Jason's BLOG pages



How Did I Get Here?

(and what is that smell?)

March 2005




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.

Quote of the Day:

"If it’s the Psychic Network why do they need a phone number?”

- Robin Williams

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

GMail For The GMasses

I’ve spout off about Google before but I forgot to ask the question that has been on everyone’s lips: Is Google God?

Ok, maybe not on EVERYBODY'S lips. In fact, I heard it from someone else but it made me think. I know, but it happens.

It’s a good question. Funny, but good. I mean, think about it: you ask it a question about anything and it gives you thousands and thousands of answers from all points of view. It’s always there 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and is every where you go. It’s the first one you turn to when confused and we're all pretty confident it will have the answer to anything you have to ask it.


Then there’s Googlewhacking which is a game you can play where you put in at least 2 words in Google and see how few (but more than zero) results you can get. Go ahead and try it. Can you find any two words that when put together will only result in 1 Google hit? See ya in about a year.

The other big news in Google, and something I’ve also sung the praises to, is GMail. OK, let’s go through this ONCE again. Start here if you don’t know what GMail is, of course right after you get rid of your abacus board and stone-washed jeans.

The big thing used to be that GMail offered 1 GB of space which was more free space than anyone. Hotmail was offering 2 measly MB and Yahoo all the way up to 4 MB. I think you could get a gig if you laid out some cash for their “Premium” accounts. When GMail came along and dropped a big gig turd in the middle of the punchbowl, everyone had to scramble to keep pace. They upped their limit but always lagged behind GMail.

So what did GMail do. Oh, just DOUBLED their offer. Yes, now they are offering 2 GB of space per account with a promise to keep increasing the limit as time goes by. Just plain incredible.

The other big deal was that since it was a new web email service, all the names were wide open, enabling you to get that name that, by now, you could never dream of getting on Hotmail without adding a bunch of stupid numbers at the end.

Oh, I can get jason854759686667684763@hotmail.com? Wonderful.

But since the field is still pretty decently open and the accounts are still only by invitation only, you still have a good shot to get your name with a “@gmail.com” ending, carrying with it 2 GB of storage.

I got two words for ya: “SW” and “EEEEEET!”

This brings me to an offer for all you faithful readers who stuck with me thus far. I have somewhere around 200 invites. Last time, I made some outlandish requirements but I’m backing down and opening up the coffers. Ask and you shall receive. Yep, just let me know and I’ll send an invite your way.

Anyway, none of you bastards held up your end of the deal so what’s the use? I'm pretty sure "bonejasonlikehesinprison@gmail.com" is still available.

I’m too good to you!!

Free Advice for Today:
"Learn to play a musical instrument."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003

Quote of the Day:

"Ever stop to think and forget to start again?”

- Unknown

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

I Do It Five To Six Times A Day!

I guess it’s about time to announce that we have changed the way we eat as a family. For now on, we are sticking with roadkill and stray neighborhood pets.

OK, you caught me. But we are changing our wayward dieting decisions. You see it started with the fact that I run more than anyone I know and still keep hovering above the weight I want to be. With a bunch of serious races coming up, I figured I had proven the fact that you can exercise all you want but without proper eating, it’s all for not.

So on some good advice (and I’m not getting any endorsement deals, in case you are wondering), we bought Eating For Life by Bill Phillips who wrote the inventively titled book Fit For Life.

The good news is that I’ve lost about 7 pounds in a week but the bad news is that I’ve kept it from you, my readers (or “reader” most likely), because I tend to get a lot of crazy ideas and get involved in a lot of things by getting all jazzed up, jumping in, and then losing interest. Then I have to either ignore it like it never happened or answer a bunch of embarrassing questions like “Why are you such a jackass?” You’d think after the sheer number of times that’s been asked that I’d have an answer more polished than “EEEEEE-OOOOOOOWWWWW.”

So how does this work? Well, the first big change is that I’m drinking a lot more water to the tune of a gallon a day. Not only does this prevent my body from hording water (knowing it’s gonna get replenishment all day) and clean out my system, but it allows me and my walnut-size bladder to make a piss-dash every 10 or 15 minutes all day. Joy. But I have noticed I feel better during the day and have more energy during my runs, at least to the bathroom.

And what is a eating plan without food? Well, a confusing, generic “plan” I guess. But that’s not important.

Notice I’m avoiding the word “diet.” This is not a diet because I don’t have to do all the craziness usually associated with a diet and it’s not a temporary, short-term weight loss plan. It’s an organized change in lifestyle to balanced nutrition (or so this $35 book tells me).

Here’s how it goes: I eat 5 to 6 times a day with a balance of “good carbs” and protein. Most of the stuff in the book is common sense but the advantage that it gives you is a solid plan and easy to follow directions. It gives 150 recipes and shows you what to buy to make them.

And before you start poo-pooing it, it’s not tofu and soy beans. Most of the recipes just use the low fat, low-carb version of popular brands. Hell, I had chicken enchiladas last night and a grilled pork chop tonight. Tommorrow I get dirt clods and dryer lint. (I kid, there are some really good recipes in there and when you are dictated what to eat, things tend to get better and better.)

I know this plan was not made with an ultra-runner in mind but you know what, it's gotta be better than the way I was going which is the same as I used when I ran my only two 50-mile races: free for all, I'll burn it on the road. Ends up, not so much.

I could go on and on about this but the bottom line is that I’m eating the right foods, in the right proportions, at the right times during the day. I’m feeling REALLY good physically, have not had ANY hunger pains (but a few cravings at night that always sunk my boat), and have lost 7 pounds.

Wow, maybe I SHOULD get an endorsement deal. Hey Bill, this is pure gold over here, how about sliding me some green?

And the best thing about it: you get a free eating DAY. Yes, folks, DAY. Not “meal” but a free, gut-busting, eat-all-you-want-of-anything-you-want full DAY.

I know, but that’s what it says. I will report the gluttonous, painful, disgusting details this weekend if my bloated fingers can hit the right keyboard keys.

Now if you will excuse me, I gotta walk pigeon-toed and hope I make it to the pisser.

Free Advice for Today:
"When taking a true-false test, remember that any statement that includes the word any, all, always, never, or ever is usually false."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003

Quote of the Day:

"A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking.”

- Unknown

Monday, March 28, 2005

Gadgets To The Left Of Me...

New cars come with a lot of cool stuff.

I mean, back in 1992, I bought Truckasaurus fresh off the lot with placenta and mucus all over it (too much analogy? OK, maybe so.) It was a full size extended cab truck but nothing other than its newness really made my undies quiver.

In 1998 I bought a brand new Saturn and again, while pretty cool to have a new car, there’s no gadgetry I can remember that made me squeal. I know what you’re thinking, maybe that’s a good thing. Let’s try to stay focused here, folks.

But now that we have the new Honda Pilot in 2005, I’m amazed at the cool details I’m discovering.

OK, before I go on, understand that the list will be pretty minor things so don’t be expecting stuff like Batman costume changeover capability or Knight Rider buffoonery. I'm a simple ... hey, look, a butterfly....

Let’s start simple: the side mirrors are controlled by a switch button (L and R) and then another button that adjusts them electrically. And they are heated. Thus they have surpassed about 90% of Truckasaurus automated capability.

Next up: the leather pilot seats with electronic 60 way or so adjustment. This too is heated, just in case I get a hankerin' to feel like I just wet myself. Hey, there might be a trend here. I wonder if the pedals are heated. I’ll let you know.

Delving into the just plain weird, we have the intermittent wipers that actually go faster as the Pilot accelerates, on the assumption more water will be hitting the windshield and you will need a lesser interval (yes, “lesser.” Think about it. What is the definition of interval? Time between cycles. If I have to stop to explain these things, we’ll be here all night!)

I got airbags all over the place. Front, side, and I’m hoping something a little special around the crotch area because I’d want to go if it does, if you know what I mean. And I guess the passenger airbag disables until something or someone heavy enough sits there so if your kid isn’t heavy enough, no air bag. Pretty slick.

What else, oh, outside air temp. Kinda cool. 255 watt 6 disc CD with 7 speakers. DVD with cordless headphones and jacks for the cords I assume when the cordless wear out. And you can play the CD or radio up front while the DVD plays in the back. And like that won’t happen EVERY time.

The temperature control is automatic so all you have to do is turn the knob to the degree you want it and it will take care of the heating and cooling until it gets to that temp. Personally, I would put “Freakin’ Hot” and “Bone-Ass Cold” at either extreme but that may be one of the reasons I don’t get to design these things.

Then there are the “OK, whatever” items such as the automatic 4-wheel drive. I’m not exactly a 4-wheel drive kind of guy but it came with it so yeah, whatever. And they tried to explain to me about the oversteer/understeer safety thingamajigger that helps me out in a skid. I hope it also knows what to do with the brown mudpie I drop in the leather seat once it helps me out of the skid. Because the road will not be the only skid-laden area at that moment.

It comes with a sun roof/moonroof. I assume the difference between these two items is one is the glass and one is the sliding cover to it. I don’t know, just grabbing at straws here. All I know is that it would be difficult to come up with a scenario where I would be mooning someone ABOVE my vehicle. What were they thinking?

Endless cupholders, about eight 120 volt outlets all over the place, three rows of seats that hold 8 people and a separate climate control system for the back. Tinted windows, radio and cruise controls on the steering wheel, automatic garage door opener built in, the list just goes on people.

So to sum up, it’s been 13 years since I bought my first new vehicle and the change has been quantum. I’m so impressed and can’t think of anything I ….

... w ait a minute. Where is the indicator telling me how many miles I have left on the amount of gas I have? And where is the one touch memory seat adjustment for my preferences?



Free Advice for Today:
"Be especially courteous to receptionists and secretaries; they are the gatekeepers."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003

Quote of the Day:


- Unknown

Sunday, March 27, 2005

A Shameful (But Really Funny) Easter Tale

I don’t know if I ever told this story before somewhere on the page but after a lame attempt at checking, I determined that you might read it somewhere else but if it’s there, here it is again.

I had a paper route during my 9th and 10th grade years which taught me a few lessons:

1. Delivering papers to cute girls’ houses you know in school almost exactly cancelled out the coolness of having a bit of extra spending money.

2. 70 Sunday papers weighs approximately 6 times my body weight at the time.

3. The basics of sneaking out Dad’s van early Sunday mornings, complete with the requisite gas refill and the coast in after cutting the engine.

4. Having to wake up early to deliver papers on weekends while discovering the world of teenage partying really, REALLY hurt.

5. Having a key to the shack because you are shack manager offered a teenage bed of intrigue.

6. Dead cats are fun to play with (don’t ask).

7. Moped kickstands don’t last long on paper route

8. The fact that I delivered papers with a moped made me even more of a target for the local bullies.

9. Putting the subscription collection responsibilities on a kid really brings out the advantage-taking tendencies in some adults.

10. Easter baskets can explode.

Let me explain the last one which is the crux of this blog. It happened one Easter morning when Jeff, my hooligan friend, joined me in my delivery duties. Jeff was a friend but didn’t exactly bring out my best side and more often than not, we were up to no good. And for some reason, it didn’t affect him to get up early on a weekend and help me deliver papers. I had a penchant for a lot of sleep, like now, but he joined me quite a few times before the crack of dawn without complaint.

Some of the crap we pulled was stupid and destructive. Like at Christmas time, we thought it necessary to steal those big old-fashioned exterior Christmas bulbs because they made quite the little explosion on the street. Then there was Jeff’s peel-out in a gravel driveway with his dirt bike for which my little moped was blamed. Yeah, right but I was still guilty by association so the subscription cancellation was justified, looking back.

But this cool Easter morning we had slipped out in my Dad’s van (why he just didn’t let me borrow it, I don’t know but it made those early Sundays go by so much faster and without back-breaking effort). When Jeff would tag along, I had a deliverer because I had to drive. What could be better?

Coming up to a house on my route, we saw that there was a huge Easter basket on the front door, no doubt to surprise a waking child. Did this matter to us? Come on, we were punk teens.

This basket was filled to the hilt with fruit and it was a BIG basket. I mean it had a whole pineapple surrounded by bananas, apples, oranges, and a bunch of stuff we didn’t even recognize and the whole thing was wrapped in cellophane.

We hatched an idea to steal the basket by simply sneaking up there, checking to see all was clear, grabbing the basket, and taking off. I was the getaway driver and was in the van on the street with a movie-screen-view of the front.

Jeff got out and very ninja-like pranced over to the front door. He had to go up the driveway, take a left and walk the length of the house between a plate-glass window and the long hedge paralleling the length of the house to get to the front door. It was like a hallway and he had one way in and one way out.

I sat there in the van feeling rather nervous but not as nervous as Jeff who was going very slowly, listening for any sound. I silently cursed him to hurry and he was taking his time, inspecting the eerie silence and tuned into the slightest sound.

When he got to the basket and wrapped his fingers around the wicker handle, the world exploded. What I had failed to tell Jeff is that they had a couch pushed up against the plate glass window which served as a perch for one of those shitty little dogs that go berserk when anyone comes to the door, snapping at the window and banging his fool head against the glass.

In an instant, Little Kujo was piercing the silent, still Easter morning with a vicious attack on the window. Startled enough to brown out his underwear, Jeff came busting through the hedge, wild eyed. But at the instant he bolted, he did so with such startled force that the handle to the basket broke on one end and to the soundtrack of an insane little dog raising a hell of a racket, I saw Jeff burst through the hedge holding the broken end of a whicker basket among a shower of fruit that was literally a wall of color coming down like rain.

Jeff stopped, not knowing what to do. He made a move to the van, stopped, turned back, and repeated this little decision matrix a few times, all the while the dog was going apeshit and I was in a combined state of gut-busting laughter and terror. Jeff quickly scrounged around and put what he could back into the wounded basket and came running to the van. He jumped in the open side door as I squealed off like an idiot.

I look in the back and Jeff has his hands on his face, cursing and rolling around a variety of fruit.

As if the sight of him making a run for it, scared silly and having fruit showering down on him wasn’t funny enough, the true humor lay in the fact that despite his overzealous precautions, one of the worst scenarios came to be. If he would have just walked up calmly and grabbed the basket, walked to the van, nothing would have happened.

OK, when you start to chastise me about ruining some kid’s Easter, let me remind you that it was all fruit. Hell, I did him a favor. And let me remind you that you laughed. And if that’s not enough, know that when I came collecting at the next billing cycle, they brought me in and grilled me. I tried to play innocent but they cancelled their subscription anyway after chewing me out.

But that Easter morning we had fruit and cut up that pineapple for breakfast. It tasted good with the laughter over the morning’s shenanigans.

Free Advice for Today:
"Get to garage sales early. The good stuff if usually gone by 8:00 AM."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003

Quote of the Day:

"Energizer Bunny arrested, charged with battery.”

- Unknown

Saturday, March 26, 2005

We Got Our Pilot's License

Well, we did it. I am now insanely in debt yet once again.

And what is the source of this vacuuming of my funds? Let’s just say there is a matter of this 2005 Honda Pilot.

I have a choice here: I can post about 1500 blogs about my experiences with this, one 1500 page blog, or try to keep it in control and only pass on the good stuff. Yeah, I was hoping for the last one too but if you know me, it’s highly unlikely.

Let’s do this, start with the cast of characters:

The role of stoic (read assaholic) Stoneheadge-looking guy who hates going through the car-buying torture went to me.

Carrie was cast as the “Good Cop,” friendly and engaging.

Joe will be filling the role as the most stereotypical older New York Italian car salesman Hollywood ever produced.

OK, quick synopsis: Carrie did all the research. I wanted an SUV that didn’t look like a grocery-getter and thus ended my input. Carrie bought Consumer Reports, scoured the web, talked to people, and generally educated herself to the hilt on all things having to do with getting the best vehicle that modern technology can produce. I ate Cheet-Os.

The kids wanted a built-in DVD system. We could get a Yugo with one and they would be happy.

Buster wanted anything that smelled like a human crotch.

So that about covers the criteria.

Driving on the lot (akin to putting on the little paper bib and the plastic dam), we weren’t out of our car 2 minutes before Joe came running out. I never even turned around, knowing what was coming. Carrie said hello and I just kept walking to the show Pilot they had parked in the front. This was pretty much representative of my whole style during this entire evolution. I don’t like salesmen and I like car salesmen even less just by virtue that they have the highest potential for the largest butt jabbing of all the various flavors of salesmen.

Carrie started explaining why we were there and I said very little, my attention being on the Pilot and looking like I was goingto kill him any minute. When I spoke, I asked to see the new ones and Joe started to lead us to the back lot (likley tripping his hidden alarm for fear for his health).

This is when a stroke of luck happened. A silver Pilot that looked just like the one we had in mind drove up and it had a huge Eagle, Globe, and Anchor on the window, indicatingthere was a Marine behind the wheel. When the guy got out, I recognized him from a long way back but couldn’t place him. So I told Carrie, the kids, and Joe to go ahead and I’d catch up.

I think I scared this poor guy because I approached him and asked him if we knew each other. It ends up he was the intel chief for 7th Marines when I was the Adjutant. I had happened upon an unbiased owner of the very vehicle I wanted so I took advantage and asked him about it. For the next 20 minutes, he sang the virtues of what was obviously the best vehicle he had ever owned.

Other than the obvious, he turned us onto leather seats. I know what you are about to say and I thought the same thing: too cold in the Winter and too hot in the Summer. But he said that wasn’t a problem and the fact that the two front seats had their own heating, the Winter was no problem. Plus it was a chick magnet (not really but I thought I'd give it a shot).

Then I hit him with us having a big stupid dog. He countered with him having a big stupid lab and the leather was sturdy enough to withstand the beating.

OK, so the leather was a go which is a good thing because to get the EX package (DVD) you had to get leather unless you wanted to special order one with cloth seats and have a DVD put in. Uhhhh.... no.

I asked him if this was a good dealership and he said he was really happy with them and then I asked if there was a particular salesman I should deal with. He pointed to the woman he dealt with who happened to have the last name of the dealership so I thought I had struck gold. But Joe had already started helping us and I guess there is some Car Salesman Code where they can’t edge in on another salesman’s quarry once the talking had begun. I could have pushed it but she assured me she would make sure I’d get a good deal. Like a sucker, I bit.

So now it was all over but the negotiation.

We took it for a test drive and I told Joe, in no uncertain terms, that we didn’t really need the vehicle. We had two perfectly good cars and unless he can make some magic happen, I was satisfied with walking out the door. I wanted to get that established right away. I was such a joy to be around and was spreading sunshine like butter.

Against my better judgment (and to this day, he would be shocked to know), I started to like Joe. Not because he was a smooth salesman but precisely because he wasn’t. I was even on the lookout for him to be the purposely bumbling, endearing salesman but he tried enough of the standard tricks, bumbling them badly, to convince me that he was not faking his bumblness.

He caught wind I was a runner so he tried to talk about how he used to run before his knees gave out. He saw me reading Eating For Life and tried to engage me on my eating habits. He figured I was a Marine so he brought up the fact that his son was a Marine but got out on some shaky circumstances.

At every attempt, I shut it down by either steering the conversation to the vehicle or letting the discussion die on the vine. A little cold-blooded but I was there to buy a vehicle and still be able to look at myself in the mirror the next morning knowing I didn’t roll over with my ass sticking in the air.

The negotiation went back and forth as these things do. There was the base price, the add-ons, and the payments. We had no trade-in (give up Truckasaurus? Are you f%^%$^ kidding me?) and put a couple of grand down payment.

I have been barred by the missus to discuss exact figures but I’ll do what I can to explain this.

I had asked for some extras I knew I wouldn’t get just to have some bargaining chips. Running boards, fog lights, upgraded luggage bar, etc. But some things were not negotiable just because I’m strange.

I wanted a full-size spare. The only donuts I do are Krispy Kremes and now only on Sundays (thanks, Eating For Life!).

I wanted a bug guard for the front because it looks cool.

I wanted a dashmat but that kind of fell through.

So Joe comes back with the base price plus the add-ons and the payments which were about $75 per month too high.

I took a pencil and wrote on the paper: this needs to come down (base price), these can go away (crossed off running boards, fog lights, upgraded luggage bar), and these really need to come down (monthly payments). I then slid the paper back at him in a dismissive manner.

<static> "We have a prick on aisle nine. Aisle nine, prick. <static>.

After that, we really just concentrated on the payments because I told him, “I don’t care how much you charge me for the base or how many of the options you ‘give’ me, I can’t pay more than XX per month for 60 months.

We went through this a few times as he went back and forth. He said “Help me out, give me a range I can work with.”

I gave him a $10 range topping out at the amount I wanted to pay and I didn’t budge. I could tell he was getting tired of running back and forth but each time, he came back with a smaller number.

Then he tried to come back under the amount but it was for 72 months. “Nice try, Joe, but I’m not fully retarded here. Multiply the amount by 12 and that’s how much more I’m not willing to pay.”

Then he came back with 66 months. I sent him back.

Finally, I relented by going up $10 and he came back at $12.

I had the deal I wanted but here is where I blew it. I wanted just that little extra so I said “Throw in the bug guard for free and we have a deal.”

He crossed it off and we shook hands. It was only later that I realized that the bug guard was part of the original deal and he could cross out everything on the sheet but unless the monthly payment went down, I wasn’t getting anything else for “free.”


But I had a new Pilot and we went through the final paperwork to include GAP insurance, extended warranty, and a million other details I’m not all that smart about. I think I have to give lap dances every other Thursday down at the dealership but I’m not sure.

Free Advice for Today:
"Do a good job because you want to, not because you have to. This puts you in charge instead of your boss."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003

Quote of the Day:

"Confession is good for the soul, but bad for your career.”

- Unknown

Friday, March 25, 2005

17 And Still No Fry Pan To The Head

Today officially marks 17 years that my wife has put up with my Circ de Crapole’. Yes folks, 17 years ago in Millington Tennessee’s traffic court, a judge, fresh off the golf course with the shoes to prove it, married an 18-year-old beauty in her prom dress and a skinny 19-year-old Marine Lance Corporal in his green Service “A” uniform.

We had met the year prior in a dance club and after a little over a year, I had graduated high school, joined the Marines, and was going to school in Tennessee. Carrie was coming out to visit me during the summer and we made secret plans to get married because I was a dumb selfish idiot with no regard for our families. OK, I may still be a dumb selfish idiot but I pay more respect to the families these days.

I got a letter from her parents basically saying that if Carrie was coming out, they would rather us get married. This came out of the blue and I jumped for joy at such an unlikely event (remember, she was the oldest of 5 and only 18-years-old). And NOT pregnant you assuming jackasses!!!

So she came out and we got married in town. The base, in order to discourage marriages of the young, lonely population on base, made it difficult and required counseling prior to allowing us to use the chapel. So the judge it was!

Present was my mother and step-father and about 3 or 4 of my Marine buddies. One of them showed up in his Blues, the jerkwad. I didn’t have Blues because you had to buy them and I didn’t have the money. Eh, I never liked that guy anyway.

Carrie wore her prom dress and I was such a moron, I didn’t even think to get her flowers. So our wedding pics show two kids dressed for prom and no flowers. Not exactly a every girl’s dream.

But don’t worry, when I got commissioned in 1997, I sprung for a full blown wedding (dubbed “Renewing Our Vows” or "Emptying The Coffers", either or) with dress (hers, not mine), full Officer Dress Blues (me, not her), and the entire family from both sides.

And yes, there were flowers. What do you think I am, some kind of repetitive jackass?

Do NOT answer that! Geez, ever heard of a rhetorical question?

See, there you go again. THAT was one two. Painful, people, just painful.

So what did we do this year?

OK, don’t go see The Ring 2. The first one was good but this one su-Hucked!! I wanted the kid to die. I really did. DIE! Please, kill off the little bastard!!! PLEEEEASE!

Then it was a night at Smokey Bones for more BBQ than humans should attempt to devour. Lumbering home after the disaster (complete with a tremendous amount of food in a doggie bag, despite my best efforts), the night slipped away a victim of a food coma.

Tell me I ain’t Prince Freakin’ Charmin’!!!

Free Advice for Today:
"Everybody deserves a birthday cake. Never celebrate a birthday without one."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003

Quote of the Day:

"What happens if you get scared half to death twice?”

- Unknown

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Pop Goes My Sanity

I love my daughter. In fact, I love both of my kids and I’m proud that they are involved in things like sports, extracurricular activities at school, and they both are at the top of their class scholastically.

But if I hear “Pop Goes The Weasel” on the piano one more time, I’m crackin’ skulls!!

Years ago, my daughter chose not to play basketball one season and after watching how much fun her brother was having, suddenly reconsidered her stance. Well, it was too late and she got a lesson on the old snooze/lose principle which she reacted to like most little girls: she cried her little girl eyes out.

So what did I do? Well, obviously, I tried to bribe her into happiness like all fathers throughout history. I told her she could get involved in anything she wanted so after dismissing heroin (kidding), she came up with playing the piano.

We bought her a keyboard that plays sounds ranging from classical piano to tortured cat in an oven and she took to it right away. Kitty’s never been the same. No, not really, we don’t even own a cat so no hate mail.

I had some conditions for her though. OK, just one condition: that she would stick with it because we weren’t going to make investments in lessons and keyboards just to have her attention float away with the latest butterfly sighting. She promised and after making her sign a contract in her own blood, we agreed.

Her lessons went fine and it wasn’t even that hard to get her to practice. When we moved to Virginia, divine intervention played its role by providing a piano that came with the house. This was a good thing because I had made a rather retarded promise to her at one point that if she got good enough, I would get her a real piano. I was probably drunk. But I had an out in that I never really defined “good enough” so I could have waited to the Rachmaninoff-level but that would make me, you know, party to complete jackassery.

We found her some lessons in Virginia and the although it costs me more than I want to admit, she really got into the lessons so the money was well spent.

Over the last year, we have had to endure the classic situation of any parent with kids learning musical instruments. I think the worse has been the 12 Days Of Christmas or as I like to refer to it as, Repetitive Ice Picks Through Each Ear.

It’s not that she was bad at it; she was actually pretty good. But you go and listen to the 12 Million Days Of Christmas Hellscape and then come drooling to me for a conversation.

Now it has become Pop Goes The Weasel and I’m pretty sure I’m turning into Jack Nicholson’s character in The Shining.

“I don’t wanna hurt ya, I just want to bash your #$%$#% head in.”

It’s gotten to the point that I actually yell from anywhere in the house “STOP!” when she plays it while Carrie gently asks her to either wait until I’m gone or to play something else.

I don’t want to stifle her talent. Hell, I’m waiting eagerly until she can play Sarah McLachlan songs and her abilities have even encouraged me to entertain taking lessons. But for the love of all that is good in this dark abyss of a world, can we be done with Pop Goes The Weasel?

For Daddy, honey. Please. For the love of Heeeeeeere's Johnny!

Free Advice for Today:
"Treat your employees with the same respect you give your clients."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003

Quote of the Day:

"Two wrongs do not make a right. But three lefts do.”

- Unknown

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Who Let The Dog Out To Get Jacked Up?

Buster got his ass kicked last night.

Don’t know how it happened or the specific details but right before going to bed, I noticed Buster had a bloody scratch over his eye and a small chunk of hair was missing off his snout. Upon further investigation, I found little marks by his lips on either side.

Despite getting grilled by my wife about the specific details as I examined him, I could only assume the situation went something like this.

Buster: hey, one of those furry things I’m always barking at. Here’s my chance. Nowhere for it to go and he’s right here in my back yard. I do believe I will give him some of what my momma refers to as “teeth kisses.”

Cat: Oh no you di’n’t. I wish a motherf*&* would!!!

Buster: I got him, I got him!!!

(… a flurry of razor-sharp claws ala The Matrix…)

Buster: SHIT!

Cat: MMM-hmm. Go on wit yo punk bitch!!

So there you have it. Buster gets a little lesson on kitty cats and Carrie gets to play vet by putting peroxide and Neosporin on the damn dog.

And if you think that’s bad, I’ll just go ahead and admit that old Buster sleeps next to me every night…under the covers. Note that he’s about 60 pounds and despite us having a California King-size bed, he still seems to take up most of my leg room. Or if the mood strikes and he decides to be on top of the covers, he traps the covers so that I’m in a cocoon all night.

I am thoroughly convinced that my sleeping suffers because of this but I don’t see any way out of it at this point. If I shoo him off the bed, he just lays pitifully by the bed and makes me feel guilty. Then he jumps up anyway when I go to sleep.

OK, tough guy, YOU try your little suggestions when you get THIS look.

That’s what I thought.

Free Advice for Today:
"Share your knowledge and experiences."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003

Quote of the Day:

"Insanity is my only means of relaxation.”

- Unknown

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Deep Fried Tostadas Are Runner's Fuel, Right?

I must share my favorite meal with all of you. Well, not literally because I will beat you in the grill with long wooden objects if you threaten my plate. When it's "Tostada Night" at the Groses, well, check the self-control at the door.

Here are the shells, naked and deep fried to a golden perfection, waiting for the rest of the tostada. MMMMM….

Left to right:

1. Sour cream and I have two things to say about it:

- It’s light!
- I don’t eat any of it. YUCK!!!

2. Chopped up tomatoes. Yeah, what about that, huh?

3. Pace Picante sauce in Costco proportions.

4. Cheese to be grated

5. Fresh lettuce

6. Pan full of canned refried beans

7. Pan of sopa fideo (Not "sopa bendejo" as my buddy Brent liked to chant. He's in Iraq so I bet his tune would be a little different right now!)

8. Another jar of hot sauce. The hot stuff I don’t eat.

The deep fryer outside that does the shells and the Freedom fries. It calls to me at night and I cry.
First shot of my dinner: sopa on the left, tostadas on the right, and punks in the trunk!!!!
Add the beer and put it on a tray for the downstairs trip and voila'!!! Heaven on Earth!!!

And now on to a completely unrelated topic: I can't seem to lose the extra Winter pounds. I mean I just can't put this puzzle together. I run and I run and I run but still, why the plateau? I got a marathon to run in 6 weeks and I'd like to lose about 15 pounds at least! Work with me here!!

<wipes tostada remnants from mouth>

So I'll try to crack this nut and figure out where the guilty party is hiding. Until then, Spring is here and you know what that means!!!


Free Advice for Today:
"When a guest, never complain about food, drink, or accommodations."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003

Quote of the Day:

"It is said that if you line up all the cars in the world end to end, someone would be stupid enough to try and pass them.”

- Unknown

Monday, March 21, 2005

Search Me, I Don't Know!

If you haven't noticed, I have a search engine from a company called WrenSoft just for my site. For the history of how it came to be, you'll have to go here and read but suffice it to say, it was before Google offered individualized service and when my webpage started to get so big, I was having trouble remembering where things were. So this tool was as much a God-send to me as it was to my guests. (... said as though thousands were lamenting over a lack of searchability of my site). And now that I blog, it's next to impossible to find one particular topic among the thousands I babble about daily. Prolificacy has its drawbacks. (go ahead, look it up… I’ll wait….)

For years, I've enjoyed this free little app from WrenSoft and once a week or so, I launched a local indexing program from them that updates the search. Then I would upload the results to the site and voila, search capability de’jour!!!

But alas, not all is well in the land of free search engine. (Now THAT would be a place to get your St. Patty's Day party on!!!). My bubble of impenetrability was stabbed recently when, and you might want to hide the kids' eyes for this one..... the search DID NOT WORK AS EXPECTED!!!!

I got an email from someone asking about the song "Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover" by Sophie B. Hawkins. I responded by asking how they knew I had that song and they told me because I had listed it as one of the songs I put on my MP3 player when I wrote a blog about it (likely one of the entries I always get mail-o-rama about wondering why I listen to people like Sophie B. Hawkins.)

OK, no problem, I thought. I'll go to the handy-dandy search engine, type in "Sophie" and get.... NOTHING!! (Scooby Doo "Huh?")

OK, I did get a link to a book list that had an author by that name but no link to the blog. I found the blog by going directly to that particular blog and sure enough, the name was there.

There is the name, there is the search, why don't they connect?

I won't bore you with...OK, you talked me into it.

I re-indexed my page and even witnessed that particular blog file being scanned. But no matter what I did, I couldn't get it to pull up that link on the hit list. I wondered if there was a limit to the number of pages or number of words indexed but it was JUST a smidgen above my knowledge to figure this out so I did what I always do in these situation.

After all the crying was over, I made a decision: WrenSoft can kiss my white ass!!! I'm going Google!!!!

Doing my research I discovered you can get a mini-Google. I love Google. I read GNews, I have Gmail, the Google ToolBar, and the Google Desktop Search. I even have the Google Porn Aggregator. I'm all Googled up so I thought this would be one more link in my whoring to all things Google.

My first attempt was not successful. I tried to put in the script IN ADDITION TO my search engine and you are only begging for trouble if you put two scripts on the same page, especially if you are at an ant-like level with programming and suck. So I trashed the whole WrenSoft code and went full on Google.

I did my search for "Sophie" and with all the positive expectations in the world clicked the "Submit" button (an ironic command if I’ve ever seen one) and was rewarded with.... A big old goose egg. OK, it did find the other reference like WrenSoft did but no blog.

WTF??!!!! Why is this so tough?

I was so disgusted with the situation that I simply left the Google search up there for awhile (thanks for noticing, by the way).

Researching Saturday's blog, I knew that I had written a blog entry about the Hootie concert last year and wanted to reference it. Using the Google search on my site, well, it had troubles. Once again, I didn't find what I was looking for.

Now it seems to me that with a site as big as mine, it should find every reference of every word. I mean the site might be big for a personal site but still, not so big that the behemoth Google couldn't index every word for me. I mean, come on, you're playing in the big league now, Google!

So I wrote to Google to try to explain. Now I’m pretty devoid of ego but I had to draw the line at describing a search for “Hootie.” So I used another search word that I had similar troubles finding. “Alamo.” I discovered it didn’t show up either despite my detailed blog entry of how I visited the Alamo last year.

And risking saying something bad about Google, I found it difficult to wade through the screens to finally get to a place to ask my question. The first one I tried and sent it off to came back right after I submitted (to) the form to tell me thanks for the comments but they don't answer individually.


But I think I got through my second try because I got a response. Here is the exchange.

Original Message Follows:
From: jason@grose.us
Subject: Search results dn't show up in my site search
Date: Thu, 10 Mar 2005 21:15:09 -0000

Specifically, I was looking to find results from the blog files on my site. I tried "Alamo" and none of my blog files showed up. It should have shown http://www.grose.us/blog/2004_10Oct.html.

Please help.

IssueType: dissatisfied

(let me interrupt this exchange to point out that rechecking after I sent this email, "Alamo" actually worked AND I totally punted the date on the expected return URL. And don't think that I overlooked my mispeeling of the oldest Spelling Bee standard deal breaker "don't" in the subject line. Good Gravy!!!)

(from Google)

Thank you for your note. We understand that you'd like your blog entries to be listed as a result for specific keywords. Please note that we do not manually assign keywords to webpages, nor can webmasters submit a list of preferred keywords for which their pages will appear.

The best way to ensure that your site will return for your preferred keywords is to include them on your pages. Our crawler analyzes the content of webpages in our index to determine the search queries for which they're most relevant. If you create an information-rich site that clearly and accurately describes your topic, it's likely that your site will return for your desired keywords.

Keep in mind that your site may be returning for these keywords but may not appear in the first few pages of results. If you suspect that this is the case, you can use our site operator to see if your site returns for particular keywords. For more information about our advanced operators, please visit http://www.google.com/help/operators.html. In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their site by increasing the number of high-quality sites that link to their pages. You can learn more about how Google ranks pages at http://www.google.com/technology/index.html. Also, we always recommend reviewing our tips for creating and maintaining a "Google-friendly" website at http://www.google.com/webmasters/guidelines.html

In addition to our free web search results, we offer advertising on our site. Our AdWords program offers a fast and affordable way to promote your website to your target audience using keywords you select. Within minutes, your ad could appear on Google. Note that AdWords participation does not affect your site's listing in our search results. To learn more about the AdWords program, please visit https://adwords.google.com/select/

The Google Team

You know what, Google Team?

Whiff and a miss!!!

You see, they did not understand and frankly, I just didn't have the strength to fight the standard form response monster. Fine. You win. I submit, or rather won’t submit. I’ll let it be, let it be, whisper words of wisdom, let it be.

So I decided to give WrenSoft another shot. Sorry about all that name calling <guilty look>. We’re still good, right?

Apparently not because the thought occurred to me that maybe they had updated the software since 2002 so I took a gander at the website.

Well, I was right, they did upgrade the search app to include a new hefty price. What happened to the "FREE" aspect of the whole deal? Oh, it's still there but the free version is about as useful as teets on a .... anything that you refer to as having "teets" would pretty much fit the bill here so I'll let you add your own noun. Go ahead and use anything you like, even Ed Asner if the mood strikes.

It was $49 buckaroos for the standard version and $99 for the enterprise version.

Looking at the stats, it would take the enterprise version to do what I needed it to do and $99 was about $98 out of my price range so I was forced to dive into the free 2002 code and try to make some magic happen.

I increased the max number of words indexed and pages scanned with the result of the script crapping the proverbial bed so I ratcheted it back until it would take.

If you are still with me, you are likely saying to yourself, “Gee, Jason, did you get it to work?

Well, go check for yourself!!!

NO! Since you asked. <pouting look>

So I have to deal with the reality that my search engine will not find some stuff on my site until I get the stones to shill out 100 bones.

Ooooh, how I hate in-fighting between my cheap-assedness and my perfectionism.

Had enough? Me, too, that's it.

Free Advice for Today:
"Remember that you can miss a lot of good things in life by having the wrong attitude."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003

Quote of the Day:

"There are 3 kinds of people: those who can count & those who can't.”

- Unknown

Sunday, March 20, 2005


Today is the first day of Spring so I thought I would take inventory of the winter.

It didn’t seem to snow as much as last year and overall, I don’t think I suffered the early sunsets and seemingly endless commutes in the dark as much as last year either.

But I didn’t do too well with training. In Monterey, I could train year around and there were no Winter Blues. In 29 Palms, it was actually better training since your shoes didn’t melt on the runs like summer training. But here in Virginia, it’s like seriously cold and I seemed to absorb every sickness that came near me. I missed more work this winter than all my years in 29 Palms and Monterey combined. I was sickly.

So, to recap, it was a milder winter than last and I wimped out of training and got sick a lot more. Hmmm, not a great winter.

But there was football. And there were fires in the fireplace. And there was long naps and lazy weekends. There was no need to mow the lawn. There was no way to wash the cars. There was Christmas. There was…hmmmm…

Now Spring is here. I know because the calendar told me and today, it was actually warmer outside than inside my house. Despite the reason for wandering around my back yard (picking up Buster crap piles while humming “It’s been awhile, since I picked up Buster’s shit” to the tune of Staind’s “It’s Been Awhile”), I realized that Spring was here and I had a peace about it.

Soon, we will be moving the clocks forward (losing an hour of sleep in the morning which I will bitch about for a week), rolling the sleeves up on our uniforms (which will cause me to be cold and I will bitch about it for two weeks), and enjoying the long, warm days of Spring. I can’t wait.

Here are my goals. I will increase my running to a respectable training level to reflect my aggressive racing schedule. This should help cut those pounds I need to shed that, OK, sure, I’ll blame on the winter hibernation argument. Why not.

I will have to control my sleeping. Sometimes it gets a little out of control so I will have to manage it along with my diet. Running (increase), eating (decrease), and sleeping (level out). These are the three pillars I must get in sync if I ever want to get anywhere.

I will also be more into the home front which means doing things with the family, seeing places on the weekends, keeping up with lawn care, helping out in the garden, and donating time and effort to the house. In other words, stop being a domestic jackass.

So, that’s the plan. Nothing spectacular but I like transition milestones. Goodbye winter. Hello spring. Now let’s take it easy on the rain. Save it for the night when I’m leveling out my sleep.

Free Advice for Today:
"Don't flaunt your success, but don't apologize for it either."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003

Quote of the Day:

"A Purple Heart just proves that you were smart enough to think of a plan, stupid enough to try it and lucky enough to survive.”

- Unknown

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Hootie Got Himself A Job

Have you seen the new Burger King commercial with Hootie?

Now I like Hootie. In fact, I’ve been to his concert twice in my life and yes, I know that the lead singer is named Darius Rucker and that he doesn’t like it when people refer to him as “Hootie.” But not only is he the lead singer to a band called “Hootie & The Blowfish” but if you have seen this new commercial, I have all the justification I need for calling this guy anything I want.

If you have not seen this commercial, you are going to think I made this up.

Weird Thing #1: Hootie (snicker) is dressed up like Howdy Dooty and plays a guitar while singing a twangy country and western-link song expounding the Utopia of some alternate Burger King Land.

Weird Thing #2: the whole commercial is “off” like a dream with oversized, unrelated objects and weird angles. Kind of like the set of the Wizard Of Oz.

Weird Thing #3: they brought back the guy dressed up as Burger King with the big oversized head.

Weird Thing #4: along with Hootie, there is a random cast of attractive people, mostly models of both sexes.

Now doing a little research, the discussion boards seem abuzz about this whole commercial. Some people thing that the woman on the ladder picking Whoppers out of a tree is the porn star Jenna Jamison. The lyric that is sung at this point is “…the breasts they grow on trees…

On a swing is the male magazine staple Brooke Burke telling the audience to “Come and get it!

There are two women on a hand rail cart (the kind you pump up and down to make it go … stop it!) and one of them has the name “Vida” printed on the back of her short-shorts. It ends up this is a model who recently rocked the FHM world with her …well… she is known for…. um… her assets. I guess she’s the “It” girl right now in the world of the derriere and her name is Vida Guerra. The lyric while showing her is: "... there's a train of ladies comin' with a nice caboose."

So we have two male magazine models, a porn star, Hootie, and a scary big-headed Burger King guy. They also throw in a row of Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders and two gorgeous milk maidens penduling their legs back and forth in slow motion while sampling in unison buckets of ranch dressing with their fingers. No sexual connotation there.

Like I said earlier, I like Hootie. I’ve loved his music since way back and have never found any reason not to like him. A lot of his fans were all upset about him selling out in such a demeaning way but hey, the guy is an entertainer and if you haven’t noticed, Hootie hasn’t been at the top of the charts for a long time.

To me, it’s all good. I mean, it’s funny to put him in this situation and to me, all he’s ever been is a guy who sings good songs that you makes you feel good. He sang about race, about love, about pain, and was a staple in my 90’s soundtrack. But he’s stayed within his boundaries and I have no problem with that, especially considering how much I detest the “entertainers” who feel they must use their celebrity as a bully pulpit and who consider their opinion more worthy of exposure than anyone else’s.

Hootie is Hootie. He even admitted way back that all he does is sing good pop songs; nothing more, nothing less. So good on you Hootie, I hope they paid you well and they bring you back.

Here are the words to the commercial song he sings:

When my belly starts a-rumblin', and I'm jonesin' for a treat.
I close my eyes for a big surprise, the Tendercrisp Bacon Cheddar Ranch.

I love the Tendercrisp Bacon Cheddar Ranch, the breasts they grow on trees.
And streams of bacon ranch dressing, flow right up to your knees.
Tumbleweeds of bacon, and cheddar paves the streets.

Folks don't [Unintelligable] ya cause ya got the juice, there's a train of ladies comin' with a nice caboose.
Never get in trouble, never need an excuse, the Tendercrisp Bacon Cheddar Ranch.

I love the Tendercrisp Bacon Cheddar Ranch no one tells ya to behave.
Your wildest fantasies come true, Dallas cheerleaders give you shaves.
Red onions make you laugh instead, and French fries grow like weeds.
Ya get to veg all day, all the lotto tickets pay.
The king who wants you to have it your way, that's the Tendercrisp Bacon Cheddar Ranch.

Free Advice for Today:
“Don't let your possessions possess you."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003

Quote of the Day:

"OK, who stopped payment on my reality check?”

- Unknown

Friday, March 18, 2005

Unamusement Parking

The first time I was dumb enough to commit was July 1, 2004. Then I accompanied my family to the season ender. Today was the opening of King’s Dominion and I would sooner prevent the sun from rising than successfully preventing my kids from going to the event. To add to the excitement, they had a new ride by the soothing name of Tomb Raider Fire Fall. I didn’t like any of those words, much less all of them used together. But alas, I had no choice. It was Gold Member Night which meant not what you gutter-brained people so nastily envisioned but in fact that if they had talked you into getting a season pass, you could come visit tonight without the approximately 48 billion people that will be arriving tomorrow, the official opening for all.

The first order of business was getting my season pass. Carrie had bought it at the end of last season but I hadn’t been there so I was the only one left to get my picture taken.

You think a driver’s license picture is bad? Oh, no, my friend. Compared to the King’s Dominion ID, the driver’s license is something near Glamour Shots. When the lady handed me the ID, I looked at it and realized no other human being on the face of the earth, other than those absolutely necessary, would ever see this picture. Good Lord, I looked like I had just got back from a month in Vegas or something.

Anyway, the park was open from 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM so I had a little under 4 hours to explore the glee that is amusement park bliss. The kids were literally hopping around with joy and the fact that only a handful of rides were even open did not seem to diminish their excitement.

The first ride we went on was not too bad. Now understand I have the nerve of Barney Fife when it comes to these rides but I’m doing better than my wife who specializes in watching the stuff while I go with the munchkins. The kids, well, they have no fear. None. Zip.

This first ride was the Avalanche.

(Not me or my spawn)

It was kind of false advertising but because it benefited me, I was OK with it. See, it had this long incline at first like all roller coaster rides. Click, click, click, click……as we climbed but the kids kept telling me there were not big drops. I was thinking there’d better not be because I’d hate to beat them down in public.

They spoke the truth about this one and the only unnerving aspect was that once it pushed you over the top, there was no connection mechanism. What I mean is that it was like a free riding coaster car that rode down the track which looked like those big, twisty waterslides. The realization hit that we really weren’t connected to anything and I sucked up just a bit of coaster seat material. Just a little. And I left it there so no harm, no foul.

With this warm up, it was time to hit The Volcano.

Wrongness. Just ... wrongness.
"Yeah... I just shit my pants...weeeeeeee......."

This left me a bit apprehensive (read: scared shitless) because it was dubbed the fastest inverted suspended roller coaster in the world. Great. Just what I was hoping for as detailed in my new book “Must-Do’s In Hell.”

I wait my turn much like Bessie in the slaughter line and when it’s my turn to get hooked in, I’m not a happy camper. In fact, I’m a very unhappy, nervous, ready-to-blow-mud kind of camper. I sit in the suspended contraption that looks like a ski-lift chair from a madman’s nightmare and they pull the shoulder harness over me and clip it to the seatbelt between my legs which are dangling free.

Don’t worry Dad, it’s really fun” came the pixie voice of my daughter strapped in next to me. Out loud, I said “Thanks, Sweetie.” Inside, I wondered if I could manage a kick for both the kids for talking me into this. After careful consideration, I realized I was strapped in so tight that I couldn’t swat a fly away from my nostrils if I had to. So I made a mental note to Pearl Harbor-slap them if we made it through this ordeal.

“Are you ready?” asked the 16-year-old kid running the ride. What if I wasn’t, Corky? In fact, now that you asked, NO, no I’m not ready. In fact, I don’t know if I’ve ever been so NOT ready for anything in my entire life. But thanks for asking you little…

This was about the time that we accelerated to 70 miles per hour in a few seconds. I say a few seconds because that’s what they tell me. To me, these “few seconds” were roughly equivalent to what I imagine the last “few seconds” of a plane crash as it hurls toward earth.

I let a low moan escape as we darted through a dark tunnel. I could tell that all my internal organs were just hanging out, uninformed at what was about to happen and instantly, they all were frozen in fear thinking “What the….?”

There WAS a “rest of the ride.” I’m sure of it because I vaguely remember coming in to offload area and I’m pretty sure I got off the ride and continued on my way. So the fact that I’m sitting here typing this is proof positive that there was a beginning, a during, and an end to the ride. I’ve described the beginning and becauseI can kinda remember the end and that I’m not still there, I have to assume the middle part did indeed happen.

But ask me what happing during “the during.” Go ahead, it’s not a trick. Go ahead and ask me. Go on..

“What happened…”


So, that was that.

Then there was The Scrambler which is proof that God is indeed messing with me. We waited in line, got on the ride, and then it broke when they tried to turn it on. So we got off the ride and left.

It was at this time that the kids gathered the nerve to try the new Tomb Raider ride. Because I am a semi-intelligent man with a vivid imagination, is it too much of a stretch to convince you of my concern? I mean, we get off a broken ride that time has tested for years in order to go on a ride that opened, oh, I don’t know (looks at his watch) a FEW HOURS AGO!!!!

And then there was the conversation with the guy who had also just left the Scrambler and who joyfully claimed that he was the reason it broke. Great, and this was the guy going to the same ride as me next. So I cold-cocked him and hid his body in the bushes. Don’t worry, he still had a pulse and while humming the theme to “Bourne Supremacy,” I put a note next to him thanking him “for a good time.” I don’t think he’ll be reporting ANYTHING.

Let me try to simplify the explanation of this ride. OK, it’s just a regular sit-down, outside ride (not a coaster or an inside, theme ride like I thought it was going to be). It has two big supports on each side and in between these is a long row of seats on a spindle set-up connected to each side support. The two long rows of seats, facing back to back to each other, rotate like a big Ferris Wheel but the kick is that while it’s Ferris Wheeling, the actual rows of seats are also rotating on the spindle so that sometimes the passengers are upside down and are wildly spun forward and back in a whipping motion while the whole ride rotates. Below is water and fire effects that shoot up at certain times and the whole time, eerie movie music is making the whole thing even more dramatic. Here is a pic I found of what it looks like.

Amazingly enough, I liked this ride. The Volcano, not so much. In fact, to get me to go back on The Volcano would involve firearms pointing at my temples but the Tomb Raider, I went on three or four times. So you could say I got on and rode the Tomb Raider a few times.

After this, we decided to give the Scrambler one more try. I mean, it was working now and what are the chances of it breaking again? (You DO see where this is going, don’t you?). We waited in line and was stopped for the second time right at the front of the line, putting us at the first for the next ride, just like last time. We ran for our cars when our turn came and joked about it not working again this time because we were once again first in line.

Yeah, it didn’t work again, despite us just watching two turns with no problems. You just can’t make this stuff up.

A bit later, I was forced to go on the Scooby Doo ride. Now I watched Scooby Doo as much as the next kid who grew up in the 70s, hell probably more. But now as an adult, I’m pretty much sure that Shaggy was a drug addict, Fred’s wardrobe and lack of attention to Daphne made him suspect in my eyes, and Velma was beyond suspect as full-on lesbian.

I overcame my issues and agreed to participate in what I thought was just a sit-down stroll through a lame-ass set up ala It’s A Small World at Disneyland. The “cars” only sat two so the kids went ahead and Carrie joined me in the next car. I swear, she told me “Don’t worry, at least you’re sitting down and don’t have to do anything.”

The next thing I know, she’s telling me to pick up the toy gun and that I have to shoot things. Hey, I thought you said there would be no effort involved here? Come on, it’s the end of the night and I want to get something to eat, go home, and go to bed.

Well, here’s the deal. The little car drove you through these scenes which have little targets lit with a beam of light. The toy gun is nothing but a little laser pointer and you have to hit the sensor to get credit. Once you hit the sensor, that’s it. You can’t re-engage nor can the other person get points from it. There is a display on the dashboard that tracks the number of points.

OK, all of that I learned over the course of the first 30 seconds of the ride. Suddenly, I found myself engaged with the enemy and not noticing anything but little light-targets. Carrie was ahead of me because she knew everything before we stepped foot in it and I was behind the learning curve.

I was really kind of pissed because I felt I had been tricked and now it was a competition. I couldn’t control the beam as well as I wanted but I soon got the hang of it and was knockin’ out fools left and right.

At the end, I came out victorious with about 1400 points to Carrie’s 900 or so. Don’t ask how much each target was worth, I don’t know. I just asked her what she expected. I AM a Marine, after all. I mean, if I can’t hit pop out targets in a darkened setting, what the hell good am I? (Yes, I did take pride in beating all of the scores of my family but it was them that wanted to compare.). So if the terrorists take the form of ghosts and old men who have a disdain for meddling teenagers, I’m ready to defend this great Nation again.

We did finally go back to the Scrambler, giving it a third try. This time, it worked which is a good thing because I might have gone postal if it broke again. And if the teenager running the Scrambler knew who he was messing with, one peek into the Scooby Doo ride would tell him, I’m not a man to be trifled with. (fade out with Scooby Doo laugh…)

Free Advice for Today:
“Remember that what you give will afford you more pleasure than what you get."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003

Quote of the Day:

"43.3% of statistics are meaningless!”

- Unknown

Thursday, March 17, 2005

I Got The Power!

I didn’t know I had the power but I guess this blog has become so powerful that the mere mention of an event can evoke reality. What am I talking about? After yesterday’s post, I pulled up the news this morning and read about yet another celebrity’s brush with the law. Now I know Lil’ Kim is no Gary Coleman or anything (then again, maybe she’s Arnold in drag!!!), but the fact remains that I made things happen through the power of my blog.

I must remember use my powers for good. BTW, if I’m creating reality, what about my rich-as-a-bastard post, there, Fate? Huh? As long as you’re spinning the Roulette Wheel of Fortune, let’s go for the mon-ay, por favor.

Then there’s the whole baseball on steroids news but mapping the stars-legal matters to athlete-Congressional hearings is a bit of a stretch. And I don’t want to pull anything.

Speaking of pulling something, I have to tell you about my track workout today. For a long time, I’ve known that I’ve neglected this necessary workout and if I ever wanted to get serious about running, I would have to educate and perform the dreaded track loops. So I asked around and was told I should start out with doing a workout once a week and for my introduction, just do six 800 meter loops broken up by some rest walks.

Sounds simple enough. Cool, seems like it beats the 5 miles I was going to do. Let’s do it!!! (Said to myself as “self” was saying “Let’s? Who you talking to? Don’t start this mind/body separation thing where you pit one against the other. It can only lead to trouble.”)

Body: "yeah!"

Both of you shut up and let me get back to my story.

The first thing I had to do was to figure out something really simple but to find out required me to look really stupid. The question: how long is one lap of the track behind the gym?

Now before you snicker (which is too late for you, right there, yeah, you, you condescending bastard!) let me explain that I never ran track in high school and all the running I’ve ever done was measured in miles. I never had much exposure to a track so despite my running resume over the years, there was no way to know what metrics were used except if you want to go with the amorphous argument of “general knowledge” which goes something like “everybody know that.”

Well, there goes your argument because I fall under the population of “everyone” and I didn’t know. So…. (sticks his tongue out)…

Body: "yeah!"

Shut up, Body.

Ooooh, CRAMP!!!

The first person I asked was a guy I had seen in the gym. I stopped him in the hallway and asked him with all the serious I could muster while asking him what could appear to be a very stupid question on par with “When was the War of 1812 fought?”

Looking at me rather oddly, he said “440.”

Just so we wouldn’t part with a shred of possibility that I had anything in my head other than Bazooka Gum, I intelligently followed up with “Yards?”

No. Meters.”

I think he wanted to give me my sign.

Walking off, this exchange kind of threw me because I was convinced it was 400 meters around the track (thus the attempt to mentally justify “440” as yards, hoping the conversion to meters might just work out to 400. Please DON’T do the math and explain to me how laughably off that assumption was. I don’t even want to know.)

This presented a problem because exactly 800 meters around a track that was 440 meters was entirely too much math for me. Gathering all the intellect and problem-solving capabilities I could muster, I just did the obvious: totally discounted the conversation and convinced myself it was 400 meters.

Gee, that was easy.

So I would do 2 laps at a pace 30 seconds faster than my norm, walk a lap, and repeat five more times.

The first thing to go by the wayside once I got there was “a pace 30 seconds faster than my norm.” This mutated into “just run real fast, Jason.”

Cool, game plan complete.

I got to the middle of the long side of the track and took off.

Rounding the first end, the thought hit me that this was going to simple. I was flying, felt no pain, and could keep this horserace feel up for two wimpy little laps. Bah, and they call this tough!

This thought lasted until I got to the starting mark after one lap. By then, it had transmogrified into “Good God in Heaven, who sliced open my chest with a rusty spoon and soaked my lungs with Napalm?”

The second lap was akin to Stevie Wonder performing your root canal sans Novocain. But I got to the end, looked around me, took inventory of what I had just accomplished, and exclaimed… “What the f#^*?~!!!!!”

Despite the pain that convinced me I had somehow misplaced approximately one half of my lung capacity somewhere, I realized that a full lap of walking would take entirely too long. I made the snap decision to cut it in half and go with the half lap walk. I think it was delirium.

You will not believe what I’m about to tell you because I would not believe it if it didn’t happen to me. This busload of cheerleaders… oops, wrong story. By the time I got around to the other start line, I had caught my breath and the second set was not as bad as the first. Did I slow down? I don’t think so, I think I did on the first lap which enabled me to run faster on the second. I was more in control rather than going out of the gates like an idiot and burning out in the first lap. OK, I’m a quick study, thanks for the lesson.

By the third set, I thought it was high time to start timing these things. I had hesitated in doing this because I have this stupid self-competition streak in me that I knew I would keep trying to get faster each set until my lungs burst out of my chest and ran for the woods.

So I timed the third set and came across the line at 3:25. What that means, I have no idea but if the track is accurate, then two laps is a half mile which puts my pace at 6:50 per mile (see, the easy math is stunningly simple for me). Considering that I try to maintain 10 minute miles in training and 9 minute miles while racing, I was doing good.

But I could do better (damn streak!!!!).

So the fourth set, I pushed it a little but still did not go all out since I knew it was only going to get worse. I came across the line, feeling pretty good, and was happy to see a 3:17 on my watch. For you math whizzes, that’s 6:34 pace.

Now I was screwed. Because I wanted my sixth and last set to be the fastest but I had a fifth to contend with. It had to be faster than 3:17 but I had to save something for the last set. This really worried me and I decided to go in a controlled push for the entire fifth set and then an uncontrolled rage in the last.

This plan lasted about ¼ lap when I realized I didn’t have enough juice, mentally or physically, to pull this off. So a quick negotiation period went on and I came up with “save yourself this time and next set we will crush the clock.”

OK, I can live with that so I slowed down and just lopped along. My main focus was on taking it easy and reserve energy. Screw the time, I was saving for the grand finale.

So you can see why I was so surprised when I waltzed across the finish line and a meandering pace, thinking I would be no where near any of my other times. My watch told me 3:24 which is a second faster than the first fiasco with bolting out of the gate. It just didn’t feel that fast and I was amazed.

But this amazement was short lived because I had a mental game on my doorstep.

I gave myself the advantage of a full lap to walk and a swallow of water. The extra time gave me time to consider what my plan was.

I knew that there is a point in a run where you want to give up. The pull is so strong that it takes a huge burst of will power to push through it and ignore what your body AND mind is telling you: STOP!!!!

I worry about this moment. I’ve listened before. I’ve been utterly convinced it was the right thing to do and when all the adrenaline goes away, I look back and realize I failed that day and I was not strong enough to turn away that convincing argument deep inside.

I don’t know if you can do much beforehand to prepare for this. I’ve said you can’t and it’s just an “in-the-moment” decision that you make for which you cannot build up any resistance too. Some people call it courage and I assume it’s the same moment in combat when you never know until it happens whether you will rush the enemy machine gun or curl up in the fetal position.

I was simply afraid that I would give up at that moment. I’m always scared of this moment no matter how many times I defeat it. I still feel like Braveheart in the scene when he’s shackled up in the prison on the morning of his execution and he prays over and over “Please let me die well.” He didn’t want to crack at the most important moment and neither did I.

By the time I got to the start line, I had my plan worked out. Go out strong, accelerate around the corners, lengthen the stride on the straight aways, and when I feel like slowing down, accelerate. I can die at the end but just keep the form, take in deep breaths, and don’t contort my face. Be the mask of control. Pump the arms straight forward and back with hands like blades.

The first lap went by fast but I had decided not to look at my watch until the end. It would only waste movement and mental energy. I did everything I planned to do during that lap and the pain was minimal. Going around the next corner, it started to hurt a lot more and I just ignored it. Get to the straight away!!! I kept saying to myself. I knew that I could lengthen my stride and get in a rhythm and that’s just what happened.

The last corner was where the battle was to be fought. Getting to it, my lungs exploded, my quads were on fire, and I heard every voice that ever tried to pull me down scream at me at once.

“You’re fat!”
“You’re slow!”
“You don’t eat right!”
“You’re too old for this!”
“You’ve already ran this 5 times, you’re done!!!”

At the same time, every pain imaginable ratcheted up. Lungs seized, legs ached, even my back was spasming.

This was the moment and I had to go forward or let it feast on me.

Not today, you son-of-a-BITCH!!!

I accelerated around the corner and couldn’t breath. I watched as my arms pumped up to ear level and back as far as my shoulder blades allowed. I saw my feet extend so far that my heels were the first to hit and the only limiting factor was the physical restrictions of my hips.

Crossing the line, I was glad that I couldn’t decide if I was going to faint or vomit. Because I couldn’t decide, I did neither but I was a micron away from to each.

Looking at my watch, I was rewarded. I had run the two laps in 2:56 or 5:52 per mile pace.

I was done.

I was happy.

I got the power.

Free Advice for Today:
“Think twice before accepting a job that requires you to work n an office with no windows."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003

Quote of the Day:

"If you want to see a comic strip, you should see me in the shower.”

- Groucho Marx

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Death For You, You're Free To Go, And You Get Your Hands Where We Can See Them

Today was a day of verdicts and like the Super Bowl, if I didn’t make a blog out of today’s events, well, they would come and take my blogging card. Frankly, I don’t want to loose the tin foil.

Scott Peterson was sentenced to death. Much like Jimmy cracking corn, I really don’t care. Not that I think offing your pregnant wife is a good thing but the fact that the whole Lacy Peterson thing got more publicity than anything else in 2004, especially in the magazines, made me a little jaded to the whole thing. For me, the big shame now is that it will unleash another tsunami of tabloid bull$hit. Steady, Jason… just ride it out.

Then there’s Robert Blake who was acquitted today of ironically the same crime: killing the missus. This came as a huge shock to me not because I thought he did it. Again, I don’t really care because people get dead every day and that’s why we have these trial thing-a-ma-bobs.

The reason I was shocked was the closing arguments by Blake’s lawyers.

“And to sum up our over-arching argument, my client could have not possibly have committed this heinous murder. You see how old he is, how frail he is. We contend that, in fact, the defendant could NOT have done the crime because, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, we all know that he…could…not…do…the…time!!! (pounding fist at each syllable)

We rest our case.”

Whispers to Mr. Blake, “We got this one, Beretta.”
Robert Blake, “When all this is over, I want to take you to dinner. I know a nice Italian restaurant.”

Now that the Peterson circus is coming to an end and Robert Blake can start looking for another wife to murder, the public’s blood thirst would seem to be in danger. Hell, even Martha Stewart’s jailhouse tattoo is starting to wear off. What is an enquiring society to do in such lean times?

But wait… there’s still the Michael Jackson spectacle. A ghoulish, has-been freak with no sense of reality being tried for partaking in boy-parfaits? Oh, thank God but please, please drag this one out long enough for Gary Coleman to off a hooker or one of the Olson twins to beat Bill Cosby half to death with an aluminum baseball bat. Pleeeeeease.

Free Advice for Today:
“When you find something you really want, don't let a few dollars keep you from getting it."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003

Quote of the Day:

"I want to die peacefully in my sleep like my grandfather. Not screaming in terror like his passengers."

- Unknown

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Come Play With Me

Today I did a bit of daydreaming. Yes, it might shock you but I had fun coming up with a scenario that might seem shallow to some and philanthropic to others. Many people claim to have done this but I think I took it to a whole new level once I realized that I had never really put much thought into it.

What was this mysterious mental exercise? Simple: What would I do if I had an insane amount of money. I mean like Power-Ball-Oprah-Bill Gates kinds of funds.

Let me head off those of you that will undoubtedly chastise me for not helping the poor, donating to charities, etc. I’m sure that I would get around to that but what I spent more than a few moments today imagining scenarios nearer to the end of the spectrum that borders on vulgar abuse of wealth. So here goes.

I would get a lawyer and have him figure out how much money, adjusted for today’s dollars, my father owed my mother for child support over the 18 years he neglected to pay her. I would then show up and hand her a check for the full amount.

It seems to me that the amount paid should be distributed by 3 (Mom, Chris, and me). So I would go over to my brother’s house and present him with a check for 1/3 the amount. (I know, I paid Mom the full but I will overlook that. She did a bang-up job.)

Next, I would use the same lawyer to figure out a similar amount that my father didn’t pay his second wife for my two half-sisters. Splitting that amount into thirds, each of my half-sisters would get similar checks and the one to my ex-step mother would accompany a warning to back off and never threaten to sic the authorities on my father ever again.

To my elderly Grandmother: name it, Grandma. The sky is the limit. The lower limit.

Dad, you get a nice house in Seattle, a reliable car, and send all utility bills to me. Also all outstanding loan amounts and names of people you owe.

Shane: need a house? How about tuition?

Rob: well, what do you get a rich doctor? Then it came to me. What is more valuable than anything you can buy? Rob would get my time, meaning I would show up for a visit and use my immense fortune to make myself available to him when he has the time.

Now we get into some tricky situations because I have a lot of relatives and I’m sure that I would do something for each of them. But I would undoubtedly leave one of them out of this fantasy and then have to tap dance so I will leave this portion of the flight of fancy to rest. And get onto the more fun part that took even more time to come up with.

You see, there would be this party. But it’s not like Oprah where she gets everything donated. I’ll be forking out every penny.

And if you are saying “you can’t buy real friends,” then I must agree with you. That’s why only my pre-rich-as-a-bastard friends would be invited.

A few hundred of my favorite people in this world would get an offer they couldn’t refuse. A chauffeur would show up to their door and present each guest with a golden invitation to the time of their lives.

Remember, I got billions.

Each woman would be escorted to a dress store and fitted for a spectacular dinner gown. Each man would be taken to a tailor where he would be measured for two suits and a tuxedo.

On the prescribed day, a limousine would drive up and take each person to the airport and be flown to California, with instructions to bring nothing but that day’s worth of clothes and NO personal items other than for the plane ride. All would be in first class.

A chauffeured limousine would await each arrival and take them to the ship where they would be personally escorted to their room that had a golden placard etched with their name on their door.

Opening the door, there would be a heartstopping array of gifts scattered across the room.

On each king-size bed would be the smart-foam stuff that you sink into with matching pillows. On top would be hand-made quilts with each person’s name on it for those much-needed naps.

On top of the bed would be a brand new, state of the art laptop with satellite internet connectivity and loaded to the hilt with software for each person. Each computer would have a categorized selection of 10,000 MP3 music files pre-loaded with an option to email me for any other genre desired. I-Pods with Bose sound-canceling headphones, a Blackberry, and satellite cell phone with eternal unlimited minutes (and my home number in the phonebook as well as all other cell phones on board). A high-end digital camera, a satellite radio system, a hand-held digital video camera, and a large plasma television hooked up to a TiVo would adorn each room, but only for the duration of the trip because they round out the electronic gift package to be taken home.

Plus a full selection of the top 100 hardback books as rated by yours truly. (If you don’t want them, donate them to a school library).

All toiletries, lotions, towels, and personal grooming items are top of the line and complimentary.

The closet would have a full wardrobe of casual, semi-formal, formal, and swimwear (all fitted to the person from measurements taken as described above), and a collection of Patagonia, Nike, and Under Armor sportswear. The drawers are full of socks, under-garments. Shoes for every occasion. If there was anything missing or not to the guests’ desires, they could be exchanged in the ship’s stores.

There would also be silk robes in the closet and Brookstone slippers with the space-age foam that molds to your foot.

Each lady would also be able to pick out any 2 purses she desires and the men get a leather billfold (sorry guys, what are ya gonna do? I can’t exactly get strippers or anything like that…….. talk to me later…).

On the table would be fresh-cut flowers (replaced every day) in a crystal vase, etched with the name of the occupants that, along with everything else, they would be able to keep. His and her matching Rolexes and Nike sport watches, a bottle of champagne with two crystal glasses (etched with name, of course) filled to the brim. But be careful, there is a diamond at the bottom of each glass.

A Tilley Hat for each person (because I like them) and $500 sunglasses.

Because jewelry is such a personal item, each lady would be escorted to a onboard shop and instructed to pick out 4 sets of earrings, a tennis bracelet, a ring, and a two necklaces. And there would not be anything in the cases that dipped below $1000.

The actual trip would be a 2 week cruise down the coast and stopping in various Mexican destinations. There would be 24 hour massages available (and even from licensed masseuses!) along with a full spa treatment any time of day. Manicures, pedicures, facials, body scrubs (or whatever they do in those places. Just understand the full treatment is available 24 hours). High-end, make-over specialists including hair stylists (trim, cut, color, frost, whatever…) for each woman (and man if they are so inclined). Also available would be a cosmetic dentist to provide professional capping.

Other 24 hour amenities: hot Krispy Kreme donuts by the cubic butt-ton and a fully stocked Godfather’s Pizza and Taco Bell selection. Sodas, beer, wine, bottled water, milk, fruit juices, teas (hot and iced, sweetened and unsweetened), malts, shakes, coffee, lattes, (all coffee-like derivatives), All flavors of Gaterade, Fruitopia, juice boxes, many fully stocked bars, Mad Dog 20/20, Ripple, and of course, Pepto Bismal.

There would be activities scheduled every day and when in port, I would set it up with the local merchants that all bills of sale would be sent to me. Free souvenirs, food, and drink. I would make sure that the very best equipment and supervision was available for scuba, snorkeling, para-sailing, water-skiing, surfing, airplane tours, helicopter tours, or safari tours. I would pay double the going rate to ensure quality and top-notch treatment.

Along with all the fun, I would ensure the safety of my guests by employing a full time security detail inconspicuously watching over all the guests.

For entertainment, I would contact Sarah McLachlan’s people and make an offer. When they refused, I would double it until they accepted. She would be the main attraction but I would still try to get Seal, Dido, Hootie and the Blowfish, and Enya. I would try for Alanis Morissette but she would think such expression of wealth would be disgusting and start lecturing us so maybe not.

R. Lee Ermey would be invited along with Jerry Seinfeld, Will Ferrell, Easy Reader (Morgan Freeman), Milton from Office Space (as long as he agreed not to put strychnine in the guacamole), Tom Hanks and the other Bosom Buddy, Brendan Gleeson (Hamish from Braveheart), Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid from Harry Potter), Data, Picard, and 7 Of 9 from Star Trek, the guy from Napoleon Dynamite, Jimmy Fallon, the guy who does the voice for Spongebob Squarepants and the guy who does Patrick Starr, Mike Myers (sorry, Mike but you have to dress up like Fat Bastard at least one night), The Rock, Jon Stewart, James Earl Jones (Darth Vader!!!), the entire cast from The Electric Company, any surviving cast members from the original Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, Lance Armstrong (but only if he brings Sheryl Crow), OddTodd, Robert Guillaume (Rafiki from The Lion King), any of the original voices from Bugs Bunny cartoons (I know, but Mel Blanc’s son does ‘em now) and the Flintstones or Superfriends cartoons, the cast of Scrubs, any cast member (past or present) from Saturday Night Live, Dave Chappelle, the guy who plays Stewart from Mad TV, Mo Collins, aw hell, the whole Mad TV cast, David Spade, the Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley cast (but especially Squiggy), all living Medal of Honor recipients, the Army guy who popped Suddam Hussein in the temple with a rifle butt when he spit on him, General Norman Schwarzkopf, any living Commandant of the Marine Corps, Mr. Maxwell (my high school algebra teacher), and finally, Neal Armstrong.

(Oh, and anyone who comments on this blog entry.)

Buster would also have run of the ship. If you had a problem with this, don't come. He'd also double as the drug-sniffing security dog so don't even try it. I'll provide alcohol and cuban cigars but don't abuse this or you'll miss out on some of the fun.

The formal gowns and tuxedos would be used for one night during a formal gathering. Each table would be adorned with silk cloth and silk napkins, embroidered with the guest’s name. Each setting of china, silver, and crystal would also be engraved on every item. The dinner would be Italian. An orchestra would provide the music, bagpipes after the toasts and speeches, but at the end of the night, it would turn to salsa for the dancing.

A pack of professional photographers would roam the ship snapping pictures of the trip and copies would be made for any guest. A single photograph of their choosing would be framed to a size as large as they would allow.

After the vacation, each guest would be treated in the same care as what brought them their until they reach their house. And if you are wondering how they would get all that stuff back, a black Expedition would drive up the next day filled with their loot. The driver would unload all of the goods and as he left, another car would drive up. He would turn around, bow with smile, and toss the Expedition keys before jumping in the other car and driving off.

Free Advice for Today:
“Measure people by the size of their hearts, not the size of their bank accounts."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003

Quote of the Day:

“Never kick a fresh turd on a hot day.”

- Harry S. Truman

Monday, March 14, 2005

From Mighty Mentor To Mental Midget

Today I talked to my mentor, Shane Maxey. I want to say that he’s one of my closest friends but the fact that I haven’t called him since prior to November (I tried on the Marine Corps Birthday but to no avail) kind of takes me out of the running of best friend.

But here is the update with interesting factoids sprinkled in. Shane was the Sergeant who took my Corporal butt to the first Gulf War and got me home. Since then, he’s been like one of those great uncles (I hesitate on the “father” label because he’s not old enough and he’d remove one of my important limbs if I indicated otherwise) and we’ve kept in touch (sorta). Not like “chick” keeping in touch which means every freakin’ day but more like “dude” keeping in touch (every few months or so).

The last I heard, his son was joining the National Guard and then it was right to Iraq. I had to talk Shane down from rejoining (he spent 20+ years as a Marine and then Army dog) to take care of his son over there. The situation was more poignant because when we were in the Gulf War, all Kris could do was cry over the phone when Shane was able to call. Little boys grow up to be big boys and it looked like the little crying boy was now going over to fight part two of the Gulf War.

Since then, I guess Kris didn’t join after all and is working in a supply shop on the base. So much for the drama.

Lindsey, his daughter, got married in May and while none of you know her, you may be able to identify with my freaking out because they were little snot-nosed kids when we knew each other in Yuma. Shane and Michelle used to make them wear matching shirts with the word “Moan” on one of them and “Groan” on the other.

Shane was going to school to get a communications degree but had to take a break and get a job on the base because a military retirement check just don’t answer the mail forever. Michelle is studying to be a physician's assistant and when she starts the dough rake, Shane will finish up his degree.

The thing about Shane is that he has to make sure everything is equal. He figures he messes up at least half the house so he helps clean it every weekend. For years, Michelle stayed home and kept the house together and now he feels that when she goes back to work, it’s his turn.

What makes this all the more strange is if you knew Shane, you would never in a million years guess that he housed these kind of traits. Why? OK, take Major Dad, Gunnery Sergeant Hartman from Full Metal Jacket, Clint Eastwood, a billy goat, both Grumpy Old Men, throw in a baker’s dozen of rabid Drill Instructors, a dash of the Hulk in full mode, some boric acid, mix it all together and you get Shane. But inside, pure gold.

The other thing that happened worth noting is that I had two meetings in the afternoon and in both meetings, I was absolutely floored while getting a peek at the machinery of the Marine Corps. Fighting? We can do that. Winning? Yep, every time. Bureaucracy? Did I mention we were good fighters?

In the first meeting, I learned that there is a computer process that we use that is so old that no one actually knows the code. They use the compiled program to perform certain admin transactions but everyone that ever knew how the program was made is gone and there is no record of the original code. So it does its thing and works but if it broke, it would be broke for good because no one has the code to fix it. <shudder>. But we are fixing it by making a different program before it comes to that. <whew!!>

Other quick hits:

- My random function on my MP3 player is about as random as (what’s the most non-random thing you can think of? I couldn’t come up with anything witty so if you have something, insert it here and then laugh your ass off and consider me the most humorous person you ever met. Thanks.). I keep hearing the same songs and they are at the beginning of the list so although I have 255 songs, I’ll have to go 16 hours before I get to hear the later ones. Kind of defeats the purpose, don’t you think?

- I caught myself saying something incredibly stupid to Sir Phil as we parted ways from the train. He rides his bike to and fro the train these days and when he headed off toward the bike rack, I offer up a weak-ass “Be safe!

OK, like that’s really necessary. Was he NOT going to be safe if I forgot to remind him? “Oh, yeah, that’s right. Good thing you told me. I was about to stick this helmet up my ass, drop 7 hits of acid, and do a handlebar-handstand all the way home.”

Realizing I just said something really dumb, I quickly amended my statemtn without thinking.

“Don’t go and kill yourself!”

Would you shut up, you freakin’ jackass?! Like that helps!!!!

I opened my mouth one more time to try to save some semblance of intelligence and luckily caught myself before I spoke. For my last comment, made again without thinking and under the misguided belief that I could salvage my social intelligence rating, was “Don’t go and get hit by a car or anything.”

Good grief. I've hit critical dumbass.

Free Advice for Today:
“Treat yourself to a massage on your birthday."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003

Quote of the Day:

"I'm Hub McCann. I've fought in two World Wars and countless smaller ones on three continents. I led thousands of men into battle with everything from horses and swords to artillery and tanks. I've seen the headwaters of the Nile, and tribes of natives no white man had ever seen before. I've won and lost a dozen fortunes, killed many men and loved only one woman with a passion a flea like you could never begin to understand! That's who I am. Now, go home, boy!"

- Robert Duvall as 'Hub McCann' in Secondhand Lions

Sunday, March 13, 2005

A Taxing Time

I am not a financial guru. In fact, I’m borderline retarded when it comes to finances.

But in my defense, it’s because I don’t have to be. Carrie takes care of the finances so I don’t have to worry about it. She could ruin me financially, you say? Well, I think that after 18 years, she would have sunk this ship by now if she wanted to. There’s a roof over my head, clothes on my back, food in the kitchen, and a computer hooked up with high-speed internet in the den. The kids don’t look like their suffering and the dog is, well, he isn’t a good metric because he can lick his own ass and there ends his happiness needs.

I have money for a haircut each week and there hasn't been a marathon or race I've had to miss for financial reasons, whether that be entry or the gear it takes. I got a family and despite my rantings, am happy and rich where it counts.

When we were young, there was no money to keep track of and then as we got more, it was better for her to do the finances since I could be deployed at the drop of a hat (OK, it took 4 days from phone call to kiss goodbye at the beginning of Gulf War I but let’s not split hairs). With me being away, it was financial business as usual on the home front.

Then over the years, it just kind of stayed like that and since I get ten kinds of stressed out when I try to do silly things like budget or financial planning, I leave that the one person in the house that has more patience than, say, a hypothetical cantankerous old putz who shall remain anonymous. Namely, Buster paws out the financial road.

OK, Carrie does it but that would be a riot. We’d have milk bones and rawhide up to our asses.

The one area I do poke my snout in on is the taxes. Because everyone knows how much joy can pour forth during tax season.

Don’t get me wrong; I know more about 14th Century Russian ballet dancers than I do about the tax code so don’t think I’m some kind of Jimmy Neutron when it comes to the IRS and their rules and forms labyrinth. It’s just that I seem to have been strapped with this duty every year and along with a couple of beers and some soothing music, I have over the years kept it down to minimal cussing and yelling at Carrie, the scapegoat for my tax preparation stress.

For the last couple of years, I have combined my most favorite technology (‘puter) and my least favorite annual duty (Easter Egg Hunt). Just kidding, the taxes. And the only reason I agreed to the whole tax software thing was because I thought that if I stuck with the same program, I wouldn’t have to fill out as much crap in subsequent years because it would fill in the crap for me. (They should really put that on the box, in those exact words).

This year was the first time I was able to test that theory and because I am Jason Donald Grose, son of Loyal Fran Grose, Jr., brother of Christopher Darren Grose, it totally hosed me. For some reason, it didn’t want to read my file from last year and all of the “autoconnect to financial files via the internet” promises came up empty.

Oh well, so I have to start over. At least I can type it and have it do some of the work for me.

Like I’ve proven over and over on the blog, I am one of those rare breeds of idiots. You’ve heard it asked “What kind of idiot are you?” Well, let me answer you with a hearty “scapula.”

Then I realize that makes no sense…

Where was I? Oh yeah… I really thought that it would be easier. I really did. And I’m really challenged at the 1040EZ level and as I get older and start getting more shit, the forms start getting harder. And the questions start to make me dizzy.

Capital funds? Um, is the right answer “C”?

Child credit? I get credit for these heathens?

Standard deduction? Is that like breast reduction? If so, no thanks.

Did I donate to charity. YOU BET!!! IN STAGGERING AMOUNTS NOW THAT YOU ARE ASKING. (..oh, anything over $500 and I got to fill out more forms? Then, um, yeah, how coincidental. That’s EXACTLY how much I donated. On the nose. What are the odds?)

But this year does mark a milestone. One of the benefits of getting through the approximately 65 trillion questions of the software is that it runs both scenarios of standard deduction and itemized deduction. Then it tells you which one you will get more money back from. (OK, I know, it’s my money that I’m getting back so technically it’s not “getting money back” but as long as we are talking technically, yes, I am getting money back. Just because it’s my own is of little consequence. See, I told you I was a financial assbag.)

At the end, I’m getting back this huge bag of money. I’m afraid to go back and see if things went awry because I might get less but it worries me because this is like twice as much as we’ve ever got back before. But then, I had my house for the whole year so I guess that’s what put me over the edge.

And when the auditors come calling, I’ll just lead them over to my den.

“Mr. Grose, do you realize that you claimed your dog as a dependent?”
“He depends on me, doesn’t he?”
“And um, how do you justify this ‘technology expense’?”
“Ask my wife, sitting here at this computer is very taxing.”
“Uh-huh. And you want us to believe you donated a chest of gold doubloons to the Make-A-Wish Foundation?”
“You’re telling me they didn’t get it? I gave that homeless guy an extra fifty to get it there safely!”
“Finally, Sir, how did you reconcile the capital gains reduction deficit with your under-funded offshore shelter in light of the Murphy-Salinger account bill passed just this year?”

At this point, I just point him to the computer.

“Dunno. I got two words for you, Sport: Turbo and Tax.”

So what am I going to do with this big old wad of money? Party in Vegas? New Borg-like wearable computer? Krispy Kremes till I puke glazed blood?

No, you see, you assume that since I have no interest in my financial situation, I am financially irresponsible. The truth is quite the opposite. I am pretty Draconian with tax returns. Carrie had to do a lot of talking last year to get new furniture but this year, the amount we are getting back is exactly half of what we owe the credit card company. So the way I see it, it’s not my money and as painful it is to give a small fortune to a credit card company, cutting my debt in half means cutting my interest payments each month by half (I’m not a complete financial dunce!).

So that’s the plan. Slam the wad down on the electronic desk of Visa. Maybe I can break even before I go to jail for tax evasion and anyway, like I need another reason to stray towards Krispy Kremes.

Free Advice for Today:
“When a woman is in the hospital, give her a soft, stuffed animal instead of flowers."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003

Quote of the Day:

"It's lonely at the top, but you eat better."

- Unknown

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Gentleman, Start Your Engine

Today I spent a lot of time in front of the computer.

Before you roll your eyes asking “What’s new?” or accuse me of surfing porn, let me explain. I actually had a good reason. (not for surfing porn; try to stay with me. Ignore the shiny objects for a moment, for the love of God.)

I figured out my family travel schedule for the year which includes my marathon schedule. Is it a danger flag that just organizing it made me tired?

I’ll show you what I got so if you want to rob my house, these would be the times to do it:

Mark’s retirement (Lejeune): A friend of mine is retiring and I’m taking the family. We were best friends with his family when we were young enlisted types. Now he’s a First Sergeant and I’m a Captain. And these facts would definitely put a shimmer in a lot of people’s reality who knew us back then.

Wild Wild West (Las Vegas and Lone Pine California): flying across the country to drive 5 hours to run a trail marathon and then reversing the stupidity. Yup, dumb AND expensive.

Sarah McLachlan Concert (Norfolk VA): To soothe my soul and boost my estrogen levels.

God's Country Marathon (Pennsylvania): Driving 7 hours to the middle of Nowhere, PA so I can run their marathon. First time for this one so I don’t know what to expect.

Presidential Classroom volunteer for a week (Wash D. C.): Second year for this. Will attempt a repeat of the “No Capital Murder” record I have 1 year running.

July 4th trip to Gann house (Georgia): Would you miss an annual trip to your favorite Aunt and Uncle’s mansion? Family fun, swimming in the sun, Coronas till I’m done, here we come.

Seattle Trip: Back to the womb.

Seafair Marathon (Seattle, WA): … and while I’m there, I will be running the 1st annual Seafair Marathon. First time I’ve run at “home.”

Gann Getaway Fishing trip (Wyoming): Annual “all guy” fishing trip I finally got invited to. Taking Alex with me for this “coming of age” tradition. (No, there are no prostitutes involved.)

4H Camp (Virginia): Just Carrie and Stephanie. I will be in Wyoming. Buster will be the lone family member to keep up the house. Somehow, I doubt if the vacuuming gets done.

Southern trip (Lejeune, Parris Island, Georgia): Want to go see Top Garcia (one of my Drill Instructors), our friends the Seymons, The Rose Garden DI, and our friends the Garzas. This trip is on the bubble considering all the other trips.

MCM Half Marathon (Quantico, VA): It slows down in September with only this going on. Only 13 1/2 miles. (Statements like that sometimes make me stop and wonder how my life got to the point that 13.5 miles of running could possibly contain the word “only” in front of it.)

San Antonio trip: To see Tuffy and maybe R. Lee Ermey.

Marine Corps Marathon (Wash D.C.): Right on the heels of the San Antonio trip. 30th anniversary of this race.

JFK 50 mile Ultra (Maryland): may God have mercy on my soul.

So what else did I do today? Well, I registered for both the Seafair Marathon and the God’s Country Marathon. I also got my hotel reservations for the God’s Country trip. I paid extra for the king size bed ($63 per night) because I figure anything I can do to distract my body from the fact that I will be crushing it will lower the odds that I will experience Crampfest 2005 on the way home. I also have to believe the $4 per night more will be worth the extra bed acreage, especially AFTER the marathon.

I also called the race organizer of the Umstead 100 and got my name on the email list. I plan on doing this race next year (April 2006) and was initially confused because the race was sold out. Then I remembered that

1. I’m an idiot
2. It was sold out for 2005 and…
3. I was planning on the 2006 race and finally…
4. I was still an idiot

So I called the race director, talked to him, and then he asked me to send him an email so he could put me on the email notification list. Of course, I just couldn't send him a little note; I had to create a book. Here is what I sent:

Mr. Norwood,

I enjoyed our phone call and appreciate the time you took to answer my questions.

Please allow me to quickly explain my intensions.

I have 18 years in the Marine Corps and got into distance running in 2000. Since then, I've run 5 trail marathons, 4 street marathons, and 2 50-milers. I don't do them fast but I get to the finish line <grin>.

My 2005 schedule looks like this:

Wild Wild West 5/7/2005 Lone Pine Trail Marathon
God's Country 6/4/2005 PA Marathon
Seafair Marathon 7/10/2005 Seattle Marathon
MC Half Marathon 9/23/2005 Quantico Half
MCM 10/30/2005 Wash. DC Marathon
JFK 50 11/19/2005 MD Ultra

So you see, I should have my 50 mile qualifier done with the JFK. The two other 50 milers were in 2002 and 2003 so they are a bit old. But I'm confident I will have the training and the race experience to tackle the Umstead. (Maybe "tackle" is a tad optimistic so I'll go with "I'll be able to cross both start and finishing lines without requiring heroic medical aid.)

As I mentioned, all of this is part of a 5 year plan for the Badwater in 2009 and I've heard that the Umstead is the race to do for the leap up to the 100 mile range. I don't want to miss the 2006 race so please let me know as soon as the registration becomes available.

I run a webpage and part of it logs my race experiences. It will be able to show you the dates and times of my races as well as my stories about them. Please feel free to ask anything you'd like.

The address is: http://www.grose.us/marathon/index.html

I look forward to hearing from you.

Jason D. Grose

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

If You Steal My Sunshine

As though this blog entry was not long enough, I also must explain, for those of you who are wondering, why this sudden change in running plans. Well, it’s simple. I had planned on doing some triathlon training and going all over the country to run. But then I discovered I really don’t want to do the biking nor the swimming so the triathlon thing seems like a less than wise choice. And with all the other traveling I’ll be doing, the extra trips to race in places I have to fly to, well, it was just not sensible. And I know this because my wife told me so it must be true.

“You are running almost a race per month and you want to lecture us on sensible?”

You know, I don’t have to take that. You aren’t the boss of me!!! That's my wife's job!

When I cut out the tri-training, that left a big gap in the summer. And since there are no marathons around here in the summer (something about the extreme heat), I had to cast my net farther. My family wanted me to come to Seattle this year so I put the two problems together and came out with the Seafair Marathon solution which gives me a July race and puts me in Seattle for a summer vacation.

You can see the whole plane at http://www.grose.us/marathon/races9.xls.

Oh, and since I signed up for the JFK 50 miler (to negate the need to travel to Montana in the summer to do a 50), I had to bag the idea of running the Richmond Marathon because the time conflicted with JFK. This put me back on track for the Marine Corps Marathon which I was going to skip because of the extreme ass pain of getting to the start and getting home afterwards. So it looks like I’ll be part of the 30th Anniversary Marine Corps Marathon which will be packed since they opened up registration to all-comers. No more lottery which will avoid situations like this for me.

So, that’s it. A day dedicated to trip and marathon planning. Whew, good thing the hard part is done, right?

Free Advice for Today:
“Remember that when your mom says, "You'll regret it," you probably will."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003

Quote of the Day:

"It is impossible for an optimist to be pleasantly surprised."

- Unknown

Friday, March 11, 2005

Email Bufoonery

People are stupid. Let me qualify that; dishonest people are stupid.

There are so many things wrong with an email I received recently that I don’t know where to begin. Like most other people, I get the same Zimbabwe Financial Minister email that claims to have millions of dollars hidden away in a secret bank account and needs my help to get it out of the country and if I provide my financial information, I can ciphon off a few million for myself.

(BTW, if that really happens, don't expect many blog entries too often as I will be rolling naked in money. Maybe I'll even do it in the privacy of my own bedroom. Then again, maybe not.)

I get quite a few of these moronic scam attempts and the premise is so old that it’s almost humorous to read about the different variations of these stupid offers. (I say that but I have no doubt that out of the millions this goes to, there are a few imbeciles even dumber than the perpetrators who actually fall for it.)

But this latest one so bad on so many levels that I had to take valuable blog real estate to ridicule it here for you. I’m leaving in the spelling, syntax, capitalization, and formatting mistakes just to show the severe depth of butt-tardery this email convey.

Ready folks? It ain’t pretty…


From: sgt james michael

my private emails is{ privacy@jamesmail.us }

hey there this is sgt james michael, I am a soldier and photo journalist , serving in the military .I am with the 248th Engineer corp. in the National Guard.

I am writing this message from ar-ramadi in Iraq.

we hit Iraq last may 2003 and have moved around a few times building up f.o.b.'s around the western side of the country as well as missions into Bagdad.With attackes by insurgents everyday and car bombs,We managed to move funds belonging to Saddam Hussien's family.

The total amount is US$25 Million dollars in cash, mostly 100 dollar bills. We want to move this money out of iraqi. no strings attached, just help us recieve it, Iraq is a warzone although partially ended. We plan on using diplomatic courier to ship the money out in one large silver box, using diplomatic immunity.

If you are interested I will send you the full details, When you receive this letter,kindly send me an e-mail signifying your interest including your most confidential telephone/fax numbers for quick response also your contact details.

please send all emails to my private mail box

my private emails is{ privacy@jamesmail.us }


Sgt.james michael.

I’m wondering if I should even attempt to explain the idiocy of this. I mean, the scam is stale enough but now some ignorant assbag is using the Iraqi war situation as a stepping stone to scam people. Granted STUPID people who may deserve having their life savings stolen, but nevertheless, people. It’s like which moron do you want to win?

I just can’t stand it. Here it goes. Why does he call himself “Mr.” when he goes right in to identify himself as a Sergeant. And what’s up with all the errors? I mean granted, it’s obviously done by some douchbag who doesn’t know English as his first language but if you are going to go through the trouble of actually going through with this ridiculous rouse, is it that hard to have someone with a shadow of a clue proofread your shit? This waste of DNA is gambling on some serious jailtime and this is the best he could come up with? Really, if you’re gonna be a bear, be a freakin’ grizzly bear, you jackass.

Free Advice for Today:
“Each year, take a first-day-of-school photograph of your children."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003

Quote of the Day:

"If the shoe fits, get another one just like it."

- Unknown

Thursday, March 10, 2005

MVP: Must View Promptly

My wife thought it was a good idea to sign up for this MVP program that Hollywood Video offers. Like Netflix, you pay a flat rate every month and you get to keep 3 movies at a time. The only difference is you are still bound by the 5 day timeframe. Bastards! But I sorta understand; without a backstop they would be my newest dust collector.

But h ere is why this is dangerous. If the movie is there, I feel an obligation to actually watch it and not much can be worse than having to return a movie you paid for but didn’t watch. The stress leading up to "return day" is palpable and ugly. I start slapping dogs.

I found myself in the video store the other day for the first time under this program. I had the kids with me and told them they could get a movie but my son didn’t want anything and my daughter snagged the Mulan II she had been waiting for.

I don’t often rent movies so most of everything was a “New Release” for me which is good because they don’t put the movies on the MVP list until they have been a new release for a couple of weeks. Kind of a “semi-new release” status, I guess.

I had two to choose so I went with The Manchurian Candidate and Open Water. More about those in a minute.

My daughter had been waiting for Mulan II for weeks and I was surprised it was on the MVP list but sure enough, one copy had an MVP sticker on it. Score.

When I got up to the counter, I was informed that the box was mislabeled and it wouldn’t be on the MVP list for another week. Looking over at my daughter, I saw the same bowling ball eyes that I had when I was a kid so what was I supposed to do?

Yeah, I decided to shell out the 4 clams.

This gave me the opportunity to get another MVP so I went back and picked out Monster.

Over this last week, I’ve had The Movie Stress to get these things watched before the Friday deadline expires. The first night was easy: Manchurian Candidate.

OK movie but nothing to write pages of blog over.

Last night, I watched Monster. Where do I start with this? Obviously with the transformation of Charlize Theron. Good God, she was hideous in this. I knew she was a beautiful actress but didn’t remember exactly what she looked like so all I had to go on was this movie and I knew it was a far distance from her real looks.

But it wasn’t only her looks, which were downright abominable, but also her speech, mannerisms, and overall skanky personality. I was utterly disgusted.

At the end of the movie, I watched the extras and it had an interview with her. I almost fell off the couch. She was gorgeous. I mean cartoon-character-eyes-popping-out-of-head gorgeous. No wonder she got the Oscar. Never in my life have I ever seen such a gulf between believable ugliness and downright beauty.

I needed a Lysol bath after the movie, though. Not exactly the feel-good movie of the year. It was, in a word, disgusting.

Today, I succeeded in completing the trio of movies by watching Open Water.

What the hell is it with me? How did I manage to pick the most depressing movies ever made? Not the storybook ending you’d hope for and if you have plans to EVER go scuba diving, you might want to skip this one. I won’t even take a bath now.

So I did it, I got the movies watched with a day to spare. Now I can go back and get three more. Like I need this kind of stress in my life. Guh!

Free Advice for Today:
“Offer to leave the tip when someone invites you out to eat."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003

Quote of the Day:

"Always take time to stop and smell the roses... and sooner or later,
you'll inhale a bee.

- Unknown

Wednesday, March 9, 2005

"MuVo"er Lyra, There's A New Player In Town

Yesterday I explained how I came across my new MP3 player.

And what evolution involving me and electronic devices would be complete without a rousing game of testicles-in-the-blender?

I tend to go slow with these things. Real slow as to not miss a step. So I did what it said: loaded the drivers, hooked it to a USB court, sacrificed one of my children. You know, the usual stuff.

First off, this thing is amazing. It’s smaller than a pack of gum. And I’m not talking the big oversized packs, I’m talking the little 5 stick packs that end up having a curve to them after living in your back pocket for a week.

It takes one AAA battery (supposedly lasting 16 hours but says it varies depending on “use”, by which I can only surmise that if you don’t USE it, the battery should be good for 16 hours) and when I put the battery in one had and the player in the other, the player was lighter!!!!! It also has a microphone (which I will never use. I know, never say never but…. I will NEVER use this feature), FM tuner, and a bunch of other stuff that I will not use. EVER! (just because you’re not supposed to say it)

It took a couple of nights to get my list together which actually gets pretty tedious when you have to come up with 250. I mean, it gets tough to tell if I want to hear Prince at mile 15 singing about Pop Life or if that would send me over the edge at some point where I’ll be squinting through crosshairs.

The filtering process was pretty willy nilly for this and I was just slamming copies of songs in a temp folder. I would eventually have to convert these copies to 64 kbs so they can all fit which is why I had to make a copy and put them in their own folder.

After I was done picking the songs, it took a couple of hours to convert them so I excused myself from the computer and let it go about its business. That’ll probably be the same logic I use when it becomes sentient and attacks me in my sleep. (Damn I, Robot flick!)

After it was done, I discovered yet another problem. I had too many songs which is even worse than not having enough because now I had to choose which ones I would ax.

OK, maybe Debbie Gibson’s Foolish Beat was a bad idea. Good Lord, how did that even make ANY cut? Let’s see, I think that anything by the Human League can go. Same same for Culture Club. Criminy, did I have a spontaneous gaysplosion or something? Let’s hope THAT was an aberrant event or maybe I was channeling Liberace or something.

So now I have to go through this process until I weed out a couple of dozen songs. Finally I get it down to 510 MB and am ready to roll but I remembered that the advertised space is always more than you actually get so I rechecked and sure enough, I had to get it down to about 490.

Ok, Corey Hart’s Sunglasses At Night is out. See ya Beastie Boys. A few more get cut and I’m ready to load. Here was the final list:

1. Alanis Morissette - Ironic (3:49)
2. Sarah McLachlan - Fear (3:59)
3. Sarah McLachlan - Possession (4:39)
4. Alanis Morissette - You Oughta Know (4:09)
5. Matchbox Twenty - 3 AM (3:45)
6. KLF - 3 AM Eternal (3:35)
7. Alanis Morissette - Hand In My Pocket (3:41)
8. Sarah McLachlan - Ice (3:54)
9. Sarah McLachlan - Fear (MB) (5:02)
10. Nena - 99 Red Balloons (3:52)
11. Sarah McLachlan - Adia (4:04)
12. Lenny Kravitz - American Woman (4:20)
13. Sarah McLachlan - Angel (4:30)
14. Sarah McLachlan - Answer (3:57)
15. Aaliyah - Are You That Somebody? (4:28)
16. Sophie B. Hawkins - As I Lay Me Down (4:08)
17. Sir Mix-A-Lot - Baby Got Back (4:23)
18. Matchbox Twenty - Back To Good (5:40)
19. Soul II Soul - Back To Life (3:50)
20. U2 - Beautiful Day (4:05)
21. Madonna - Beautiful Stranger (4:22)
22. Meredith Brooks - Bitch (4:12)
23. Goo Goo Dolls - Black Balloon (4:09)
24. Soundgarden - Black Hole Sun (5:18)
25. Beastie Boys - Brass Monkey (2:37)
26. Seether - Broken feat Amy Lee (2:41)
27. Mister Mister - Broken Wings (5:37)
28. Sarah McLachlan - Building a Mystery (4:07)
29. Young MC - Bust A Move (4:26)
30. Red Hot Chili Peppers - Californication (5:21)
31. Seal - Crazy (5:57)
32. Beyonce Knowles - Crazy in Love Feat Jay-Z (4:08)
33. Radiohead - Creep (acoustic) (4:15)
34. Fiona Apple - Criminal (5:43)
35. John Couger Mellencamp - Crumblin' Down (3:35)
36. Crush - Jennifer Paige.mp3
37. Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover - Sophie B. Hawkins.mp3
38. Days Go By - Dirty Vegas.mp3
39. December - Collective Soul.mp3
40. Desert Rose - Sting.mp3
41. Do What You Have To Do - Sarah McLachlan.mp3
42. Don't Speak - No Doubt.mp3
43. Don't Stand So Close To Me - The Police.mp3
44. Drops of Jupitar - Train.mp3
45. Dumb Girl - Run DMC.mp3
46. Eight Easy Steps - Alanis Morissette.mp3
47. Epic - Faith No More.mp3
48. Every Breath You Take - The Police.mp3
49. Every Morning - Sugar Ray.mp3
50. Everything - Alanis Morissette.mp3
51. Eye of the Tiger - Survivor.mp3
52. Fallen - Sarah McLachlan.mp3
53. Fast Car - Tracy Chapman.mp3
54. Feels Good - Tony Toni Tone.mp3
55. Flood - Jars of Clay.mp3
56. Fly - Sugar Ray.mp3
57. Follow Me - Uncle Kracker.mp3
58. Free Fallin' - Tom Petty.mp3
59. Gangster's Paradise - Coolio.mp3
60. Get The Party Started - Pink.mp3
61. LL Cool J - Going Back To Cali (4:12)
62. Gonna Fly Now (Theme from Rocky) - Maynard Ferguson.mp3
63. Good Riddance (acoustic) - Green Day.mp3
64. Good Vibrations - Marky Mark.mp3
65. Harder To Breathe - Maroon 5.mp3
66. Headstrong - Trapt.mp3
67. Heart And Soul - T'pau.mp3
68. Hella Good - No Doubt.mp3
69. Eurythmics - Here Comes the Rain Again (5:06)
70. Here Without You - Three Doors Down.mp3
71. Hey Baby - No Doubt.mp3
72. Hey Pretty - Poe.mp3
73. Hey Ya - Outkast.mp3
74. Home - Bone Thugs and Harmony ft Phil Collins.mp3
75. How Bizarre - OMC.mp3
76. How Its Gonna Be - Third Eye Blind.mp3
77. I Alone - Live.mp3
78. I Cant Wait - Nu Shooz.mp3
79. I Dare You To Move - Switchfoot.mp3
80. I Don't Wanna Be - Gavin DeGraw.mp3
81. I Don't Wanna Wait - Paula Cole.mp3
82. I Like the Way You Move - Outkast.mp3
83. I Love You - Sarah McLachlan.mp3
84. I Love You Always Forever - Donna Lewis.mp3
85. I Need to Know - Marc Anthony.mp3
86. I Ran - Flock of Seagulls.mp3
87. I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For - U2.mp3
88. I Touch Myself - Divinyls.mp3
89. I Walk Alone - Greenday.mp3
90. I Won't Tell No One Your Name - Goo Goo Dolls.mp3
91. I've Been Thinking About You - Londonbeat.mp3
92. I've Got the Power - Snap.mp3
93. Ice Ice Baby - Vanilla Ice.mp3
94. If I Close My Eyes Forever - Ozzie Osbourne & Lita Ford.mp3
95. If You Steal My Sunshine - Len.mp3
96. Insane in the Membrane- Cypress Hill.mp3
97. Iris - Goo Goo Dolls.mp3
98. It's Been Awhile - Staind.mp3
99. It's Tricky - Run DMC.mp3
100. Jack and Diane - John Couger Melloncamp.mp3
101. Joy And Pain - Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock.mp3
102. Jump Around - House Of Pain.mp3
103. Jumper - Third Eye Blind.mp3
104. Just Like a Pill - Pink.mp3
105. Keep Your Hands to Yourself - Georgia Satellites.mp3
106. King of Pain - Alanis Morissette.mp3
107. King of Pain - The Police.mp3
108. King Of Rock - Run DMC.mp3
109. Kiss From a Rose - Seal.mp3
110. Kiss Me - Six Pence None the Richer.mp3
111. Kiss the Rain - Billie Myers.mp3
112. Knowlege Is King - Kool Moe Dee.mp3
113. Kyrie - Mister Mister.mp3
114. La Isla Bonita - Madonna.mp3
115. LA Song Out Of ThisTown - Beth Hart.mp3
116. La Vida Loca - Ricky Martin.mp3
117. Land Down Under - Men At Work.mp3
118. Cranberries - Linger (acoustic) (5:12)
119. Little Miss Can't Be Wrong - Spin Doctors.mp3
120. Live To Tell - Madonna.mp3
121. Long December - Counting Crows.mp3
122. Lose yourself - Eminem.mp3
123. Losing My Religion - REM.mp3
124. Love Fool - Cardigans.mp3
125. Meet Virginia - Train.mp3
126. Missing - Everything But The Girl (Remix).mp3
127. Mouth - Merill Bainbridge.mp3
128. Mr Jones - Counting Crows.mp3
129. Mummers' Dance - Loreena McKennitt.mp3
130. Music - Madonna.mp3
131. My Adidas - Run Dmc.mp3
132. New Sensation - INXS.mp3
133. No Rain - Blind Melon.mp3
134. No Sleep Till Brooklyn.mp3
135. Now That We Found Love - Heavy D.mp3
136. Obsession - Animotion.mp3
137. One Headlight - Wallflowers.mp3
138. One Thing - Finger 11.mp3
139. Only Wanna Be With You - Hootie & the Blowfish.mp3
140. OPP - Naughty By Nature.mp3
141. Ordinary World - Duran Duran.mp3
142. Otherside - Red Hot Chili Peppers.mp3
143. Paul Revere.mp3
144. Peekaboo - Siouxsie and the Banshees.mp3
145. People Are People - Depeche Mode.mp3
146. Perfection - Run DMC.mp3
147. Peter Piper - Run DMC.mp3
148. Pink Houses - John Couger Melloncamp.mp3
149. Plush - Stone Temple Pilots.mp3
150. Posse In Effect.mp3
151. Prayer For the Dying - Seal.mp3
152. Pride - U2.mp3
153. Push - Sarah McLachlan.mp3
154. Push It - Salt-N-Pepa.mp3
155. Puttin on the Ritz - Taco.mp3
156. Raising Hell - Run DMC.mp3
157. Rasberry Beret - Prince.mp3
158. Ray of Light - Madonna.mp3
159. Rebel Yell - Billy Idol.mp3
160. Relax - Frankie Goes to Hollywood .mp3
161. Respect - Aretha Franklin.mp3
162. Rhymin & Stealin.mp3
163. Right Here Right Now - Jesus Jones .mp3
164. Rock And Roll Part 2 - Gary Glitter.mp3
165. Rockit - Herbie Hancock.mp3
166. Round And Round - Tevin Campell.mp3
167. Rumpshaker - Wrecks in Effects.mp3
168. Run - Snow Patrol.mp3
169. Sadness - Enigma.mp3
170. Say My Name - Destiny's Child.mp3
171. Red Hot Chili Peppers - Scar Tissue (3:31)
172. Semi Charmed Life - Third Eye Blind.mp3
173. Send Me An Angel (Extended) - Real Life.mp3
174. Sex & Candy - Marcy Playground.mp3
175. She Talks To Angels (Acoustic) - Black Crows.mp3
176. She Will Be Loved - Maroon 5.mp3
177. She's Crafty.mp3
178. Shout - Tears for Fears.mp3
179. Sign O the Times - Prince.mp3
180. Sign Your Name Across My Heart - Terrence Trent D'arby.mp3
181. Sing For The Moment - Eminem.mp3
182. Slam - Onyx.mp3
183. Slow and Low.mp3
184. Small Town - John Couger Melloncamp.mp3
185. Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana.mp3
186. Someday - Sugar Ray.mp3
187. Somewhere Only We Know - Keane.mp3
188. Southern Cross - Crosby Stills Nash Young.mp3
189. Southside - Moby ft. Gwen Stefani.mp3
190. Start the Commotion - The Wiseguys.mp3
191. Stay - Shakespears Sister.mp3
192. Stupid - Sarah McLachlan.mp3
193. Sumpin' New (1,2,3,4) - Coolio.mp3
194. Sunny Came Home - Shawn Colvin.mp3
195. Super Duper Love - Joss Stone.mp3
196. Superman - Five For Fighting.mp3
197. Superman Kryptonite - Three Doors Down.mp3
198. Superstar - Cypress Hill.mp3
199. Surrendering - Alanis Morissette.mp3
200. Sarah McLachlan - Sweet Surrender (4:00)
201. Teenage Dirtbag - Wheatus.mp3
202. The Dance - Garth Brooks.mp3
203. The Dope Song - Marylin Manson.mp3
204. The Freshman - The Verve Pipe.mp3
205. The Path Of Thorns (Terms) - Sarah McLachlan.mp3
206. The Reason - Hoobastank.mp3
207. The River - Garth Brooks.mp3
208. The Sun - Maroon 5.mp3
209. The Way - Fastball.mp3
210. There She Goes - Six Pence None The Richer.mp3
211. There You Go - Pink.mp3
212. This Grudge - Alanis Morissette.mp3
213. This Is Your Life - The Dust Brothers (Featuring Tyler Durden).mp3
214. Thong Song - Sisco.mp3
215. Time - Sarah McLachlan.mp3
216. Time After Time - Cindy Lauper .mp3
217. Time To Get Ill.mp3
218. Too Legit To Quit - MC Hammer.mp3
219. Torn - Natalie Imbruglia.mp3
220. Bonnie Tyler - Total Eclipse of the Heart (6:59)
221. Cathy Dennis - Touch Me (4:09)
222. Martika - Toy Soldiers (4:40)
223. Cindy Lauper - True Colors (3:47)
224. Aaliyah - Try Again (4:44)
225. Chumbawamba - Tubthumping (4:39)
226. MC Hammer - Turn This Mutha Out (4:43)
227. Garth Brooks - Unanswered Prayers (3:25)
228. EMF - Unbelievable (3:28)
229. Under The Bridge - Red Hot Chili Peppers.mp3
230. Underneath Your Clothes - Shakira.mp3
231. Uninvited - Alanis Morissette.mp3
232. Vox - Sarah McLachlan.mp3
233. Waiting For You - Seal.mp3
234. Walking on Sunshine - Katrina and the Waves.mp3
235. What I Am - Edie Brickell.mp3
236. What If God Was One Of Us - Joan Osborne .mp3
237. What It's Like - Everlast.mp3
238. What Would Happen - Merideth Brooks.mp3
239. What's Up - 4 Non Blondes.mp3
240. When Doves Cry - Prince.mp3
241. When Its Over - Sugar Ray.mp3
242. Where Have All The Cowboys Gone - Paula Cole.mp3
243. Why Can't I - Liz Phair.mp3
244. Wicked Game - Chris Issak.mp3
245. Wild Boys - Duran Duran.mp3
246. Wild Thing - Tone Loc.mp3
247. Wishing Well - Terrence Trent Darby.mp3
248. With Or Without You - U2.mp3
249. Work It - Missy Eliott.mp3
250. Wrapped Around Your Finger - The Police.mp3
251. Wrong Impression - Natalie Imbruglia.mp3
252. Yeah - Usher ft. Lil Jon and Ludacris.mp3
253. You Gotta Be - Desree.mp3
254. You Keep Me Hanging On - Kim Wilde.mp3
255. You're Never Gonna Get It - En Vogue.mp3

It was already almost 0100 so I once again set my computer to work and let it finish on its own. I could snag the player in the morning on my way to work.

Uh-huh. Right.

When I came back the next morning, it had stopped halfway through and told me that it could not copy next file. Because I time my morning routine by the second (which I’m historically behind about 600 of them), I had no time to do anything with it. I thought, oh well, I can deal with having 8 hours instead of 16 hours on there for today and I’ll fix it tonight.

When I got home, I couldn’t crack this nut. No matter what I did, I could only gte half the songs on there. Did they accidentally give me the 256 version? It says 512 on the case. Off to the support boards I go.

I can’t find anything remotely close to my problem but I did find a firmware upgrade and some update for the interface software. I install both but it still didn’t help. Looks like I was going to have to return it and accept my existence as cursed by the technology gods.

I was a few hours into this when I threw my last Hail Mary: total reformat. What did I have to lose? (I tend not to ask that because normally, they find something for me to lose and I don’t want to be down to one testicle).

Yes, I lost all the songs that were on there but I had no other choice. The good news is that it succeeded in scraping everything off the drive. And then when I copied all the songs back onto it, it got past the point where it had stopped before.

What? Could this be? Could I be staring at success?

Yes, folks, mark your calendars, it worked. I got all…. Oh…. wait… there was one more glitch. I was one song over the limit and since it didn’t take Sarah McLachlan’s Possession, I was forced to sacrifice one other song. The losing file?

Sorry Jimmy Ray. You may indeed be Jimmy Ray but you’ll be Jimmy Ray somewhere other than my new MuVo.

OK, so that’s the story. After a few hours, I finally got 255 songs on the little player and now I have a running partner that will not repeat himself for 16 hours.

Free Advice for Today:
“Tell family members you love them before they go away for a few days."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003

Quote of the Day:

"People are always available for work in the past tense."

- Unknown

Tuesday, March 8, 2005

Next Chapter In The MP3 Chronicles Of Jason: MuVo

I know what you’re saying. That I need another MP3 player like Kirstie Alley needs another box of Ho Hos. But does that stop either one of us from controlling ourselves?

But really, I was being philanthropic about the whole thing. It was for my long-suffering wife. Here’s the background.

As you know, I started with the RCA Kazoo which held a paltry couple dozen songs. But it was good enough for a couple of years and may it rest in peace.

Next came the Lyra and despite some initial problems, it stepped up and offered almost 100 songs in a tiny package. I was happy with this for awhile.

Then I lost all control and bought a monster. My Rio Karma was beset by tragedy from the get go because of addressing problems and then the unfortunate sticking harddrive stickiness that I felt necessary to solve by smacking the shit out of it. What did I get for my troubles? Let’s start with a broken LCD screen and follow up with random skippages, unwanted song repeat loops, and downright refusals to go on. (Jan 5th, Jan 30)

But the fun didn’t end there. It all started when I tried to run with it (one of the major reasons I got it) and now I was stuck with an iffy performer as just a walkaround and work MP3 player. When I got this 20 gig monster, I graciously bestowed my wife with the Lyra.

I don’t exactly know where the term “Indian Giver” came from but I had to further the concept when I realized I was without music on my runs. The Lyra had to be ungifted which wasn’t too hard since I had not taken the time to put on the 100 songs my wife had painstakingly written out by hand that she wanted on HER player.

So I found myself at Circuit City the other day with the sole intention of buying my lovely wife a surprise gift in the form of an MP3 player.

I came across Creative Labs’ MuVo. It has 512 mb flash memory (no moving parts so you could fall down a mountain with it with no trouble, well, except the who bodily injury and/or death thing. But I’m talking about the music. Don’t be so damn selfish!).

It only cost about $120 and by my calculations, could hold about 250 songs if I sampled them at a tinny 64 kbs.

Then the voices started.

“Hey, who spends more time exercising?”
“Well, I guess that would be me.”
“Yeah, she goes to the gym and don’t you think she would only need, say, about 100 songs?”
“Hey, you’re right.”
“And you DID give her the Lyra..”
“But I took it back…”
“Shut up, you damn idiot, I’m making a point here!”
“Sorry. Go ahead.”
“Well, if you put her songs on the Lyra, you can surprise here and show her the error of your ways; that you shouldn’t have taken it back in the first place.”
“You are right, Crazy Voice In My Head!”
“Now there’s just a matter of your needs.”
“No, that’s OK, I just went before we left.”
“Would you shut your damn mouth, you imbecile!”
“Again, sorry.”
“I meant your musical needs while running.”
“You’re right, I’m still at the back of the bus on that one.”
“Good thing we are at Circuit City, in the MP3 player aisle.”
“Oh, look, a Creative Labs

I think you know how this ends.

When I got home, I loaded up all her songs which was not an easy task since I had to make a folder and put a copy of each of the 100 she picked (searching for every single one), convert the copies to 64 kbs, and then load them up on the Lyra. Even this last step was a pain because it took some funky computer gyrations to get it to work, gyrations I forget how to do every time so have to spend hours each time I attempt in order to relearn what I had already done. For I AM stupid, in case you didn’t realize.

When I was done, I held the little player behind my back and gave my wife a hug which of course raised her suspicions that I had been chatting with Crazy Voice In My Head. With all the pomp and circumstance I could muster, I presented her my gift.

“Yeah, it’s your Lyra. So what.”

OK, so it took a bit of explaining but when I got it across to her that her songs were on it and I was re-gifting (not the Seinfeldre-gifting” but obviously, since I was giving it to her again, it falls within the strict definition of “re-gifting.” Can we move on?)

Then she fell right into my trap. She opened up the doors by saying,

“But what will you use on your runs?”

I think a tear formed in each of my eyes.

“Oh, but I happened to have run across this…” as I pulled out the box containing the MuVo.

Understanding spread across her face. And not the “understanding” as in she empathized with my situation but understanding that she married an idiot.

The look fell somewhere between “of course” and “you bastard son-of-a-bitch shithead jackass.”

But after explaining the circumstances that I explained above, she dropped the “shithead” portion.

Free Advice for Today:
“Welcome the unexpected! Opportunities raely come in neat, predictable packages."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003

Quote of the Day:

"There's one in every crowd and they always find me."

- Unknown

Monday, March 7, 2005

Tuffy, R. Lee Ermey, and Me

Big News. And I mean BIG NEWS!!!!!

Let me start from the beginning. Back in October, I took a trip to San Antonio to visit a friend named Joe “Tuffy” Tofuri to partake in a military ball and recruit graduation. You can read about it starting here.

Joe had written a book called Tuffy’s Heroes about his experiences as a Training Instructor (an Air Force version of a Drill Instructor) and one of his big dreams was meeting the famed R. Lee Ermey who played Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Full Metal Jacket.

Not long after my visit, Tuffy got a hold of Lee’s address and sent him a nice letter and a copy of his book. A couple of weeks after that, Tuffy got a phone call out of the blue from none other than Lee himself who called to thank Tuffy and tell him he was enjoying the book. Of course, Tuffy might as well have gotten a Diety-to-Person call from God and I was afraid for poor old Tuffy’s heart. It was an indescribable honor for him that Lee would take the time and call, much less read the book.

Here is where it gets better. Tuffy finds out the Lee is coming to San Antonio for a car show and waits 3 hours in line just to get an autograph. By the time he gets to the front, Lee had already seen the “Tuffy’s Heroes” hat and knew Tuffy by sight when he approached. They talked for 15 minutes like old friends and once again, Tuffy was dizzy with excitement.

OK, it gets even better.

Later that night, Joe gets a phone call from, you guessed it, Lee who tells Tuffy he’s 80 pages from finishing the book and he absolutely loves it. The similarity between what he describes in the book and Lee’s experience as a Drill Instructor in the 60’s was uncanny.

Some time later, Lee calls him yet again and puts forth the crowning exchange.

Lee says that for years, the second largest animation company in Hollywood has been bugging him to do an animated series about a retired DI who starts a fat farm. Lee put this off for years but he loved Tuffy’s Heroes so much that he not only wants to commit to the project, but wants to use Tuffy’s book as the pilot. And he wants Tuffy to write the screenplay and come onboard as technical advisor.

By this time, Tuffy is finding it hard to stay conscious.

Lee goes on to tell him to start writing a screenplay and when Tuffy says he didn’t know how, Lee’s famous personality comes out and tells him he better get on the net or go to the library and get a book that’ll teach him how to do it.

OK, so now Tuffy is practically in full cardiac arrest. He calls me to tell me all this and as you can imagine, I was floored. I told Tuffy he can count on me to help in any way (look over the screenplay, maintain his webpage, get his slippers, whatever).

He did warn Tuffy that becasue it's Hollywood, things could go awry but was excited about the project. What? There are no promises in Hollywood? Perish the thought! But it's better than say, a week ago before Tuffy could have dreamed of such a possibility.

The other cool thing about all this is that Lee says it looks like might be available this October to go to San Antonio and participate in the same ceremony that I went to last year. With a big name on the ticket, it should be no problem to realize Tuffy’s other dream: to get DI/TI/Drill Sergeant/Training Petty Officer reps from all services together to share experiences.

And maybe the coolest thing of all in a self-centered “Jason Is The Center Of The Universe” kind of way: when Lee said he could probably make it to San Antonio, Tuffy told him the TI Association would pay his airfare and for a hotel room but that Tuffy would like to extend him home for Lee if he wanted. Lee said that given the choice, he’d rather stay with Tuffy.

Tuffy’s initial statement when I got on the phone with him: “Jason, it looks like you might have a roomie in October if you come down.”

OK, just in case you are missing this, let me spell it out for you: In October 2005, I will be flying to San Antonio to spend three days buddying around with Joe “Tuffy” Tofuri and R. Lee Ermey in Tuffy’s apartment and the greater San Antonio area. Just Tuffy, his wife, R. Lee Ermey, and me in the apartment.

Someone pass the smelling salts…………

Free Advice for Today:
“Remember that cruel words deeply hurt."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003

Quote of the Day:

"Just when you think you've won the rat race along come faster rats."

- Unknown

Sunday, March 6, 2005

Waffles and Rootbeer: Not The Greatest Mixture

Even before the kids came along, I have been making waffles. It all started from a Christmas gift from my mom many years ago when the UPS man showed up early one weekend morning and delivered a waffle iron. Ever since then, a waffle-maker I have been, starting that very morning.

When the kids came along, they dubbed them “Daddy’s Kind of Waffles” even when Carrie ends up making them, which is quite often. It’s simply the Bisquick recipe but never the less, they get rave reviews from the spawn.

To distinguish the types enjoyed in the Grose household, Carrie has her own variety the kids dub, not surprisingly, “Mommy’s Kind of Waffles.” What is surprising is that although Carrie is a wonderful cook, her “waffles” are Eggos right from the freezer. I get credit for the “homemade” waffles despite them being one of the half dozen things I can prepare for human consumption. Yes, soup is on that list. As is Chef Boy Arde pizzas.

This morning, my daughter looked at me with her big bowling ball eyes and asked if I would make “Daddy’s Kind of Waffles.” What the hell was I supposed to do? So I strapped on the apron and went to work. Actually, I don’t wear aprons because

1. I’m a guy and

2. I don’t enjoy the Macy’s Day Parade.

With one glutinous display done, late in the morning, my plans for lunch and dinner were negatively affected. See, I had these three A&W coupons for free meals that I planned to use and then my pizzas for dinner. Carrie was coming home and I thought she’d be tired and hungry. Plus, points galore for taking care of dinner with my culinary expertise.

We did end up going to A&W but late in afternoon. And let me announce that I scored one against the conspiracy of bad service that follows me anywhere I go. In fact, the very reason I had these coupons was because we had such cataclysmically bad service there a few months ago that they gave us free meal passes.

This was my shot. The coupons just said “free meal” so I was free to get anything, in any amount, that I wanted. Oh, the possibilities. Reap it, you mother%$#s!!!!

And of course I was a perfect gentleman about it.

“OK, here’s how it’s gonna work. I want the cheeseburger meal for my daughter. Kid’s meal? You’re kidding right? No, I know she’s only 11 but guess what, why don’t you give me the full size meal and in fact, upsize that bastard just for kicks.”

“Now pay attention, the boy wants a hotdog. No meal deals? No problem. Just give me the dog and an extra large order of fries. What? You only have one size and then a family size? Family size it is.”

“Normally I’d just have one burger but whattya say we go for two. Family fry me once again and I’ll take a large root beer in the mug.”

I felt like there was a white light shining down on me as trumpets blared and angels sung. So many times had I been on the prison-wife end of fast food ineptitude and now I had a free ticket to ride. And I was ridin'!!!

When the order came, it was a little jacked. They had an order of hushpuppies. Hushpuppies? Who the f$%^ ordered hushpuppies? And there was an order of fries missing.

The manager apologized profusely and let me keep the hushpuppies (even though I had never had the faintest urge to put on in my mouth, but thanks). When we got to the table, I noticed that there was still one order of fries I was missing so I went back to get them.

Ecstatic with my victory, I sat at the booth and surveyed my domain. There was fast food as far as the eye could see and it was all reparation for a lifetime of abuse.

We dove into it like wildebeests.

After all was said and done, I sat there, glazed-eyed and with a debilitating pain in my distended gut. I was in agony but I had overcome, right? I had returned a shot to the Man, didn’t I?

Waddling out of the restaurant, I had only my Pyrrhic victory to wallow in.

The kids rang the service bell indicating they enjoyed their meal. I, on the other hand, forced down a gag reflex but not soon enough to get a small dose of bile. The sweet taste of victory can be a little tangy.

Free Advice for Today:
“Rememebr that a minute of anger denies you sixty seconds of happiness."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003

Quote of the Day:

"Thank you. We're all refreshed and challenged by your unique point of view."

- Unknown

Saturday, March 5, 2005

Deep Fried Breaded Crisco Balls Of Satan

They went and did it. The only defense I had up to this point was distance. I was safe. Supply point discipline. If it’s not there, I can’t indulge.

But as of March 1st, they went and ruined everything.

Krispy Kreme opened up a store near me.

AHHHHHHH! The humanity!!!!!

Steph wanted to go so after a heated debate that consisted of me saying “OK”, we took off.

Satan’s Eye, better known as the hot light, was lit. Because it was the first Saturday, the entire population of Virginia decided it was necessary to show up. We took our place in line back by the restrooms and waited our turn to pay money for grease and sugar.

As though we weren't throwing our health out to begin with, they had to go and up the ante. As we stood there, one of the employees came around with a tray of fresh glazed donuts and handed one to each person waiting in line.

The damn thing just melted. I mean it hit my tongue and dissolved like cotton candy. A gentle moan escaped my closed mouth and a small tear appeared in the corner of my eye.

In two more bites, it was a memory. A fat-producing, spare tire-creating memory.

It took over ½ hour to get through the line and they had glass partitions between the line and where they make the donuts. So you can watch the machinery make the Beelzebub’s Buttholes. They start as wads of dough and get carried up through a heater and after several handoffs that do not involve human hands (the work of the DEVIL, I tell you!), end up in their own little pocket of oil. After being dumped in a conveyer belt in perfect Germanic precision, they are rolled through a solid waterfall of glaze (glazefall?) before being picked off my long straws by workers (demons) who put them in boxes.

It reminded me of that old Bugs Bunny cartoon with the two chipmunks who get caught in the vegetable processing plant. The machinery moved just like that and I expected to see some cartoon character barely miss a fall into hot oil by a perfectly timed beam catching his footfall. I don’t know, maybe they put a hallucinogenic in those damn things.

The line was so long that I spied a second worker coming down the line giving out a second free donut. I couldn’t believe it and right then and there decided that I was going to resist this temptation. I mean, what was I? Was my will so weak that I can’t pass up a silly little donut. I mean all I have to say when she comes by …

Oh, thanks” (cramming it in my mouth with wild eyes and yet another tear rolling down my cheek.)

We finally got to the front and I felt almost guilty. I could have left right there, sufficiently full on the two donuts I had already eaten and a greater man would have. I could just walk out because the thought of another donut was almost nauseating. So with all my will I ….

“OK, 4 of the chocolate glazed and two more of the ones with sprinkles. Are the crème filled ones custard or just cream. OK, then throw in two of those chocolate covered ones. Let’s see, just give me 4 of the glazed to round out the dozen.”

I gained 4 pounds just ordering that. And what was scarier is that I spit out that order really fast and the guy’s hands were like blurry and he nailed the order without asking a repeat. I was impressed. This guy knew his donuts. And how to scortch my writhing body for all of eternity, I have no doubt.

About $7 later I was out the door, knowing I had just committed a number of sins on my diet and exercise plans.

It just isn’t right. These people just don’t know the forces they unleash. Weekend after weekend it will be there, calling me, beckoning me to come and splurge. And like a robotic assbag that I am, I will succumb. Oh why have You forsaken me?

Free Advice for Today:
“When talking to the press, remember they always have the last word."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003

Quote of the Day:

"I don't know what your problem is, but I'll bet it's hard to pronounce."

- Unknown

Friday, March 4, 2005

Infinity Daddy Points, Thank You

OK, someone pass me the Dad Of The Year trophy. Yeah, over here. Gimme that. Thanks.

Carrie had a 4H counseling thing this weekend which left me with the kids. This is cool and I love spending time with them but the first requirement tested my mettle.

I had to take my daughter to her school and participate in a Build A Bear torture session. For those of you lucky enough never to be subjected to this treatment, it’s this little fantasy where you stuff a bear, fill out the “birth” certificate, blah, blah, blah, stab yourself in the eye with scissors....

Now this is pure mother/daughter stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I did partake in the joy it created for my daughter but since I’m convinced that I’m pretty much bipolar, I have the ability enjoy one aspect of something and then totally choke on my own vomit over the rest of it.

Case in point: I was just about the only Dad there so I was flung into a crowd of overweight mommies spending quality time with their little darlings.

Let me digress for a moment and point out, yet once again, that we Americans are fat. Not just a little pudgy but downright supersized to the oozing hilt.

We get our bag of stuff and find a table to create our wildcat in a disturbing, Frankensteinian nightmare fashion. First, we cram white stuffing through a hole in its stomach near its pelvic area. Feeling very Michael Jackson, I helped cram this stuff into this lifeless little wildcat, getting it in all the various outposts such as arms, head, legs, etc.

After the cramming process, it was time to get the little fabric star, make a wish, and put it in before we closed everything up. I don’t know what my daughter wished but was it wrong if mine had something to do with most of the cast of Desperate Housewives? Just checking.

I performed the required tying off and sewed up the gut; a duty that really made me feel like this was just ten kinds of wrong. After filling out the certificate (with the name of “Stripes” if you must know), it was time to take it over to the plastic swimming pool and “clean” it up using the white and blue crete paper in the pool. This, I can only surmise, was to get all of the amniotic fluid, blood, and Crisco paste from the newborn.

Hey, it was their idea to clean it. Is it my fault if it represents a disturbingly graphic scene?

After cleaning and brushing the 1 mm of fake fur, it was time to get this little guy dressed. On with the shirt and shorts and let’s not forget about the hole for the tail which I thought was a convenient crapper hole and a heck of an idea for a line of shorts if I ever decide to go in that direction. But then I’d have to go real gay and I just don’t think I’m up for it. But I digress.

We were finally done and I was a hero of the Hinterland. Steph got her stuffed wildcat (to add to the approximately 140 trillion other stuffed toys in her room) and I got, well, about the only thing worth mentioning is watching her having a good time.

And I guess that’s enough. So if you’ll excuse me, I have to go cut a hole in a pair of shorts.

Free Advice for Today:
“Don't rain on other people's parade."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003

Quote of the Day:

"Any connection between your reality and mine is purely coincidental."

- Unknown

Thursday, March 3, 2005

Go Crack A Skull For Daddy

My boy is moving up in the sports world. I don’t want this to sound too “Emilio Estevez in The Breakfast Club” but my teenage son has now moved from “Recreational Soccer” to “Classic Soccer.”

I’m not making that up, it’s the categories they used. And for you SAT enthusiasts, let’s put it this way:

“Classic soccer” is to “Recreational soccer” as “Hockey” is to “Holiday On Ice.”

In other words, they are drop dead serious about this and the kids had to actually try out for the team and be accepted. Here is how I explained this to Alex when he was feeling a little pressure before the first practice:

“Remember being on the teams that suck? There were kids who really didn’t care or weren’t all that good? Remember how it felt when one of these guys came in to the game and out of fairness, the coach had to play him but you knew that it was almost worse than being one man short? It was actually detrimental to the team.”

“Now you are old enough to be on a team that the weaker players can actually get cut. The years of putting up with everyone regardless of their ability is over. Remember what you wished when you had to play on those teams? Remember thinking it would be great if the weak players didn’t come in and ruin the game? Well now you get your wish. This is the next step up and now you are playing for more than just fun. You are still playing for fun but you are playing to win and the fun comes in getting better and taking your individual talents to higher levels so you can win as a team of talented players.”

He felt better after all this and a bit more conversation about his talent and the expectations the coach had. (Alex was setting them too high for himself, just like his old man.)

So tonight was the first meeting and it turns out his coach is a retired Marine pilot who now lives and breathes soccer. He teaches refs how to ref and also does a fair bit of reffing himself. He just finished his master’s degree in sports science (something about learning theory associated with sports.)

Walking into his house, he was geeked out to the hilt. By the time I got downstairs, I counted two computers and two more laptops, one hooked up to the bigscreen TV sporting a PowerPoint slide for the meeting.

He had created disks for each player with the contact info and a self-extracting program that showed video of the basic ball handling steps he expected each player to practice on his own.

This is not your daddy’s soccer.

It occurred to me that this was an interesting fusion of geekiness and sports. He had computerized the training to appeal to this generation of netheads but still stressed the basics of soccer during practice. Amazing if not a bit scary.

There was one detractor; a modern Ludite if you will. One of the parents spoke up after the coach said he would provide schedule updates via email. This particular parent said he didn’t have email and wouldn’t use it if he did. Of course we all looked at him as though he had climbed up on the Pope and shit down his throat.

The coaches response: “Get with another parent to give you a call in case something changes.”

I thought this a ballsy move which would have pissed me off if I was in his position. But then this was the same guy who announced that Sunday was a family day so if we had to have practice, why not get it over with starting at 0600. At that point, I think we all debated who would be the first to climb up and shit down HIS throat.

To sum up, my boy has now graduated to the cut throat world of classic soccer. Gone are the days that we have to put up with Corky screwing up the games with his total lack of natural talent. This may sound harsh and yes, it would be at the younger age when teamwork and giving everyone a shot are the names of the games. But now, as a teen, he can be introduced to the real world where you are judged on both performance AND talent. Welcome, Son.

Free Advice for Today:
“Enjoy real maple syrup."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003

Quote of the Day:

"No, my powers can only be used for good."

- Unknown

Wednesday, March 2, 2005


Yesterday I wrote about one of my favorite SNL skits and no discussion about SNL skits could ever be complete without the Cowbell skit.

First, let me say that I think Christopher Walken is both the funniest and creepiest actors in Hollywood. I have had long discussions with my brother about his stuff and we both agree that what makes him so funny is that he neither tries or even knows he is being funny. Or if he is aware, he doesn’t realize that he is funny for completely different reasons that what he thinks. It’s his deadpan confusion that makes him so hilarious.

His Continental could easily be on this list but for now, I shall go for the apex of Christopher Walken on SNL: The Cowbell skit.

I found it online and am posting it so you can watch it for yourself. It is arguable whether Walken or Will Ferrell is the real star of the skit but it also has the element that I mentioned yesterday that makes it funny. If you watch Horatio Sans and Jimmy Fallon, you can see that both cannot help but laugh at the antics of Will Farrell. Especially Fallon but since when has he ever been able to hold it together with Sans and Farrell in a skit?

So yes, while Walken is scary and his desire for “More Cowbell” became a buzz-phrase of Biblical proportions to all SNL fans, I have to give this one to Ferrell who shamelessly lets his shirt ride up as he raises his arm to play his cowbell with reckless abandon. It just proves that he will do anything, ANYTHING for a laugh, to include kissing male cast members and guests hosts just for the laugh/shock value.

BTW, I read that the original members of Blue Oyster Cult, who sang “Don’t fear The Reaper” (the song in the skit), saw the skit for the first time as it aired and had no idea they were going to be spoofed. It made it all the weirder for the name they flashed at the end “In Memory” since he was watching and was not dead at the time.

Free Advice for Today:
“Set short-term and long-term goals."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003

Quote of the Day:

"The fact that no one understands you doesn't mean you're an artist."

- Unknown

Tuesday, March 1, 2005

Pimp Chat

I don’t claim to be the most political correct person, especially here in the blog. There are things that come out that, yeah, I wouldn’t want my mom to read but I rarely censor myself very much and I have to admit, my sense of humor sometimes falls on the far side of good taste. But I just love a good laugh and sometimes, it’s not the most antiseptic subject that does the trick.

And you know I wouldn’t be saying this unless something juicy wasn’t coming up. Let me apologize up front to those of my readers who wish I would not discuss such subjects.

I had a conversation with my wife the other day and here is how these things play out. I get myself all worked up on describing something I find interesting/funny/motivating/completely gross and then go on to overanalyze the shit out of it. But I’m just not content on convincing my wife she made a bad mistake in 1988; no, I have to even do more research on it via the good old Internet and after putting so much mental effort into it, it often ends up right here in the good old blog.

This is one of those situations.

The topic was favorite Saturday Night Live skits (and just to give the full evolution, we saw Dodgeball and started with the subject of Vince Vaughn which led to his SNL performance). OK, are we together now?

While there is many that are worthy, I will stick with one of my favorites.

Pimp Chat

Again, I know this is not the most rated G skit but there were a few things, aside from the absurdity of a pimp talk show, that made this a classic. I find the funniest thing about a skit is when it makes the performers crack each other up. When they just can’t help but lose it. This CAN and HAS been taken too far (just about every Carol Burnett Show skit) but when you can tell it’s legit, I just love it.

Now what makes this one classic was that it was the most unexpected performance you could imagine. I didn’t know who the hell Vince Vaughn was; only that he was this tall white guy who looked about as “street” as Charlie Brown.

He was holding his own in the skit and had a pretty good “pimp” accent but it wasn’t until near the end that he just let loose. He busted out a whole paragraph that was so dead on, said with such conviction and perfectly timed lilt in his voice that it almost sounded like a sermon. Near the end, he brought it all home by introducing just a touch of anger in his voice that brought the whole house down.

Now I’m not the only one who was duly impressed. Although I was sitting there with my mouth open, not believing that I just heard this white bread actor completely nail his lines in a way that made my heart beat a little faster, but Tim Meadows, one of the other actors in the scene, had to look away smiling after being obviously shocked at the veracity of the delivery.

I was impressed, Tim Meadows was cracking up, but the real measure of success had to be the crowd. As he started into this paragraph, he started rolling his momentum and volume. The crowd reacted and followed him syllable for syllable, reacting to each line in ever-increasing feedback. Then when he hit the last line, practically spitting out the last words as if in anger, the crowd must have been on their feet. The roar, and that’s what it was: a ROAR, from the crowd was epic. It must be every performers dream to have the audience react like that and he had that crowd whipped up to frothy boil. It was another thing that Tim Meadows reacted to and you could tell everyone was sitting there kind of stunned, hearing this inspired imitation of a black pimp my a white actor. Despite the subject matter, it was an incredible performance.

After talking about this, I scoured the Internet looking for the clip but to no avail. The closest I came was the script and here is the paragraph I’ve been raving about.

White Chocolate: Then all them bitches wanna come jump on my pimp train! 'Cause I'm the engine, all them hos are the cabooses! I'm always in motion, baby, just like the ocean! All them hos wanna come and get some of this White Chocolate! pimpin' love potion, brotha!

The entire script can be read here.

Free Advice for Today:
“Support equal pay for equal work."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003

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