger and my only
responsibility was to sit there and breathe. I couldn’t
fumble that one and I’m proud to say that I was a raging
success. I hardly forgot to breathe more than twice.
did not want to get up this morning. I know this shocks you
but I was working the old 9 minute snooze button like a champ
until I couldn't justify staying in bed one moment longer. Then
I hit it one more time.
like always, I was in crisis mode getting ready and couldn't
remember if we agreed to meet at 0700 or 0715. I was kinda hoping
for 0715 because I had waited so long to get up but at 0700
on the button, there was a knock at my door. Damn ex-Drill Instructors
with their precision timing.
got Marty to give me a few more minutes (invoking the "dumb
Captain" defense) and rushed to finish up and get out the
door. When I did, I was greeted with the coldest morning yet.
I think I frozen tear fell down my raw cheek.
one showed up for the first class so I spent the morning writing
emails and surfing the net while trying to ignore the conversation
that was going on in the room between Marty and a Master Sergeant
who was.....very opinionated. I will not go into detail but
he had opinions on everything and was not shy about expressing
them. I couldn't tell if Marty was putting up with it out of
a sheer boredom or if he was enjoying the conversation. I tuned
it out and let myself get sucked into the computer in front
lunch we went to mainside and hit the food court. I chose the
sandwich shop with the Robin Hood theme (eating the actual "Robin
Hood") while Marty opted for the Anthony's Pizza. Health
food at its finest.
at a grunt base, I notice that as a Captain, I tend to be the
most senior guy around. It's weird to see all the young Marines
and see how young they really are (yet another indication of
how old I'm getting). Two Lieutenants at the next table didn't
look any older than my 12-year-old son. I was shocked and I
think I broke a hip.
finished eating and went wandering through the PX since we had
nothing to do until 1300. And since I had been freezing all
morning and didn't see any relief in sight, I decided to buy
a green Marine Corps sweatshirt I could wear underneath my uniform.
With snivel-gear in place, I was more comfortable and didn't
walk around anymore all stiff-looking, trying not to let my
skin touch my uniform for fear of instant freezer burn. Yes,
I was adequately comforted in Snivel-Con 3.
actually had students show up for the afternoon class so actually
had to, you know, teach. The class went well and I think both
Marty and I are more and more comfortable with the system since
we are teaching the same classes over and over, tweaking our
presentation based on the feedback from the students. We tend
to head off questions before they are asked so are met with
a roaring silence at the end of the presentation. Or maybe we're
just boring the Hell out of everyone. Either or.
was inexplicitly tired. Pitiful, I know since all I'm been doing
is eating and sleeping but the fact remained, I was tired. After
the last class, all I wanted to do was get back to the room
and take a cat nap (meow). But we had been requested to go over
to the Field Medical School office and help one of the Petty
Officers. When we got over there, she was not there and had
to wait for her to get through teaching a class and return.
No big deal except that I was tired (yes, I know, I know...pitiful)
and wanted to get this over with.
name, and I'm not making this up, was Petty Officer Crazy Bear.
I wouldn't have believed it if I didn't actually see it sewn
on her uniform but that was the name. Wow. And I thought "Grose"
was an easy target.
we finished and got back to the room, we had about an hour and
15 minutes so I got undressed and .... crashed. I told Marty
we would meet up at 6:00 to eat and when I looked up, it was
6:01. Twice in a day I was late.
What the hell?
didn't care what we ate and since I have been a consumption
whore-pig the last few weeks, I thought we could do something
light. Yeah, right. Marty wanted steak so we ended up at Outback.
are probably a hundred entries in this blog covering the bad
service I tend to draw. I'm almost become famous for it. So
when events unfolded tonight, I almost felt guilty that I didn't
warn Marty of my penchant for attracting the worst service imaginable.
were sat at a little table which shared a bench across an entire
wall. There were people seated on both sides of us and when
we were led to the table, I thought about offering the bench
to Marty and taking the chair in the aisle. But because I'm
a selfish bastard whore-pig, I slid right into the bench seat,
leaving Marty in the aisle.
we sat down and opened the menu, a waitress dropped a bottle
or something of hot sauce and some kind of galactic alignment
happened that scientists should study which resulted in an amazing
eruption of sauce. It came down like rain in huge droplets.
over our table. All over my sweatshirt. All over Marty and his
suede leather jacket.
a second, we just sat there and wondered what the hell had just
happened. I had even felt a huge drop fall on my head. The couple
seated behind Marty, across the aisle, was looking at us with
huge eyes and pointed out that it was all over Marty's back.
I got up and used my cloth napkin to dab the sauce off his back
with was splattered with the sauce.
was incredible, like a hot sauce grenade that launched sauce
shrapnel all over us and our table.
came the apologies. One by one we got visits by the busboy,
the waitress that dropped the bomb, from our own waitress, from
the manager. At this point, I thought we'd get a comped meal
as we used a half dozen napkins to get everything clean. Marty
was not too happy about his jacket and the manager took our
names and addresses, telling us to send them the bill for any
dry-cleaning that was required.
I could have got all upset over this but in reality, I knew
I was a lightning rod for this kind of supernatural service
event so I was not all that shocked. Plus, I was wearing an
old sweatshirt and jeans. Nothing that I couldn't wash and it
wasn't like I had a tux on or anything. Marty had a legitimate
gripe and will get his jacket cleaned but overall, it was no
big deal; more humorous than anything. Even when they didn't
offer to comp anything, I was not outraged because in reality,
all that happened is that I got a little sauce on me and they
offered to make good on that.
rest of the meal was uneventful (I had the ribeye, if you must
know) and we left after another round of visits-O-sorrow from
half the employees.
I got away with a full gut and a crunchy spot in my hair. Yet
another link in the Chain of Unfortunate Events that are my
dining experiences. I expect nothing less and tip my hat to
this latest variation on a theme.
Advice for Today:
you complete a course, shake the instructor's hand and thank
him or her."
you must choose between two evils, pick the one you've
never tried before."
January 18, 2005
Difficulties and Seymon Clan
River in the morning was like the arctic. OK, maybe not that
cold but cold enough to convince me that I despise being cold.
Walking out of my room, the wind hit me and there was no doubt
that today I would come face to face with the Cold Monster.
I hate that bastard.
Marty and getting in his new truck, I couldn’t wait for
the heat to kick in and it occurred to me that I had really
become sensitive to discomfort. Nobody LIKES being uncomfortable
but since when have I become downright prissy about it?
battle the cold, my mind fell to coffee; the sweet Brew of Life.
Am I addicted to coffee? Of course not. GIVE ME BACK MY MUG!!!!!!
A-hem, I mean at least not physically. But on a cold morning,
a nice steaming cup of coffee was first in my mind. Followed
closely by sharing a hottub with Eva Langoria but that's another
story we don't have to get into here .
felt bad because I had to depend on Marty to get the coffee.
I was in uniform so couldn’t go into the store to get
my own coffee. This also happened in San Diego last week with
Travis and both times, I said the same thing:
me a great big handful of sugar” and even emphasized
it by holding my hand up like a big claw.
brought me back 4 sugars.
can’t complain because he DID go in and he DID get me
coffee….but… I NEED SUGAR. LIKE INSTA-DIABETES AMOUNTS!!!
I’m not addicted. I'm not. (Fingers in ears... "La
la la la la....")
got onto Camp Johnson (a name that my 10-year-old mature mind
still giggles at) at it was the first time in a year since I
had been here. I taught a class last year at the Instruction
Management School but before that, I had left here a 2nd Lieutenant
fresh from Adjutant School after a lonely couple of months away
from my family which started 6 months before when I went to
TBS. So for the second week in a row, it was a sort of a homecoming,
although this one was not as fun as last week at San Diego.
It was Lejeune, aftr all. Let's not get carried away, folks.
class started at 0800 and to my surprise, it was jam-packed.
Almost every seat was filled and as a special bonus, the instructor’s
computer was in-op. So the main computer that we were supposed
to use, the one hooked up to the projector, yeah, it was down!!!
up on the Murphy’s Law parade was the site we were supposed
to use to teach the class was down. We were going to use a server
to show our system but the server, located in Virginia, was
class. Main computer down. Server we would use, down.
made a very quick phonecall to the civilian contractor back
in Quantico. He was sending someone to restart the server (yes,
this still fixed 90% of all computer problems at all levels).
did a little song and dance to buy time (not really because
I can’t sing, nor can I dance. Well, I may be able to
dance a little but not in a way that would entertain a roomful
of Marines) and after 20 minutes, we got both problems fixed
and started the class.
something just inherently intimidating about giving a class
at the Instruction Management School. I have never taken the
course but have never had a problem with public speaking. But
standing there in front of people who are going through the
course or what’s worse, the instructors that teach Marines
how to teach, the pucker factor rises just a bit.
way these classes go is that I introduce our system, give some
background, and describe what we intend to do. Then I introduce
Marty, the expert, and he walks everyone through the system
as I perform mousing duties that are projected on each screen
and then we then answer the inevitable questions together. We
work together well (Granted, Marty's blog would likely take
a differing view to the effect of the Captain losing the audience
from the get-go by babbling incessantly to the point of audience-coma).
We did the same thing last week with Travis but that was in
(at first rainy but after 2 days) sunny San Diego. Teaching
here in an ice cube is a cause for my Whine-Meter to peg out.
lunch, Marty knew of a little sandwich shop so we went there
and wolfed down some chow. Fighting the cold (and when I say
“fighting” I mean rushing from warm building
to warm truck and into another warm building), we agreed that
just when we thought this place couldn’t suck any more,
we were proven wrong.
afternoon class was just as full as the morning class which
was surprising since the turn out in San Diego was lacking.
Add to this that there was a Lieutenant Colonel but it turned
out the Colonel was very interested in our system and had a
general acceptance to what we were teaching. This was good because
when the pappa bear is happy, the cubs are cooperative.
I left home, I sent out two emails. One was to a former Sergeant
I knew who is now a 1st Sergeant. The other one was my Drill
Instructor who retired here and runs a motel in town. Both of
them called me today and left messages on my cell phone as I
made plans with Mark, the First Sergeant, for him to pick me
up at the PX at 1630 so I could have dinner with his family.
Our class ran long and I was a little late so after going back
to New River to change over, I called Mark at exactly 4:30 and
the First Sergeant chastised the Captain because he had just
pulled into the PX parking lot and I was 25 minutes away. Oops.
I said, Mark was a Sergeant when I was a young enlisted Marine
in Yuma, working on avionic equipment for Harriers. We had been
good friends as were our families, although Carrie and I had
no kids at the time. I had seen him a few times over the years
and we had been in contact sporadically.
best one I ever pulled on him was when I was a newly minted
2nd Lieuteant and I called his place of work out of the blue.
His Corporal answered and I asked for “Staff Sergeant
have a Gunny Seymon…”
must of got promoted.
I speak with him?”
he’s in a CPR class. Can I take a message?”
him a very pissed off Lieutenant wants to speak at him as
soon as possible.”
left my number and hung up the phone. About an hour later, my
phone rings and it’s Mark.
this is Gunny Seymon. I got a message you wanted me to call,
that he’d recognize my voice, I blurted out “Well,
Gunnery Sergeant, then I suggest you put a little more respect
in your voice when speaking with a superior commissioned officer!”
Sir, I really don’t know what this is about, I was told
then Mark, I guess you can just call me ‘Jason’
then. Ha, ha ha ha ha ha ……”
son-of-a-bitch!!!! You almost gave my poor Corporal a heart
attack. He thought his Gunny was going to the brig!!!”
he picked me up and drove me to his house to have dinner. His
three daughters were teens now and I bored them all with stories
of when we all lived in Yuma and Ashley,
the oldest, was a toddler and like a daughter to Carrie and
had spaghetti which was a wonderful change to the restaurant
food I’ve been eating for a week and the conversation
was good as I entertained the girls with stories about their
parents from way back when.
used to have a Doberman and it was even more spastic than Buster,
if that’s possible. She died a few years ago after getting
fat and calming down (two things I would never have imagined
this dog doing and also two things I’m fighting with myself)
so it was a surprise that they had a new addition to their family.
They had a new boxer
puppy that was part rabbit, as indicated by the jumping.
But the little guy didn’t quite have the grace needed
and ended up flopping around like a beheaded pig.
as big and tough as Mark
likes to think his 1st Sgt ass, he had minimal control over
the spazatroid. Kind of like when I was a Lance Corporal.
clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory."
January 17, 2005
the "Ton" in Gluttony
should be grateful that I got the weekend with my family. But
being the selfish bastard that I am, I begrudge the travel gods
for making go to Lejeune between week-long trips to San Diego.
But the gods do not care about begrudging. In fact, I think
they like it. "Begrudge away, you whiny schmuck!!!"
least I didn't have to fly this time; I rode with one of the
contractors who used to be a Master Sergeant and DI. So we had
a lot to talk about and I've always got along with Marty. Before
he retired, he held the position that my current Gunny does
now so I have two resident experts and on top of that, Marty
is now the guru of the new system. This enables me to be the
stupid Captain nodding his head knowingly.
drive to Lejeune took about 5 hours and was uneventful and comfortable
as a result of Marty having a brand new truck. I was in bucket-seat
paradise. I think Truckasaurus won't be talking to me when I
get home. He gets that way sometimes.
the time we got to Jacksonville, it was dinner time and Marty
suggested we do Golden Corral. I thought it was just a Denny's-style
place but I soon learned how wrong I was. It ens up that Golden
Corral did me instead.
pay one piece (about $9) for all the food you can cram down
your gullet. And another factoid that I soon learned: Golden
Corral has more food than humans should have access to for a
single meal. For 10 meals.
wanted to be good. I really did. But there was temptation everywhere
in mass quantities. So I summoned all my discipline, wadded
it up in a small ball resembling a raisin, and buried it in
a clump of mashed potatoes and gravy.
was an epic battle as I piled mounds of nastiness on the plate.
Spoonful after forkful, I the Gluttony God attacked until all
that was left was a heaping pile of remains and tears streaming
down my flushed cheeks.
course I had to go back and get one more plate full just to
take a couple of bites and leave. It’s one of many personality
flaws I have that I must eek out every consumption at an all-you-can-cram
restaurant to the point of leaving food on the table. I am not
proud of this. (OK, maybe I am, just a little).
was paid back by the Man Upstairs for this as we got to the
hotel. In my rush to grab all of my stuff out of the truck,
I crammed all the remaining newspapers I intended to read on
this trip into my backpack which I couldn’t shut. So I
left it unzipped as the newspapers stuck way out of the bag.
Walking in the cold night toward the check in lobby, I heard
a ripping sound that initially confused me. This is not an entirely
new situation but it suddenly came to me what it was. It was
too late. It was my bag's zipper, ... unzipping. I had about
3 seconds and at the 3 ½ second mark, I tried to swing
the bag off my back to make a saving play.
result: two Sunday papers and a Saturday paper, ads and all,
came splaying out of my bag along with all the other contents.
Real impressive right in front of Marty and a particulary convenient
time; in the cold, cold parking lot after a long day of travelling.
Good thing the Officer isn’t looking like a total buffoon
at this moment.
spent the rest of the night at the New River Officers Quarters
reading my papers and wondering how I can lose so much control
when faced with unlimited food.
I should just have my stomach stapled in half. I wonder if the
Swingline is up to the task.
Advice for Today:
to your favorite music while working on your tax return."
Another offering from the Anus of Satan. The harddrive was dead
so I'm sending it back which also means I will not have it for
my trip to San Diego next week. I picked a bad week to stop
was still terribly sick so I decided to take care of breakfast.
No problem, I know just how to do everything and I had the kids
to guide me through anything I had forgotten. I was ready; just
get out everything and go to work. No problem.
all times to pick to do this, it was categorically the worst
choice because we had no supplies. We were out of Bisquick.
We were out of bacon. We were out of orange juice. We were out
thanks for volunteering to make breakfast. Here is a shopping
list you need. Thanks.”
fine, so I’m going to the store. No big deal.
wants to go with me?”
silence and blank looks from both kids. But Buster was raring
to go which he indicated by jumping up at me and nailing me
in the stones. Attaboy, Buster, I expected nothing less.
Buster and I it was as I limped out to Truckasaurus. When I
opened the door and ordered Buster to get in, he jumped up but
because the 3/4 front passenger seat was folded forward, he
jumped on its back and hopped in the back.
got in and pushed the seat back and started driving out of the
neighborhood. After less than a minute, this thought occurred
know what, I feel like a damn chauffeur for my stupid dog
who is sitting in the back seat like the Queen of England.”
I snapped my fingered and told him to hop forward into the front
couple of things happened at this point. Buster leaped, or I
should say “tried” to leap forward. Considering
Buster has the grace of a three-legged deer, the move was not
all that successful. I think his little dog-mind believed that
the seat was a solid, steady object. What he soon learned was
that the locking mechanism doesn’t work and the seat just
flops forward if you push on it.
to this little scenario that I was stopping at a stop sign so
all his momentum was thrown forward at the critical moment he
hit the back of the seat and you get the beginning of a very
bad ride for dog and master.
back legs caught the seat which immediately flopped forward
with his weight and newly introduced momentum of me stopping.
His front paws slammed into the dash and he was propelled forward.
If it would have stopped here, the only damage would have been
to old Buster’s nerve and to what microscopic ego he possesses.
the ending to this story, if you have not guessed, is that the
rock-hard boulder that is Buster’s head slammed into the
windshield. Now I have to assume the 13-year-old windshield,
full of small chips, and the cold morning had something to do
with it but more likely, it was a 60-lb body behind a granite-like
dog-noggin that caused my windshield to shatter.
really was not going that fast and I knew that Buster was most-likely
not hurt. But he was frozen there, dog-head under glass, as
I pulled him back. Maintaining the Buster-theme, he was scared
that he did something wrong when I yelled out his name. I guess
the whole flying dog and shattering windshield thing made me
lose my bearing for a second. But I quickly recovered and pulled
him back, assuring him it was OK.
say the windshield was shattered but I guess I should point
out that the spiderweb was about 10 inches in diameter, in the
middle of the windshield. Just enough to make Truckasaurus look
even more like Sandford & Son. And since we dropped full
coverage on Truckasaurus a long time ago, the burdon of cost
will be on us to the tune of a few hundred bones. And not the
kind of bones I could eek out of Buster for payment but real
American money-type bones. Thanks Buster, old buddy.
immediately called Carrie and tried to get to the meat of the
story before she thought I was in a major accident. I discovered
this is almost impossible. How do you tell this story without
making it sound, at least initially, that there’s been
a big accident. If there is a way, I didn’t find it and
scared my poor wife until I could explain.
Carrie was not sick (she would have gone to the store as usual)
I would have taken the car instead of Truckasaurus
either one of the kids would have wanted to go to the store
(providing weight against the seat preventing the flop)
I had not taken Buster with me
I wouldn't have left the seat flopped forward last night (Buster
wouldn't have jumped in the back)
the windshield was not old, chipped, or cold
Buster wouldn't have chosen to jump at that moment (OK, if
I wouldn't have summoned him...)
the front seat latch worked so it didn't flop
any of these would have happened or not happened, I wouldn't
have a cracked windshield. They all had to happen just perfectly
for shatterville. How beautifully perfect this all had to line
got home and made breakfast for the kids while Carrie wallowed
upstairs in her sickbed. Well, that’s the way it should
have happened but to tell the truth, Carrie couldn’t stand
it and got up to make the breakfast. I tried, not too hard,
to get her to relax but she insisted.
I did succeed in doing was taking the kids to see the SpongeBob
SquarePants movie at the base. The kids had seen it but since
it was playing at the base theater, they wanted to see it again
and for a buck, why not.
it’s SpongeBob. Didn’t you catch that?
a couple of quick facts I found out. The guy who does SpongeBob’s
voice is the same guy who does Dog in the CatDog cartoons. If
you don’t know what that is, never mind.
interestingly, the voice of Patrick Starr was the guy who played
Dauber on Coach. Once you know this, it makes sense.
voice of Mr. Crabb is the hardcore guard on the Shawshank
voices were provided by Biff from Back To The Future.
other thing I noticed is that most of the people that provided
voices have done a lot of other voices on a lot of other cartoons.
It seems like a small population.
rest of the night was spent packing for Lejeune. Yes, I printed
out my little report and yes, I made check marks. When will
you accept that this is the best way to go when it comes to
packing for a business trip? Guh!
Advice for Today:
let anyone challenge you to drive faster than you think
MAY SOAR, BUT WEASELS DON'T GET SUCKED INTO JET ENGINES."
Shitty Bedtime Story and a Laptopectomy
from a week on the road and what do I do on a free morning?
Get up and do the running that I’ve been seriously neglecting
since Halloween, you suggest?
let in that dumb F%$@er?
I slept in. And when I say slept in, I mean like serious, industrial
sleeping in. Take it from a guy who takes sleeping as seriously
as Oprah takes Ho-Hos, I did me some sleeping. My normal description
of this depth of sleeping usually involves a very vulgar visual
to convey the sheer intensity of my sleep. Ask my wife, who
is the unwilling recipient of my vulgarity.
historically go with, “I’m going to sleep until
I shit the bed.”
I must take it to this level or even why beshatting the bed
is required to signify an extreme form of sleep-getting, I don’t
know. But I do and it does. (Re-read the last two sentences
slowly and make the question/answer connections if you think
I actually admitted to shitting the bed.)
at the risk of minimizing the effect of this description, I
will admit, I don’t really go through with it. I shouldn’t
have to say that but I know you guys. I really MUST say that.
So I did (say it not… nevermind).
week I go to San Diego so I want to get my personal laptop fixed.
This way, I can take it on the plane and actually watch a DVD
during the 4 ½ hour ride across the country. My harddrive
beshat its own bed (maybe it slept too long) and I ordered another
drive for $80. It came in last week so I was psyched to go through
the process of getting it set up.
should have noticed that “psyched” and
“psycho” have the same root word: Jason.
put the drive in and turned it on. The black screen told me
a very simple message:
you shit your bed last night?”
said: “OS Not Found.”
makes sense considering it was a virgin drive. I even expected
it but didn’t have a good alternative plan to overcome
see, I don’t have any original OS disks other than an
old Win98 set. Every computer I have has come with the operating
system already on it and my graduate school offered free upgrades
to Windows XP. They even gave you the disks but they were UPGRADE
disks that don’t work on a virgin system. Damn those Redmond
have three desktops in my house and in the last year, I have
scraped all three of them and reloaded all the software for
a variety of reasons, normally centered around them being rat
bastards straight from Satan’s anus. Or something to that
effect at the time. Things get hazy when I turn green.
time I did this, I had to load the old version of Windows 98
and then use the XP upgrade disk to, well, upgrade them.
may ask, “Why didn’t you just do that with the
who let in that dumb F%$@er? Seriously? Get him the F%^* outta
Mr. There’s No Such Thing As A Dumb Question (which is
a crock of my late-sleeping bedsheets), my laptop does not have
a 3 ¼ disk drive.
it, beat his ass.
load Windows 98, you have to have both the CD and the 3 ¼
disk. Why? I didn’t design the freakin’ system,
why ask me? Maybe it's an elaborate plane put into motion decades
ago with the foreknowledge that I would be in my living room
without a means to load an old OS onto my laptop. Stranger things
have happened. OK, that would be pretty strange and maybe stranger
things haven't, in fact, happened. Where was I?....
I was stuck, nothing worked. I called my Gunny who lives near
enough by that I would be willing to drive over but he had loaned
his XP disk out to someone far away. So then I went over to
my neighbor and tried to explain to them what was going on.
This was pretty much like explaining the space program to aborigines.
Deaf, in-bred aborigines with a learning disability and a hair
are nice enough people but the magic box works and they have
a collection of these disk thingies they’ve never used.
These are the same people who have thirty-some cats and a pet
pig inside their house. Yes, I said thirty-some and no, I am
NOT exaggerating. They really do. Plus they smoke…. a
lot…. inside. Cats, pig, smoke. It’s a bonanza of
got the disk I needed and even though it claimed to be a backup
disk (which I THOUGHT meant that you had to have it partially
on your system already but I guess not) it loaded up. It was
Windows XP Home Edition and I had all the intentions in the
world to upgrade it to the Professional Edition I had but after
doing some research, I realized none of the extras that the
Professional gave you were things I ever use. Fine, we’ll
stick with the Home Edition. Happy?
you should ask; it wasn’t. And didn't I order a kicking
of your ass? Anyway, just sit there and be quiet.
wanted me to register the copy through Microsoft. YIKES!!!!
That wasn’t going to happen and falling back on the loophole
of site licenses from my grad school upgrade disk, I went ahead
and upgraded. Nothing to see here, Mr. Gates. Just ignore the
little man with the laptop...
it was going fine and I got everything loaded. I hooked up the
laptop to my home network to transfer all the other programs
and files I wanted from my external hard drive (my teeth are
starting to buck again…).
I went through all the downloads to bring the OS and Office
up to speed. This, if you’ve ever done it, takes forever
even with cable internet. It also kind of made a statement along
the lines of “Our product was so assed up and inside
out, we have to send out these massive fixes. P.S. Thanks for
so this is the view from the bandwagon. Wassup, Linux?
it was time for the software: Antivirus, Office 2003, Photoshop,
FTP, Dreamweaver, Flash, Adobe, etc. Then the drivers for the
printer, scanner, etc. Then those files ....nevermind.
was taking all night but by the time it was time to go to bed,
I launched it to pull over all my MP3s (just over 2,700 at last
I will wake up to have a new laptop with all my data, ready
to take to the road next week.
if you’ll pardon me, I have to go soil my kind-size bed.
Advice for Today:
that bad luck as well as good luck seldom lasts long."
home coast to coast is both exciting (I’m going home!!!)
and not-so-much (I gotta be stuck in a metal tube all day?).
make sure the day started off right, we ate at IHOP. Here’s
my justification: traveling all day means you either live off
the sustenance of airline food (which now can be measured in
crumbs) or starve all day. Yeah, I could probably live off my
disgusting fat stores for many weeks but that’s a tertiary
argument and I feeling really binary today.
done the starvation thing before and it is made possible by
the criminal prices ANYTHING costs in the airport, assuming
you even have time to buy in during a layover. And because I
am cheaper than I am undisciplined when it comes to food, starvation
was in (although they are a old school
Shit List veteran) as the last meal we would enjoy in San
Diego. I had a lighter affair than I normally do at IHOP but
that was like ordering a diet coke with a double bacon cheeseburger;
a little too late to do any good. (And for the record, I have
NEVER sunk so low as consuming a double bacon cheeseburger.
The very thought makes my arteries constrict.)
may be the one I’m always on the lookout for: come on
aisle seat, come on aisle seat, come on….. middle seat?
DAMMIT!!!! Why do I not think of these things when I make my
reservations? Oh well, maybe on the second leg, I will not have
to endure two strangers sandwiching me.
same deal out of Atlanta.
the time I got in, I hated humanity. Hated it. Hated it with
the red hot intensity of a billion galaxies burning on the edge
of a jagged razor raking across my spouting jugular.
was my state driving home this night. Good thing the roads were
wide open and I got to enjoy a ride down I-95 going 80 MPH.
Since it was so late, I could do this and it soothed my nerves
after a day of travel.
am now officially regretting my statement when I first started
working here: “I love traveling!”
they build a time machine, and they will, I WILL go back and
bitch-slap that version of myself. And not even explain.
Advice for Today:
your children that when they divide something, the other
person gets first pick of the two pieces."
share a foxhole with anyone braver than you."
Jacket For The Supreme Idiot
the second day in a row, we got up, drove to Pendleton from
San Diego, and taught classes. And for the second day in a row,
I blathered incessantly to Travis about all manner of things
that he likely was too polite to ask me to stop my mindless
had an epiphany yesterday I forgot to write about. Here it is
so pay attention:
Marine Corps, while good at kicking the crap out of bad guys
and such, reinvents the wheel every couple of years. It’s
due to our heavy rotation which cycles about every two years
or so. Therefore someone is always new (reinventing) or leaning
forward to their way out the door.
we write turnover jackets (“This is how you do this
job”) but hardly anyone really reads them. The guy
before you is ALWAYS dubbed a supreme idiot who didn’t
know what he was doing and you spend your first year un-assing
what you perceive he invariably screwed the football on. Then
you spend the last year leaning forward and becoming the Supreme
Idiot, in preparation for your replacement. And even if you
wrote out the Turnover Jacket for Being the Supreme Idiot, you
would be heckled by your replacement that you couldn’t
even quite get that one right.
the cycle goes on.
noticed this when I sat at Edson Range waiting for the S3 and
watching the office dynamics of the same range I shot at some
18 years ago. I heard questions float around that induced a
single thought, provoking the above epiphany: You would think
after all these years, the answer to that would have been institutionalized.
Why is it still a mystery to be researched? Why do I still have
a Subway sandwich and a couple of In & Out
Burgers SOMEWHERE inside my body?
last thought kind of edged out the others. I know, kind of gross.
to today: we had lunch at the staff club which, as far as anyone
knew, had always been an all-hands club where rank was not a
factor. We were supposed to meet a Captain there but he never
showed so we ate with another colleague (when you are all officerish,
you have colleagues. Oh, and you don’t refer
to yourself as “officerish.”)
we got there, there was a big expo selling all kinds of advanced
weapon systems. I’m not kidding, there was booths and
everything for rifles, armor, and even high caliber, advanced
weapons. We took a gander around but for the life of me, I had
no idea why these people were doing this. The Marines I saw
were NOT the decision makers. These things get bid out and high
muckity-mucks (and their colleagues) go through excruciating
debates to decide what to buy. Private Snuffy bopping around
the Pendleton area will not have a say. But hey, cool bumper
we entered, we were looking for the dining area but there were
Marine Corps League people handing out a little sportsbag full
of SWAG. I told them I was not here for the expo but that didn’t
seem to matter (or his hearing aid was all the way down) because
he insisted I take it. OK, free bag, coffee cup, and a magazine
I would never even open. Cool.
the time we finished out day, it was evident that we had abused
our bodies with crap food for the last few days. I felt like
going out to eat was akin to eating breaded shit-cakes deep-fried
in piss. So we did the only logical thing: Wendy’s.
don’t ask. I don’t why I’m doing this. It’s
as though my body has performed some atrocity to me and I must
punish it mercilessly. It begged me for leniency just this one
night. For a carrot or a salad. Something other than putrid,
Satanic colon-ripping sludge from the fast food industry.
it was not to be. Reap it, body. Pay for the sins you don’t
even know you committed.
Advice for Today:
walking a dog, let the dog pick the direction."
enemy invariably attacks on one of two occasions:
you’re ready for them.
b. When you’re not ready for them."
Today I'm Adding Titles To These Entries
(This One Doesn't Count. Fine, How About "Fast Food Fandango."
(They'll Get Better...And Shorter)
didn't know where we were going, how long it would take to get
there, or how long it would take to set up once we got there.
All we knew is that we were supposed to teach a class at Camp
Pendleton California at 0800.
like the smart people we are, we found it necessary to leave
at 0100. OK, not really but that's what it felt like. It was
dark, it was early, and it was "not sleeping in the
king size Holiday Inn bed."
GPS not withstanding and the fact that we could SEE I-5 running
parallel, my imbecility prevailed in trying to find an onramp.
Add to that the fact that it was stupid-early and you have my
general mood as we wandered hither and too. (How do you wander
hither and too? Picture Little Billy on Family Circus going
to the neighbor's house via the dashed line. I swear that little
bastard had A.D.D.)
we found the longest possible route to I-5, we were off and
because of the early hour, the highway was pretty much clear.
We made it to Pendleton and to my astonishment, drove right
to the building we were teaching in.
Even a blind clock finds a broken bone... ok, too many analogies
mixed in there. Suffice it to say I was happy to not end up
taught the class to people that came from all over. I felt bad
for the 29 Palms guys and kicked myself for not remembering
how much of a pain in the ass it was to have 0800 start times
in Pendleton when you had to drive 3 hours. I always cussed
the morons that made those plans without considering us desert
rats. Now I have seen the moron and he is stapler... I mean
class, we hit the only place around that actually had food.
It was a Subway and not your average perky little Subway. I
figured since they had a food monopoly at this little camp we
were at, they really didn't have to try all that hard. No posters
on the wall, no ambiance at all. Just a counter and some table
and chairs. The overall theme was "Don't want to eat
here? Go f^%%$# yourselves! Starve, bitches."
don't think Jared would be pleased.
teaching the afternoon class, we headed back to San Diego and
decided to take in the city. That is simple code for "drive
around without making a decision and wonder how I forgot to
have a fun time."
really wasn't my fault. OK, maybe it was. But we drove up and
down the Gas Lamp district and I can hear those of you that
know saying "If this dingleberry can't find a good
time in the Gas Lamp district, he needs to pack it in and strap
on the Depends."
that as it may (and it isn't, thank you), all the bars looked
the same, as did the little cafes. So there was nothing but
general themes to differentiate the quality or quantity of "good
times" hidden inside each.
it was like 4:30 PM so drinking spirits was out (sound of the
Depends box being ripped open with liver-spotted hands).
So we drove around looking at all the potential good times and
in the end, found nothing we wanted to take a chance on.
did follow a line of traffic into Horton Plaza which we found
out was an outdoor mall. For chicks. And by “for chicks”
I mean there was a bookstore for the man of the family and every
other store was a shrine to the feminine gender. There was so
much estrogen in that place, the floor was slippery with it.
Eww, maybe I should rephrase that. Not the best analogy but
I’m leaving it. Deal with it.
really wanted to find a book or something because you had to
get your parking validated or pay out the ass for every 20 minutes
of parking. But I was unsuccessful at finding anything so the
rat bastards ended up getting $4 out of me as I left. It’s
OK though, I put a curse on them so if you live the general
San Diego area, you might want to take a visit to….anywhere
but San Diego. I’m not saying I will be the cause but
just head East, folks. I’m just saying.
driving aimlessly through the great cultural Mecca of San Diego,
we ended up partaking in that great American dining experience
known as In & Out Burgers. To me, this was no big
deal because it’s pretty much like Wendy’s
to me but for my wife, who was stuck in the great wasteland
of In & Out-less state of Virginia, this was a
particularly painful bit of news. I promised I would bring her
home a greasy wrapper. How about ODB? (Yeah, he’s dead
but it makes it that much funnier. No? Oh, grow up.)
Advice for Today:
that silence is sometimes the best answer."
THINGS GET ANY WORSE, I'LL HAVE TO ASK YOU TO STOP HELPING
rained today for the second day in a row. This is Travis’s
first visit to California and he’s starting to think the
whole world was playing an elaborate practical joke on him.
Sunny California? Kiss my ass!!!
the class, we hit the exchange for lunch. Since we had time,
we poked around and looked in all the little shops they have
there, mostly for the families that invade the Depot every week
to watch their young Marine graduate bootcamp. The shops are
full of the “Oooh-rah” stuff that families eat up.
I have to admit though, I did get sucked into this vortex when
I found something I had never seen anywhere else: a coin with
Captains’ bars on one side and the EGA on the other. I
decided it was necessary to buy their entire stash of 6 since
I had never seen them before and don’t know if I will
ever again. I knew that I was going to Lejeune next week and
definitely had to give one to Top Garcia.
outdoor food court holds yet another good memory. When I was
attending the MECEP prep course for 10 weeks back in 1993, my
son was less than a year old. Carrie and Alex were living in
Yuma and I sped home every weekend to see them but the first
few weeks, they were visiting family in Seattle. I remember
that when they finally got back, they were going to meet me
at the food court as they came down from the north on their
way back home to Yuma. I anxiously awaited their arrival and
when I first saw them at the food court, Alex came running up
to me with a big grin. It had been about a month since I had
seen him but for the first time, I really saw a lot of me in
his developing face. It’s a moment I will never forget.
that day we got him his first haircut, appropriately on the
Recruit Depot where I had received quite a different haircut
many years prior.
couple of things just didn’t fit in my mental image of
San Diego. There was all the rain of course, but seeing Drill
Instructors driving around in little golf carts was way weird.
Granted I only saw this once but once was enough and it just
seemed odd. Even seeing them in little cars was all wrong; they
belonged in big monster trucks that crushed all the little cars
as they drove across base. Now that would be normal, on MCRD
also got a little shot of generation gap as I showed Travis
the famous arch that
the color guard came marching through at the beginning of each
Gomer Pyle episode. Travis’s reaction was “Gomer
spots popped out all over my hands.
night, we decided to check out Old Towne (that’s how they
spell it). We had been lost a few times in the Pacifica and
although I knew that Old Towne was right near the Depot, I still
ended up all over the place and finding everywhere EXCEPT Old
Towne. When we finally stumbled into it, through sheer process
of elimination, we immediately saw what we were looking for:
a Mexican restaurant. It was named Guadalajara and
was exactly what we were looking for the first night. Gluttino
I chip out, you ask? Oh, you know I did, Silly Reader.
3 and I was still stuffing myself like a maniac. As though I
still have the metabolism of a hummingbird. As though I was
PTing every day to keep off the pounds. As though I could slam
massive amounts of food down my gullet and expect everything
to stay the same.
it was Mexican food; good Mexican food. I know, I know.
went back to the hotel. You know the rest, down for the count.
ONE SYNCHRONIZED SWIMMER DROWNS, DO THE REST HAVE TO
first morning on the depot was a far cry from the very first
one. For one thing, it didn’t involve crying, far or otherwise.
actually started by leaving the hotel and having Travis, the
civilian I was traveling with, agree to be my coffee bitch.
I know that sounds harsh but, well, OK, it’s harsh. If
I wanted to be more politically correct, I should point out
that he was kind enough to agree to grab me a cup of coffee
at the local 7-11 since I had my cammies on and couldn’t
go into the store. AKA: coffee bitch.
tease because I like him. And because I can. Sorry, Travis (C-Bitch).
got to the computer lab and was all ready to teach. I had a
mixture of excitement that I was in San Diego, at the Depot,
and teaching a class plus a little bit of trepidation about
teaching a system I only knew since Friday. But I had a job
to do and I was being paid to come out here to teach these people.
copy situation was touchy, though. As a former admin guy, I
know how much of a pain it is for any schmo to come in and make
copies so faced with the necessity to make a few hundred copies,
I was not too comfortable about asking the admin shop, even
though they had one of those high speed printers. But I got
over it and asked and they had no problem with it.
plan was to make 20 at a time and then come back begging if
I needed more. The packet I needed copied was about 27 pages
long so in all respects, I should have tried the base repro
office but that would involve time, effort, and possible failure.
So I politely asked the admin clerk if I could copy and she
was happy to oblige the wayward Captain in need.
would have been great if, as I discovered later, I wouldn’t
have grabbed an old copy of the packet and made 20 copies of
the wrong version.
to go, wayward Captain!
had made the copies (unaware they were wrong), worked out a
teaching strategy, and was raring to go by 0800 when the class
started. And then… no one showed.
granted there was only two people slated and one came in to
tell us she was sick and would be attending another class but
still, the other one didn’t bother to even call or anything.
So we had the morning to do whatever we wanted and decided to
take advantage of the time. An unteathered former recruit with
the run of the base. Mu ha ha ha ha....
had not slated any classes for Wednesday afternoon so that we
could make some coordination with the powers that be for the
return trip we will be making in two weeks to implement another
part of our computer system. We had planned to use Wednesday
afternoon for this but since we had the morning free, we decided
to see what we could get done today instead.
first person we looked up was a Captain that would be involved
in the new system. I had spoken to him on the phone for months
but had never met him. I was glad that he was a formerly enlisted
Marine and had been on the Depot a long time. He had always
been interested in getting our system launched aboard the Depot
and then I learned something even more impressive: he was formal
should explain; I am extremely jealous of Officers who had been
a Hat. It was my biggest dream while enlisted and my biggest
regret looking back that I never accomplished this. By the time
I got around to looking into it, I was told I would have to
choose an Officer path or a DI path, based on my age. I obviously
took the Officer route but I still have regretful memories that
I never donned the Smokey. Give me a minute, I'll get over it...
this Captain had done it all: boot camp, enlisted Marine, DI,
and now and Officer. And he just couldn’t help himself
when we walked around the Depot when a recruit would come nearby.
He would bark something at them, but not really in a DI way
but with a flavor of it. The poor recruits would just about
crap themselves, seeing two Captains and a civilian walking
around in the area and one of them being a former Hat. Poor
ended up going to one of the squadbays to test out the DIs’
computer. When we walked in, all Hell broke loose as expected
and the gear guard totally punted the report in the stands.
He stumbled through a rough approximation of what he was supposed
to say and of course got his butt chewed for it.
we entered the DI hut, it was a very strange feeling. That was
the most sacred of off-limits areas as a recruit and despite
my Captain-ness, my pucker factor was high walking into the
tiny room. We talked with the DI in there and of course he was
very polite to us and he actually knew the other Captain so
they were a bit more chummy than the normal Captain-DI relationship.
Shortly after we walked in, the DI skirted around us and shut
the door. He then was more at ease and the Captain even started
grab-assing with him as they laughed. Talk about surreal: a
Captain goofing around with a DI and the DI acting just like
any other Marine. I think the recruits would have fainted if
they saw it. As a former-recruit, it was really bizarre.
next place we visited was the armory. I had forgotten my ID
card (which I cursed myself for) so we couldn’t go in
the actual area where the weapons were but was able to go into
the office area. There was a Warrant Officer that I knew from
29 Palms that ran the place and it was good to see him for the
first time in years. He was friendly and the familiar face put
me at ease. The old cliché really is true: it’s
a small Marine Corps.
got a lot done but it was time for chow so we made our way over
to the bowling alley.
know that sounds like an odd choice but it was the closest area
and was known for having a decent buffet. It was also the place
I drank my first beer after bootcamp, when we graduated and
was let loose. The bowling alley served beer and was the closest
place to get it. I had a couple of hours before my flight and
so I did what many recruits do; find the nearest beer. By the
way, it hit my 120 lb alcohol-deprived body like a sledgehammer,
making the reality of being done with bootcamp even more strange.
buffet wasn’t all that great. They had Dijon pork chops
which is French for "pork chops smothered in baby shit."
It was food and it would keep us alive but it was like a bad
catering job gone ugly.
afternoon class went better since we had students. That tends
to make the whole “teaching” thing a bit more useful
and we actually bluffed our way well through it since we were
teaching a system we knew little about for the first time. Neither
one of us knew the old system it was replacing so anyone with
specific questions could have hammered us. I would have had
to throw a flash grenade and ran from the room. Luckily, that
was not needed.
we got done, we headed back to the Holiday Inn and changed over.
It was the second night of eating out and coming home from dinner
last night, we ran across a Godfathers Pizza joint. Upon spying
their burnt out sign, I knew where we would be having dinner
tonight. Allow me to explain.
makes a taco pizza that, if the truth be told, will be served
to me every day in heaven. Everyone knows I’m wide open
to new culinary combinations (insert a heavy dose of sarcasm
here) so it should be no surprise that I’m willing to
try a pizza with a taco motif. I really don’t remember
how it happened but somewhere along the way, Carrie made me
try this stuff and since then, it’s been the food of the
had never had it so it was foregone conclusion that we would
stuffing our pie-holes with taco pizza this night. Walking up
to the counter, I had a moment of fear when I imagined they
had discontinued the taco pizza and I would have to spray the
place with a high-caliber weapon. Luckily, they still had it
and of course I couldn’t just order the damn thing but
had to describe in excruciating detail to the poor worker how
taco pizza would save the world from communism and how I had
been neglected this culinary ecstasy for over a year.
was a good thing I made such a big deal of it because the lady
seemed real happy to make me an extra special pizza with extra
toppings and all I had to do was give her a review of her work
after we were done.
kept watching for the pie to appear as we made small talk and
the anticipation was killing me. Not only was I to experience
the nirvana that is taco pizza, I was to sit across a taco pizza
virgin, my coffee bitch.
it showed up, I was shaking with excitement as I pulled a monster
slice onto my little plate. I didn’t even care what Travis
thought at this point because I was in my own little taco pizza
world. After closing my mouth on the first bite, everything
went blank; too much pleasurable input at once.
ate until it hurt. And then I had one more piece. There’s
that moment where you will be fine if you stop but your mouth
is yearning for that one last piece. If you eat it, you will
pay. And pay dearly I did.
took two slices back to the hotel but just as intense the yearning
was to eat it at the beginning, there was equal repulsion to
even consider ever eating those last two pieces. I would be
full for eons.
liked the pizza and I don’t know if he was just being
polite or not. It didn’t seem to slow him down as we ate
all of a large save two pieces.
Fred-Sandforded my way back to my room and for the second night,
was attacked by the Full-Gut Demon as I collapsed on my bed.
This gluttony must stop, I said to myself as I smiled at the
memory of taco pizza. Mmmmmmmmm……..
Advice for Today:
your jacket around your girlfriend on a chilly evening."
COMPUTER - A DEVICE DESIGNED TO SPEED AND AUTOMATE ERRORS."
crappy night’s sleep but I feel a bit better this morning.
Maybe it’s just my body gearing up for the trip or maybe
my plague is starting to lose steam. I WILL live longer than
this horrid curse that was bestowed upon me. I think. I hope.
trip to the airport was a smooth one because an early Sunday
morning drive on I95 seems to be the ONLY time that there is
no traffic. I made it to the airport in plenty of time to sit
around for an hour and a half and read my book. I’m reading
The Firm by John Grisham and it’s REALLY good.
I didn’t mind at all that I get to the airport so early
and had time to sit down and read the book. I might set a personal
record today and finish the last 120 pages today. You see, normally
I read at the pace of Stevie Wonder (and don't give me the Braille
argument. Just give me the analogy so we can move on. Thanks.)
I know you are all waiting to hear about the freak shows that
undoubtedly seek me out to sit by me any time I fly. Today’s
winner, I think, missed the comet or was going to Atlanta to
do another school shooting. He was a skinny guy dressed in all
black, to include a black trench coat, long greasy hair in a
pony tail, and pale skin. At least he was small and quiet so
his annoyance factor was minimal. The only memorable moment
was when he put his Coke down on the lip of the drink holder
depression, causing it to tip over and spill all over his lap.
I tried not to laugh. Tried.
planes in Atlanta, they had me going 14 light years to my connection
but I had an hour. I made it in plenty of time but on the way
to the gate, someone put their hand on my shoulder and I turned
in surprise. I was under the impression I would be completely
anonymous because running into anyone I know in an airport is
extremely unlikely and undesired (is that a word? Probably not
but you get my drift. Did I really use that phrase? GUH!). The
guy waved and I vaguely remembered him although the short hair
gave him away as a Marine. When I gave him a curious “I
don’t know who the hell you are” look, he said
faked my way through it at that point, still not knowing exactly
who he was and in the ensuing conversation, figured out he was
an XO from the AAV battalion who I had dealt with here and there
when I was stationed at Regiment. He was now working in Quantico
and traveling to San Diego on business, like me.
me, he had returned from combat in Iraq. I explained to him
how I was sidelined after going to NPS and then required to
do this payback tour, in essence keeping me out of the combat
zone for the rest of my career. I feet so inadequate when I
meet those who have gone over and done the fighting while I
sit in office buildings and go home to my family at night. He
tried to play it off but we all know, yes we all know, that
going over to do the fighting is where it's at these days. As
a Marine, we feel so emasculated if we "stay back to fight
from the home front." And whoever came over with that little
justification gem, I guarantee you, was left behind also.
on the plane, it was a big 767 with two seats on either side
and three seats in the middle. I was on the aisle seat in the
middle row and was lucky enough to sit next to a skinny woman
about my age. She had got on the plane with a male friend who
was seated away from her but not wanting to get involved in
a conversation, I left my headphones on and ignored the situation.
I felt like an ass when the guy on the other side of her offered
to switch places with her companion and she accepted. I didn’t
think she’s accept if I offered. OK, I didn’t want
to move, I’ll admit it, because I had all my stuff out
and was set up for the plane ride. So much for chivalry.
plane ride was 4 ½ hours, give or take an eternity. The
movie was Wimbledon and because Delta’s planes
are equipped with a dual prong headset adaptor, my phones didn’t
work too well and I wasn’t about to pay $2 to watch a
Kirsten Dunst chick-flick. The only appeal was seeing Kirsten
in a tennis outfit and I could do that without the headset.
When I got bored, I put in my own dialogue and it was quite
scare myself often.
I read my book and couldn’t put it down. I ended up finishing
it even though I had to shut it a few times as I white-knuckled
through some turbulence. It only happened a few times but it
was enough to convince me that we were going down in a fiery
ball of screaming flame.
that ever happens, I will not be the stoic Marine accepting
the hand of Fate. I will be the one who loses it and goes to
my death screaming like a woman and crapping myself raw. Hey,
at least I admit it.)
I got to San Diego, I realized I hadn’t been on an inbound
flight to San Diego since the night I arrived at bootcamp in
1987. This was a weird feeling and I couldn’t help but
think about and relive that
fateful night when I was a scared little 18-year-old embarking
on a life-altering journey. This time, I was a confident 36-year-old
Captain arriving to provide training to the system that had
created me all those years ago. Wow, what a ride.
getting my luggage and finding Travis, we waited out front to
get a ride to the car rental office. San Diego airport, I guess,
has all their rental car offices off-site so we waited by the
curb as a parade of rental car “courtesy” buses
came and went. It did not bode well that ours took forever and
that I had never heard of “Advantage” rentals. I
was hoping I wouldn’t have some homeless guy offering
a ride in his grocery cart (although it might have been quicker
in the long run).
we finally got picked up, we were not alone and shared the ride
with a gentleman I had seen on the plane. I remembered him simply
because he was horrendously fat, totally bald, and had a scraggly
beard kept in check by a rubber band. And when I say “horrendously
fat” I mean that in a bad way. This guy looked like
he was going to pop, as though he didn’t have quite enough
elasticity in his skin to hold back the pressing fat inside
his body. He sweat just getting his luggage onboard.
to the rental car place, it was a hole in the wall with the
added bonus having the new guy helping us. After every screen,
he had to ask the other “associate” what to do and
if he was doing it right. And there were many screens. It seemed
he was writing a Stephan King novel just getting me checked
in but for my troubles, he upgraded me to a mid-size without
me asking. He made a big production of it having a GPS system,
a DVD (which is of no use to me since I have no DVDs on me nor
would I be spending any time in the back watching them if I
did), and a collection of other upgrades.
we got out to the parking lot, we were escorted to a Pacifica.
Never heard of it? Neither had I but it was basically a mini-van.
Fine, no problem. Appreciate the upgrade. Little did I know
that this area has parking spaces the size of matchboxes which
is completely inadequate for the likes of the mighty Pacifica.
had made reservations at the Holiday Inn so we got checked in
there and I was happy to see that I had two rooms and a king
size bed (and no Buster
to share it with). Two TVs and a fold out couch, microwave,
and fridge. Better than usual so I was happy.
area seemed like a nice one, if not a little touristy (is that
a word?) but it had everything we would need for our week’s
stay. But I started to notice that there was more than a few
nude bars in the area and after awhile I determined that you
could not throw a rock and NOT hit one of these places. OK,
"swing a dead cat" if you like. I just thought
"shake a stick at" was out of contention
just because of the context.
it was a nice area and not the seedy part of town so it was
a mystery why these places were so prevalent in this area. I
decided to ignore the big neon signs that advertised “Live
Girls” (as opposed to dead?) and “Gentlemen’s
Clubs” where I doubt if many gentlemen frequented.
and I made a visit to the base in order to get some intel about
where we’d be teaching in the morning. I knew it was at
the recruiter school’s lab but that’s about all
on base, I had the eerie feeling I always get when I return
to this place. I had spent three horrifying months here as a
kid and here I was again, a Captain this time. As the time between
then and now grows, the specific memories are starting to fade
but the feeling is still there, strong.
showed Travis around and we found the lab we would be teaching
in tomorrow. When we tried to find it, none of the recruiter
students even knew there was a lab in the building which made
me a bit nervous until we found it. But it was better to go
through this little dance tonight than in the morning when we
were expected to teach. As a rule, I try to get a recon of the
area every chance I get and it paid off with peace of mind.
took a drive around the base and I found the receiving barracks
and the famous yellow
footprints I stood on so many years ago. I found my barracks
and had a good time explaining to Travis my memories of each
of these places. Since it was getting dark, we just took a quick
tour around, never getting out of the vehicle and even got to
see a few platoons of recruits marching around in the dark,
likely very tired after a long day. OK, scratch the "likely."
I KNOW they were tired.
was getting late so we decided to find some dinner and get back
to the hotel. Our bodies were still on East Coast time and thus
we were tired from the time change and the jet lag.
would think we could find a nice sit-down Mexican restaurant
in San Diego California. But every place we found was just a
drive through or fast-food type. We looked high and low (OK,
maybe far and near) but gave up and ended up at the Sizzler.
Travis had somehow never been in one and although it wasn’t
exactly the California thing to do, we stumbled into the local
Sizzler and ordered us up some seared cow flesh.
salad bars are evil. And it wasn’t just salad, it was
chicken too. And tacos. By the time my steak got there, I was
already half full from the salad bar. I’m so undisciplined
when it comes to things like this. So much for self control:
if I pay for an all you can eat, I’m eating all I can
I showed them I can walk out of their restaurant with
a painful distended stomach. Damn them to hell!
rise, all day on a plane, three hour time difference, full gut.
story ends with me curling up in my king-size bed and biting
Advice for Today:
threaten if you don't intend to back it up."
Anonymous Friend Who Wishes to Remain Unnamed For Obvious
are sick of me whining about being sick. Well, guess what, I’m
sicker of being sick than you are of hearing me whine about
being sick. So take your complaints and ….
this sickness and really getting to me. I’m leaving tomorrow
and that compounds the problem because the only thing worse
than being sick at home is being sick on the road. I proved
that on my trip to New Orleans but of course you can’t
read about it because I decided to skip a couple of months of
blogs. Have I used the word “sick” enough in this
is not really much to write about today. I garnered enough strength
by the end of the day to start my geeky packing process to include
printing out my database report of all the items I take. Laugh
if you will but it really makes it easy to just print out the
list and go down the line, checking off everything I need. I
don’t have to worry about forgetting everything. OK, you
can stop laughing and stop rolling your eyes while you’re
this is getting ridiculous. My throat has rebelled and this
sickness has taken on plague-like proportions. Sore throat for
days now and I don’t seem to be getting better. I’ve
taken too much time away from work and with all these trips
looming, I can’t afford to be away from my desk.
that made me feel a little better. Thanks for listening.
I had a meeting at 3:00 in the afternoon and for a Friday, that
was poorly planned. But I had no way of getting out of it because
it was my first peek at the interface I will be teaching starting
Monday at MCRD San Diego. Yes, that’s right, my FIRST
look at the interface and I will be teaching it next week.
of an oversight and reshuffling of teams, I got put on a two-man
team where neither one of us has experience in the old system
our new system is replacing. Ironically, the other team is comprised
of two experts on both the old and the new system. So next week
should be interesting.
think my internet connectivity will be spotty at best so I will
have to write blogs on my laptop and post them as a huge blast
when I get back. Don’t worry, they will be there next
weekend when I get back.
I’m gone, three things are going to happen that I wish
I was at home for.
the new hard drive I ordered for my personal laptop will come
in. I want to get that laptop back on its feet because I have
admin control over it and it plays DVDs, unlike my work laptop.
Plus, it’s better quality.
the transfer of money from my bank account to my PayPal account
will hit so that I can send the money to the people holding
MY Rio Karma hostage. OK, it’s theirs until I pay but
stupid PayPal takes forever to transfer money and I have to
wait until they get around to posting my funds in order to get
my Rio sent. Hang in there, little buddy.
Lee Ermey is making an appearance
at the Quantico PX on Monday. I will be in San Diego. How ironic
that the man known to the world as the baddest bad-ass Drill
Instructor will be coming here and I will be on MCRD San Diego.
I forgot to mention. My running is at a dead stop until I get
over this Bubonic Plague. It sucks I have to miss the first
week of my training but I don’t want to make this last
any longer than necessary.
“sick” day but I had to get to work. I have this
week and then I’m gone for the next three so I couldn’t
play dead any longer. But that didn’t stop me from feeling
I got in to work, a lot had happened. First, the contractor
came up with a half dozen reasons why we needed to delay our
big launch that was slated for the end of this month. He had
valid reasons, some of them being technical details that made
my already-swimming head swim some more. Seems we need the flux
capacitor hooked up to and advanced security system to the tune
of $10,000 or so. Or something like that. I might have my terms
mixed up a bit but the bottom line is that we have to slip the
deadline. I know, surprising for a major project but it’s
decided to keep the training on track because we had told the
entire Marine Corps that we were having the training at multiple
sites and to cancel the week before they started would have
resulted in a lot of angry Marines. And ask the Taliban or insurgents,
that’s not a good place to be.
I spent the entire morning and early afternoon making preparations
for next week. And for all of those that think the life of an
Officer is all prim and regal, let me say bu11$***!!!!
I had to fill out the TAD request (mother-may-I paperwork)
to go to San Diego next week. I’m supposed to leave Sunday
so doing this on a Thursday before is not the way to make friends
up the line. Something about my oversight not becoming their
emergency. But Omega obliged and I got a flight (going through
Atlanta and taking all damn day).
there was the cost estimation which is about as accurate as
astrology. I got the flight: check. I had to get a rental car.
OK, not too bad. Then I had to call the base on MCRD San Diego
just to be told that they had no room at the inn.
the high-end military technology, I logged onto Mapquest
to find a nearby hotel. You’d think it was more institutionalized
than that but…nope.
found a Holiday Inn nearby and from my days past, I knew that
you could get into some real fleabag hotels around San Diego
so I made sure I got a decent room. I found out that I had about
$129 a day to spend so when I asked for their military rate
and they said it was $140, I was a bit dismayed.
immediately, they said the non-military rate was $109.
guess they didn’t have any regular rooms at the military
rate but only suites, therefore the high price even at a discount.
So I went with the regular room at the non-military rate. Seemed
weird but all I wanted was a room and to come under the price
of the last things to do was to get a non-availability number
from the MCRD billeting office. If they have no room, they give
you a number and then you are authorized to go out in town to
get a room. I called back for the number but they said they
needed my orders before they would give me a number. I told
them I needed the number to put on the form to cut the orders.
They said they were very sorry but that’s the rules. Let’s
hear it for senseless red tape without a brain to infuse common
sense. Hey, they are only doing their job and it’s not
their problem if it doesn’t make sense.
had my flight. I had my car. I had my Holiday Inn room. I filled
out my form (without the non-availability number) and emailed
it up the line, hoping a load of feces would not roll my way
due to the late request.
fears were assuaged when the Major I sent it to asked me what
he needed to do with it (he was filling in for my boss who was
still on emergency leave). I told him what to do and he approved
and forwarded it up the line.
week after I get back, I’m supposed to go to Camp Lejeune
to teach a class. I went through the same process with the paperwork
and was given a tip from my Gunny: if you stay at New River,
say you are teaching at New River.
class is really at Lejeune but New River is close (as is Camp
Johnson) but Johnson and Lejeune did not have rooms available.
So I got a room at New River and made the TAD request for New
River. See, people? This is the “let’s infuse
common sense” rule I was mentioning.
the time I got all this done, I was starting to go downhill
fast. My throat was almost closed and was on fire. I couldn’t
eat because of my nausea and all I wanted to do was go home.
I thought I had sufficiently passed my sickness to Gunny and
Eric so there was only one thing left to do. I had to make sure
San Diego knew the plan.
called there and quickly explained what we planned and ensured
everything was locked on. I don’t know if it was the gods
smiling but this went off without a hitch and I got off the
phone feeling like I might have covered most bases. It was a
weird feeling and I’m sure quite off the mark.
didn’t even have the strength the get out of my uniform
and probably shouldn’t have been driving. But I headed
home and made it there on a prayer.
hope I will feel human tomorrow. Fridays were not made for misery.
Advice for Today:
get yourself in a position where you have to back up a trailer."
CAREFULLY TO SEE IF YOU ANY WORDS OUT."
Catch-up Update: I posted Nov.
1, 2004. More to come as I play catch
know those people who never get sick or if they do, can carry
not like that.
tossed and turned last night with a sore throat and queasy stomach.
When the alarm went off at 0530, I knew I wasn’t going
to be making it into work. I just didn’t have it in me
to get up and drag myself to work. So I laid there and continued
to toss and turn until it was 1030, But then, my body was too
sore to stay in bed so I decided I should go downstairs and
email work to let them know what they probably figured out already:
I was down for the count.
a whole day off, you’d think I would have a lot to write
about. But I languished in and out of consciousness all day
and had to suffer through daytime TV. It was horrid.
did learn a few things, though. Daytime commercials really suck.
They are aimed at their demographic which are people not currently
employed and the television assumes these people are too stupid,
lazy, or brain-dead to respond to normal advertising. And it’s
obvious they have the impression that these people will jump
at the chance for get-rich quick schemes and low investment
programs to get degrees and technical skills. I felt dumber
after watching them for only an hour.
also heard that some Arab news agencies are blaming the United
States for causing the tsunamis. An Egyptian paper claims that
we were testing nuclear detonation devices that caused the earthquakes
which, in turn, caused the tsunamis. As crackpot as that may
sound, at least it was physically possible, unlike their co-claim
that the earthquakes were caused by the “bad thoughts”
of America. The stupidity of these claims just boggles my mind.
If “bad thoughts” can cause earthquakes, then what
would their monumental stupidity cause? Hurricanes?
reading is about the only thing I can accomplish without wanting
to die, I finished a book by Jack London last night called Martin
Eden. It was one of those “classics” that I
felt smarter for reading but was not all that easy to read through.
Written in the early 1900s, the style was different and was
a statement on socialism, the bourgeoisie, and early 20th century
wealth. The main character was a low class sailor who, through
sheer will, becomes self taught in order to win the hand of
a rich daughter of a high society family. He becomes a writer
and works hard to become self-educated in order to rise to the
level of this girl. There were some dry spots but I was glad
that I read it.
the heels of that, I decided to give my thinker a rest and go
for my first Grisham novel. I don’t have his first one
(A Time To Kill) so I started with The Firm.
I’ve seen the movie with Tom Cruise so I can picture the
characters. So far, it’s just like I expected: easy to
read and interesting.
the big news is that I bought a Rio Karma. For those of you
that don’t know what that is, it’s a 20 GB MP3 player.
They retail for about $300 but I bid on one at EBay,
thinking I wouldn’t have a chance of winning at the $170
I originally put in.
you’ve ever done the EBay thing, you know it’s
easy to get sucked in.
went back and forth and ended up putting in a max bid of $200
at the last minute. The price rose to $188.50 and my wife and
I watched the screen as I hit the refresh button repeatedly
the last few minutes. The price never changed and I came out
the winner. With shipping, I’m on the hook for just over
you just got a Sony Lyra, Jason” you might be saying.
Well, you’re right and even though I can hold up to 93
songs on it (by lowering the sampling to 64 KBS and adding an
expansion card), the Karma can hold 5000 songs at full sampling
(or good enough: 128 KBS). Plus, I can now give the Lyra to
Carrie who only needs it for exercise.
a few of the unknowns and drawbacks are as follows.
it’s an internal rechargeable battery which means if I
run out of juice on a plane or something, I’m done until
I can find an outlet and a few hours. This is a drawback because
there have been plenty of times I’ve changed batteries
on the go. So I will have to make sure I’m fully charged
when it counts. I get about 15 hours per charge, supposedly.
the other thing about the battery is that when it goes for good,
it’s gone. You can probably send it in for a replacement
but at what cost?
next thing that is problematic is that it’s a disk drive.
As I’ve explained before, these little suckers come in
two flavors: flash memory and disk drive. With all my former
players, I’ve used the flash so with no moving parts,
I could run with it without fear of hurting it. With the disk
drives, you run the risk of jarring it and making it skip or
something. I’ll have to be careful.
I didn’t notice until after I bought it that it was a
refurbished unit. The title said it was sealed and like an idiot,
I assumed that meant new. So much for reading the fine print.
So the warranty is only 30 days and if it goes tits up after
that, I’m out a lot of money.
looked up some reviews for it and it was feast or famine. People
either love or hate this thing but the tide seems to go to the
likers instead of the dislikers. God, I hope I have no trouble
with this because it’s a lot of money and my first foray
into the big capacities.
really don't need a "I told you so" at this
point. It's been a hard past few weeks.
Advice for Today:
that your children complete a driver's education course
at their school."
(thing-ee) n. female: Any part under a car's hood. male:
The strapfastener on a woman's bra."
can get sick at the drop of a hat. How do I accomplish this
feat? I don’t know but it happened today.
woke up at 0600 for my first day back full time after the holidays
and everything went OK on the way to work. I did take note that
we are still having freak weather where it’s short-sleeve
temperature. It almost feels like it’s saving up for a
brutal cold but that’s just me being a pessimist.
I got into work, it was hot, and I mean really hot, inside our
office. I thought that wearing a coat over a sweatshirt had
something to do with it but even stripped down to a t-shirt,
I was still wiping sweat from my brow. What the hell was going
never cooled off all morning and started to feel a bit queasy;
something I blamed on the heat. The feeling never went away
as we made our way to the other side of the base for a meeting.
a side note, I felt self-conscious again today because I’m
still out of uniform. The Marine Corps changed their policy
and now everyone is supposed to have both green pattern cammies
and desert pattern. To make sure this happens, the base dictated
that the first week of every month, we will wear the desert
I first got here from Monterey (where we didn’t wear cammies
at all), I had to buy the new cammies and knowing no better,
I bought two sets of green ones. It kind of chafed me because
I had plenty of sets of the old style and I was only going to
be in for 4 more years. But I bit the bullet and shelled out
the coin (wow, two ammo references in one phrase). I still have
an untouched set in my closet and figured I was through with
cammie-buying for the rest of my life.
the policy changed and I’ll have to go out and get another
pair, adding it to the other set that I may or may not use in
the next 3 years.
those are the rules and I can bitch all I want but it won’t
change anything. I have yet to take the step and actually buy
the cammies but I will before next month as to not look like
the butthole Captain who doesn’t want to get with the
I’m walking around the building with the highest concentration
of high ranking officers on the entire base in my green cammies,
feeling like an idiot. No one said anything but I could FEEL
it. Ironically, the last time I came to a meeting at this place,
I was in the same predicament last month. Get with it, Captain!!!
the meeting, I went back to my office and knew I was definitely
feeling like crap. But I had to run to stay on schedule and
knew that it would make or break me for the day.
that it contributed, but I forgot running socks and had to go
without them. Again, it was unseasonably warm and I realized
I hadn’t been on a serious running schedule since….since…Oh
My God, BEFORE the Marine Corps Marathon. That was Halloween
which means that November and December flew by without me in
the running world. Oh, the nastiness!!!
let’s recap: felt like crap. Unseasonably warm. No socks.
Hadn’t run much in 2 months.
just say it was not one of my better runs. In fact, it sucked.
I did a fair amount of walking which I will not elaborate on
due to a shred of ego I still maintain.
I got back, I was feeling worse than ever. It seemed to have
cooled down but I was still hot. I thought that maybe my blood
sugar was low and that eating something would perk me up.
I knew what I had to do: muster all the manliness I possessed
and … call my wife to come get me. But when I called and
before I could tell her my predicament, she informed me that
she was feeling nauseous and dizzy.
It wasn’t just me!!! She never gets sick so it must be
legitimate. I celebrated this little fact by dry heaving. Yayyyy
to her condition, my plan for her to come get me took a hit.
So I told her I’d catch the next train and then made a
flurry of emails to all the other commitments I had that day.
I was homebound to be pitifully sick with my bride. I know,
ride home seemed longer than it should have been and I couldn’t
get to my bed fast enough. Sweating and feeling like I was going
to hurl, I faded in and out of sleep for a few hours. Then it
was time to do nothing which I do splendidly.
that was my night. Not as exciting as some of them but depressingly,
a lot more to write about than others.
Advice for Today:
loved ones drive away, watch until you can no longer see
seems Tuffy found his address and wrote him a letter asking
the Gunny if Tuffy could send him an autographed copy of the
book about TIs he had written.
Thursday night Tuffy’s phone rang and the voice on the
other end identified himself as Lee Ermey. He said he had a
few hours and wanted to call Tuffy to “make his day.”
he just about ended them with Tuffy’s high blood pressure.
They talked for 45 minutes until Tuffy started to think he was
taking up too much of the Gunny’s time. Tuffy was beside
himself because he told me that incredibly, HE had ended the
conversation before the Gunny did!!!
was the weird part. In the letter, Tuffy had mentioned how I
had been down to see him recently and the Gunny brought me up
in the conversation first.
Captain Grose down there on business or pleasure?”
went on to describe why I had went and how much fun we had.
Then Gunny says, “The last time I saw Captain Grose
was when I was doing a show out at Quantico last September or
October, I don’t exactly remember the month.”
by now, my heart was palpitating. The Gunny knew ME? He remembered
me by name and brought me up first in the conversation? And
then remembered our second and last meeting?
said the Gunny went on to say that “Captain Grose
is a fine young Officer.”
this fine young Officer proceeded to crap down both legs.
when I got home tonight, Carrie hands me this flyer.
problem is, I might be in San Diego during this visit and would
miss an opportunity to meet the Gunny once again and return
the favor by talking about Tuffy to the Gunny. Oh, the inequity!!!
happenings tonight include selling something on EBay.
I had done this a long time ago but it had been years so I had
to stumble through the process like I was a newbie.
started this morning when I had to apply some Frontline
to old Buster to protect
him from ticks and fleas. We apply it to his neck at the first
of the month and for a day, he is dubbed “Greasy Grimy
Gopher Guts and Marinated Monkey Butts.” In fact, we use
this as both a verb (“Honey, did you Greasy Grimy
Gopher Guts and Marinated Monkey Butts Buster?”)
and as a general description (“Honey, is Buster Greasy
Grimy Gopher Guts and Marinated Monkey Butts?”)
looking through Buster’s supplies, I found an unused 4-pack
of Advantage packs. We used to use these until we discovered
they don’t protect against ticks which Buster needs around
here. So we got to Frontline and had the extra Advantage
packs just laying around.
to the rescue.
started out at $14.99 and choose a “Buy It Now”
option for $20. We’ll see how things go. If you want a
peek, go here.
So far, no bids!!! >:(
Advice for Today:
tell a car salesman how much you want to spend."
I said this crap has got to stop. After sleeping in until 1030,
I knew I had to break myself of this habit. So I vowed not to
let it happen again.
awoke at 0945. So much for leaps and bounds. But tomorrow will
break me of this sloth-like behavior because it’s back
to work. Oops, we don’t have to be in until noon so I
guess I got one more day of Slothville. But I will be taking
the kids to school so that will get me up by 0730 but this is
still 1 ½ hours more sleep than the rest of the week
and 3 ½ hours more than the coming weeks.
see, I fell victim to the holiday season and indulged with both
quantity of food and lack of exercise. I tried to enjoy it,
knowing its temporary nature, but the last week, I’ve
felt like I’m carrying around a bowling ball in my gut.
So starting next week, a couple of things are going to happen.
start my 4 month work-up to the Wild Wild West Marathon in May.
Here is what my program is looking like.
addition to this, I will be going to the gym at lunch, 5 days
a week. To help me in this endeavor, I will be joining a Staff
Sergeant who works in the office near me and we made a pact
to meet at lunch and work out.
here is what it will look like:
for the sweet release of death
for the sweet release of death
ready to do it again
on top of this my travel schedule which is substantial and you
have my plan for the coming months. And you also have the reason
I’ve let me sleep hours multiply and my eating habits
degrade. It will all be a fond memory soon.
also going to my protein diet to help me along. It goes something
or turkey, salad
or turkey, salad
get one cheat meal once a week of whatever I want but in sensible
portions, like a pizza the size of a jet tire.
notable mentions for the day was getting through the backlog
of newspapers. The earliest one was October 17th. But I got
to the bottom of the stack where the term“news”
was no longer accurate. The most useless parts were the election
debate articles. And the pre-tsunami catastrophes that seemed
also got my email inbox down to 121 items.
I think I’m about as ready as I’m gonna get for
the new year.
Advice for Today:
decide to do nothing just because you can only do a little.
Do what you can."
a motorist cuts you off, just turn the other cheek.
Nothing gets the message across like a good mooning."
Happy New Year and a return to blogging for me.
here’s the deal. I’ve been horribly behind on my
blogging for like two months so instead of trying to catch up,
I’ve come up with a plan.
just start today with the new year. There, problem solved.
not the greatest plan but there’s more. I skipped November
and December so I will work on those, post them, and provide
links to the old entries as I make them. And so you don’t
think I’m making crap up as I go, let me point out that
I did write some notes about those missing days with the intent
on writing about them some day. That “some day”
will be within the next couple of months while I concurrently
keep up with the modern blog each day.
here we go.
slept in. And by “slept in” I mean to a disgusting
degree. It was about 1030 by the time we got up. And you might
say “Hey, it’s New Year’s Day and old
Capt. Grose tied one on and had to sleep off the pain.”
I don’t even have that excuse. We stayed home, watched
movies, and played Cranium. So I have no excuse because I went
to bed before 0100 and only had two beers all night. I’m
are having freakish weather here in Virginia. It got into the
70s today and because I couldn’t let a day like this go
by inside pounding away at the computer, I decided we should
take advantage of this gift from above.
what to do. We ran across this problem yesterday when we were
all home but did nothing about it. So we decided to check out
Fredericksburg since we’ve lived here for over a year
and never really checked out the historic downtown.
first idea was to take a carriage ride I see downtown on the
way home from the train station. That was a great idea until
I looked up the prices and decided $50 for the family to stare
at a horse’s ass for 45 minutes wasn’t going to
drove to the train station and parked in the cool-guy parking
which was wide open on a Saturday. We walked to the little local
grocer who sold train tickets because I was out and took the
opportunity to buy the tickets today so I wouldn’t have
to in the morning when I needed them, when I'd be sweating bullets
about how slow the guy would inevitable take, and then missing
the train and having to mow down a crowd of people.
thought it would be a simple in and out affair today. Ahh, ...
we walked in, there were a few people at the counter buying
lottery tickets. You want to strike it rich, good to go, but
do you have to make a fiscal transfer on the scale that would
make Donald Trump vomit? It’s lottery tickets, not mapping
human DNA. But you wouldn’t know it by the time and effort
these people were taking to figure out some insane permutation
that would give them the best chance of winning.
lady, that only took about 10 minutes of my life for you to
throw away $10. “You can’t win if you don’t
play” you say? Well, you played and you didn’t
win. And you are $10 poorer. Have fun?
the time this little Greek Tragedy played out, the line had
grown to immense proportions. Everyone was rolling their eyes
and when we got a clear path to the counter, I was feeling kind
of self-conscious because I was about to buy 10 ten-trip tickets
using my Metrochecks.
is my defense: I had taken the time AT HOME to calculate exactly
what I wanted and how much it would cost. Like the soup-Nazi
scene, I stepped up, told him exactly what I wanted. He punched
it into the computer and said “$328.” I gave him
11 Metrochecks and the longest part of the process was waiting
for the machine to spit out 10 tickets.
I could feel the eyeball roll behind me but I think that was
unfair since they were ancy due to the Highrollers in front
of me. I took the minimum amount of time and got out of the
way. And if I would have been one of the people in line, yeah,
I would have been eye-rolling too but I’m an ass.
started walking around Fredericksburg but what we hadn’t
realized was that most everything was closed on New Year’s
day. There were a few trinket and antique shops open but on
the whole, it was a chance to walk outside and enjoy the 70
made it to a park by the river and sat for a few moments. I
watched the mighty Rappahannock slowly roll by with Carrie as
my kids complained about any manner of things. Alex culminated
his appreciation of this historic river by pulling out his Gameboy
and going away for awhile.
thoroughly exhausting everything there is to do on New Year’s
Day in Fredericksburg, Virginia, we headed to get something
settled on the A&W place that is one of those combination
set-ups where they serve either A&W food or Long John Silvers.
First, I don’t like this concept because it just screams
of disloyalty to either joint. Plus, my fries always taste like
battered fish. I like my French fry oil pure crap as
opposed to fish-contaminated crap.
in, the place was a disaster. The floor was wet with root beer
and extremely sticky. There was trash on the floor everywhere
and every empty table needed cleaning. There were dirty mugs
waiting to be cleared. This did not bode well for the unearthly
root beer pirate mutants.
ordered as I cleaned off a table and we sat in the booth for
a very long time. Although we were in no hurry, waiting a long
time for “fast food,” especially in a dirty restaurant
started to make me mad. Go figure.
waited and waited and waited. It seemed the whole mood of the
customers was about to boil over as we all waited and one guy
even asked for his money back and stormed out of the place.
to this point, I could take it. I was hungry, I like A&W,
and I was in no hurry. It’s fast food, what do you expect?
then they broke the cardinal rule: they made us wait and then
gave us crappy food even by fast food standards (which are gutter
to begin with).
fries: cold and rubbery. My burger: missing lettuce and tomato.
meal was in the same state so we exchanged the fries and had
them fix the burgers. But the whole experience was ruined and
I was intent on calling the feedback number that was ironically
posted on the wall.
then the manager saved the day: she came around and without
fanfare, handed out a free meal coupon to everyone in the store.
Yes, I had a crappy meal and yes, all I got was a coupon which
gave them a shot at doing the same thing to me once again but
there is something about getting something for free that makes
up for a lot.
we headed over to Circuit City so I could geek out for awhile
and looked at stuff like the Rio Karma MP3 player (but for $300,
I was benched from the MP3 player buying field). But I had it
in my hand!!!
looked at the XM kiosk and discovered that the $10 investment
was something I might want to beg for soon. But everyone knows
that the monthly subscription is only the tip of the iceberg.
Once you add in the receiver, the car adaptor, the home adaptor,
and the plethora of other gadgets they will gleefully sell you,
well, it’s a bit more than $10 per month. Once I can determine
if I can get it to work on the run, I will look further. Until
then, if you are an XM company exec and want me to be a beta
tester or something, I'm willing to consider it a box of happy
sent to my house.
I hooked up Truckasaurus by replacing the bug shield on the
front. Carrie had got me a new one since the first one we had,
we got when Tuckasaurus was new in the early 90s and by now,
it had cracked down the middle and each side wavered in the
wind like an aileron. I thought it was kind of cool but it really
did look like baked dog feces.
put the new one on and it looked, well, it looked like a new
bug guard on an old truck. I have to face it, Truckasaurus is
getting a little long in the tooth. But she has a new bug guard.
Merry Christmas, Truckasaurus.
Advice for Today:
regularly with someone who holds vastly different views