Jason's BLOG pages

 
 

 


How Did I Get Here?

(and what is that smell?)

April 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:

"I don't care who you are, what you are driving, or where you would rather be.”

- Bumper Sticker

Friday, April 29, 2005

A Travelling Jason Is A Miserable Jason

Mapquest is the new enemy. I now hate Mapquest with the white-hot intensity of a thousand suns.

Why this venom, you ask? Simple: Mapquest totally and completely screwed me over as though I had said something disparaging about its lineage. Oh yeah, it got me good.

Like a good little drone, I pulled up Mapquest to go from my house to Jacksonville, NC. We are going to attend the retirement of a good friend and thought getting from point A (Fredericksburg, VA) to point B (Jacksonville) would be a simple matter. I mean, come on, almost due south.

I printed out the instructions and we were off in the morning.

Mistake #1: I trusted Mapquest completely
Mistake #2: I did not notice there were about 36 trillion little twists and turns on the “best” route it laughingly wanted me to follow.
Mistake #3: I didn’t bother bringing a road atlas for backup

All of these are of course my wife’s fault including Mistake #4 which was to lock herself and the kids up in a Honda Pilot with a raging maniac.

Everything was going fine until we started getting into the deep woods of North Carolina. My mood took a deep nosedive as we had to guess at Mapquest’s cryptic instructions. At one point, it told us to “Take HWY 666” (I’m making up numbers here but that one seemed apt.) The problem was that HWY 666 went exactly two direction and the instructions didn’t say which way to go so I used logic. What an idiot!

I hate wasting miles. And I mean HATE, HATE, HATE, HATE, HATE!!!!!!!!!!! If there is anything I hate worse, which there are few things, it’s not knowing if I’m in the hate-filled situation of wasting miles. I just can’t get it out of my head that if I’m going along, completely void of complete confidence that I’m going the right direction (especially if it’s a coin toss situation like this one) that I’m doubling my pain.

Inside Jason’s head:

You know that you could have chosen wrong, right?
Yes, thanks for pointing that out
Your welcome. And if you did, these miles are being wasted.
Again, thanks for the obvious and the rabble-rousing.
No problem. Oh, and not only would you be covering miles you don’t have to, but you will have to cover them again coming back which, in essence, doubles your waste.
Are you having fun?
Well, only if you let me point out that you will have double the wasted miles, the wasted time, the wasted gas, and end up right back at your decision point. You then will be required to start again in the right direction, this time.
You suck.

This is the internal fight I was waging and it spilled over into making a very stressful situation for the entire family. I am not proud of this and actually hate being that way. But it’s a flat spin and I’ve yet to figure out a way out of it even when I realize I’m in it. When I’m like that, I don’t WANT to get out of it. Insidious.

Back to the highway, the next pubic hair in the sandwich was that we had about 30 miles to go before we hit the next turn so if we were wrong, it would take a half hour to figure out, a half hour back, and another half hour to get to where we were supposed to be. One small mistake = 1 ½ hours of driving.

We drove 35 miles looking for the next turn: HWY 111. It never showed.

I turned green.

Driving back the 35 miles was probably one of the low points in the Grose family. My behavior was, well, less than optimal.

Getting to the decision point only sparked my anger more. But hey, it was only 30 miles more, right?

About 11 miles into it we saw a turnoff for 111. Wait a minute, the directions say 35 miles. Should we… is that… can we…

Maybe it meets it again later at the 20 mile mark” chimed in my wife in an effort to help. Help was not requested nor would it be tolerated. I was in full dickhead mode. But it did serve the purpose of providing a blame hook if anything else went wrong.

We got to mile 35, five full miles past where the turn should be and again, no joy. We were officially lost and I was officially irate. We turned around and went back to the 11 mile mark and took that.

Now we were off course and the directions were of little help. I questioned were we were on 111 and was convinced that wherever we were, it wasn’t were Mapquest thought we should be so all the other directions were suspect.

This fed the fire.

“Why don’t you just stop and ask directions?”

Well, first, I have a Y-chromosome so this was a bit of a problem. My solution: come screeching up to a gas station and kick my wife out to ask. I was in no mood to interact with civilized people and to be fair, there wasn’t a lot of civilized people around anyway. Cooter had us going one way and then Gomer told us another way. It was getting bad.

Through my mounting anger, I tried to get across this simple recipe for guys and directions. I need to know:

1. Where I’m at
2. How long I will be on the current road (distance or time, distance preferred)
3. What I will be looking for as the next turn

Then after the initial cycle, I only need #2 and #3.

We got in a big argument over this along the lines of Carrie only giving me either #2 or #3. I need both. Continuously. Or I turn into a Hulking Dickhead.

The final straw was when we stopped at a rest stop because one of the kids had to go to the bathroom and might, just might, had wanted to get out of the Pilot and away from Daddy even if only for a few moments. It was dark and we were already over 6 hours into a 5 ½ hour drive. We had covered many miles, a large portion of which were unnecessary.

I stayed in the Pilot and Carrie looked at the map at the rest stop. She got in a discussion with a guy who was obviously a Marine (haircut) and he told her we were heading the wrong way. We had somehow ended up north of the cutoff and therefore would never find it in our current direction. The good news is that if we continued on from this point, the direction we were going was the quickest way to another approach to the town.

Carrie had a bit more than a little trepidation about conveying this latest news to me. She did and predictably, I blew yet another gasket and made the rest of the trip par for course when we are in situations like that.

We finally pulled into town and got our motel room. Top Garcia, one of my Drill Instructors from 1987, had retired and ran this hotel. He made sure we got the best room he had and once again, after all these years, I was under the roof of Sergio Garcia. Although he was much nicer now and I was as surly as he was back then.

I accept the blame, it's just a part of my personality; a bad part. But since blame must be shared, let it be known far and wide that I have banished Mapquest from my use for all of eternity. No parole, no reconsideration, it now tops my Shit List. I will now be a Yahoo! guy. So it is said, so it is done.

I went to bed in silence, knowing that I had caused much heartache this day. Hopefully tomorrow would be better.




Free Advice for Today:
"Don't make eating everything on their plate an issue with children."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003


Quote of the Day:

"Machines should work, people should think.”

- Unknown

Monday, April 25, 2005

Long-Standing Feuds

I consider myself a logical person. I don’t relish debate very often but when I think I’m right, which is most of the time because, let’s face it, so does everyone else, I tend to argue the point.

Lately, I’ve corrected a friend on technicalities and all I got from it was the label “P.S.” Police” and a statement that no one likes a braggart. See what you think.

This person likes to use the “P.S.” concept which is great. Afterthoughts make up most of my thought population so I welcome them in writing. But I had to point out that (because apparently I’m a braggart) the acronym stands for “Post Script” which means something after the signature in a letter. Since she never actually signed her email, the “Post Script” notation made no sense.

She let that one slide but I think I pushed the envelope. Her next email came with the required signature and a proper “P.S.” but then she followed it up with a “P.S.S.”

A normal person (read “not me”) wouldn’t push it at this point.

So I push it. I point out that the “P” in “P.S.” stands for “Post” which means “after” or “subsequent” so the proper way to tack on additional thought would be “P.P.S” which is “Post P.S.” AKA, after the “P.S.” and by extension, “after the first afterthought after the signature.”

What she had wrote was “Post Script Script” which is ridiculous and made no sense, with or without a signature.

At this point I was cut off from further “P.S.’s” and ignoring the use of the acronym as a noun, I humbly apologized and begged for the return of her informative and delightful “P.S.’s”

The next example comes from my wife. I will say something like “We should do something next Saturday.” In return, I get a “What about THIS Saturday?

“That’s what I said, next Saturday.”

“But that’s over a week away.”

“No, next Saturday.”

“This Saturday?”

“Yes.”

“So you mean this Saturday.”

This goes on and on but let me cut to the meat of the argument.

To me, “this Saturday” and “next Saturday” are one and the same. To her, “this Saturday" means the one coming up and “next Saturday” is the one after that.

“Honey, what is today?”
“Wednesday.”
“And what day will it be in three days?”
“Saturday.”
“So is that not the next Saturday that we will encounter?”
“Yeah, this Saturday.”
“YES! THIS Saturday. And also know as the NEXT Saturday as in the NEXT one we will encounter!!!”
“So what is the Saturday after that?”
“The Saturday after NEXT!!!”

It seems so clear to me folks. But she will not concede.

The last example I have is what is written on a coffee mug we’ve had for years. It says: “Father Knows Best But Mom Knows Better.”

For years I took this to mean its likely funny intent, that the mother is the superior knowledge keeper. But then I got to looking at it one day and realized something.

Best” is the best. There can be no better that “best” simply because by definition, nothing can be above “best” or…. here it comes…. IT WOULDN’T BE BEST.

“So, My Dear, Father Knows Best.”
“Yeah, but Mom Knows Better.”
“Better than what? Not Father because he knows BEST.”

This is another one that goes on and on. She insists that no matter what level “Best” is set at, you can better it by just adding on the adjective “better.” This is extremely familiar to the “infinity times / infinity plus one” argument which, ironically, we’ve never got into.

Very Respectfully,

Jason

P.S. This Saturday I’ll be in Lejeune and next Saturday I’ll be there too. But we will be there for a total of three days. Why? Because Father Knows Best.




Free Advice for Today:
"Think twice before accepting the lowest bid."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003


Quote of the Day:

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

- George Bernard Shaw

Sunday, April 24, 2005

A Day Void

So what does a super-sophisticated Marine Captain and all around stud do on a full Sunday off from work and training? Skydive? Hike up big mountains? Take inventory on the belly-button lint? I don't know what THAT guy does but for me, it's probably closer to #3 than the other two, if you must know.

Today I did nothing so exciting to get your collective juices flowing. Nothing to write about, nothing to impress, nothing to humor you like some little monkey throwing his own feces. (Although that IS pretty funny but I guess a little less so if you picture me doing it. Unless it’s at someone else whereas THAT would be freakin’ hilarious!)

OK, I’ve degraded down to throwing feces material. Mom would be so proud.

I did do a lot of catch-up reading, though. I know, I know, but the excitement just gotta be shared. Now I can say I’m up to date on the Saturday and Sunday rags they call newspapers in this pitiful town of Fredericksburg. That doesn’t sound like much of an accomplishment until you consider I’ve been known to be behind 6 months at a pop. If I get ‘em, I read ‘em…. eventually. Then the “news” takes on a different aspect. It morphs into “history.” And I’m an “idiot” for waiting so long.

OK, so newspapers, check.

I finished an ultrarunning book with a bunch of stories in it. And I renewed my baseless assertion that I can run a 100 mile race. The stories were great and the only things they had in common were that all the people were poor athletes when they were young, started with really small distances and progressed up to the 100 mile range, and no matter what, running 100 miles really hurts. Bad. Like “what the f^#^” bad.

So I got that to look forward to.

Rather than keeping in the ultrarunning genre, I started a book I’ve been waiting to read for years called “Dereliction Of Duty” written by the Air Force Officer in charge of “The Football” for President Clinton. “The Football” is the briefcase that carries the nuclear weapon launch codes. In other words, “The Button.” The book describes how utterly corrupt and irresponsible Clinton was with the ultimate weapon and other aspects of the Presidency, written from a man who stood next to him on a daily basis. It’s pretty scary so far.

I also broke the seal on a PC Magazine so now I’m only a few years behnd that. I should be done…. Never.

Finally, I started watching the first season of “24.” I had missed the first season and my brother went nuts over it and told me I had to start watching it. The problem was, I had missed the first season and didn’t want to jump in mid-stride so I put it off… for years. In the meantime, I couldn’t watch the new episodes.

A couple of Christmases ago, I bought Chris the first season on DVD and a few weeks ago, he sent them back to me on loan to rectify my long-standing neglect of this incredible series. So last night I watched episodes 1 and 2 and you know what? It’s pretty damn good.

(collective “Duh!”)

So there you have it, the super-sexy day in the super-sexy life of me. Please, I can feel your collective envy and it’s ugly. Your are all better than that.

But hey, there’s no one shooting at me and a bad day at home beats the best day in Iraq.




Free Advice for Today:
"Avoid approaching horses and restaurants from the rear."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003


Quote of the Day:

"If the enemy is in range, so are you.”

- Unknown

Saturday, April 23, 2005

The Gut Rebels

I was robbed today. My free eating day was discombobulated by a general rebellion organized by my stomach.

It started off fine by waking early and going on an 8 mile run with Sir Phil at the base. OK, the route is probably a little less than 8 miles since I run it between a healthy 1:11 and 1:20 depending on how much of a schmuck I feel like that day. Today was a solid 1:15 which is average until you consider I had to make a pit stop at a port-a-potty because I didn’t take the run all that seriously and prep like I should have.

OK, if you must know, I normally get up early, get a little something to eat, drink a small amount of coffee, and have time to, um, clear the courtroom before embarking on my run. After going 26.8 last week, today’s 8 mile didn’t seem prep-worthy so I crawled out of bed, threw on my running clothes, and got to Sir Phil’s 20 minutes late which, using the Sir Phil vernacular, made him “huffy.”

My legs were Stiffy McStifflies until after mile 4 which didn’t matter to sir Phil who decided we should hammer the first 3 miles. The thought kept going through my head “I train almost every day and he never runs. Why do I feel like the anchor?”

When I got home, Carrie had waffle batter at the ready and bacon as far as the arteries could see. I launched into them like a man possessed by the Patron Saint of Waffle Gluttony but I noticed that after three squares, I was content. A few more slices of bacon and I was good. Weird.

Alex had a soccer game so we hiked out to the biggest soccer complex I had ever seen. We were on field 15 which, you guessed it, at the far end. We parked by field 1 and got a work out just carrying all our crap the length of 15 soccer fields.

Carrie offered to go get us something to eat seeing how would be there for 2 hours and through the lunching hour. Back she came with my perennial favorite: Taco Hell.

Then it started happening. I ate it, are you crazy? Let’s not lose our minds, here, folks. I gobbled down two double deckers and a bean burrito like a starving man. But did I enjoy it? Not as much as past encounters with the south-of-the-border staple. I ate it because it was Taco Hell, after all but the pleasure derived was not all that it was cracked up to be. What was happening to me? A tear rolled down my cheek and dripped into the lard-ladened pseudo-meat of my taco.

For the rest of the day, I paid for forcing that meal. My stomach organized a general rebellion and decided that retribution should be swift and violent. I fought back valiantly by eating a few pretzels and some thin mint Girl Scout cookies but this seemed to only inflame the general disarray. By the time dinnertime rolled around, I was overcome and the battle was all but decided. The thought of going to Pancho Villa Mexican Restaurant was about on an even scale with plateloads of baked ass-mud smothered in a tangy vomit sauce.

So I took a pass when my family asked if I wanted to go and opted to stay home and eat split pea soup. Oh, the injustice.

It’s getting worse, folks. Last week, I was too worried about the 26.2 miles I was to run and passed on a Mexican dinner. This week, I was cleared hot but my body had other plans. I know this is a good sign that my body is healthily rejecting the crap I still crave even when I’m given the green light once a week. But those craving are still there during the week and sometimes the promise of the free day is the only thing that gets me through.

Seems to be some classical conditioning going on these days in the skin of Jason.




Free Advice for Today:
"Never claim victory prematurely."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003


Quote of the Day:

"Don’t let your life slip through your fingers by living in the past or for the future. By living your life one day at a time, you live ALL the days of your
life.”

- Unknown

Friday, April 22, 2005

I Have Email Issues

I know I promise that I will answer all the email I get but sometimes it gets to be a bit much. Not that I want people to stop sending email, that’s not what I’m saying. Geez, people, put away the guillotine! What I’m saying is that I have not been a stellar performer on the email stage. I’ve been more like Ashley Simpson on the SNL stage. Lazily faking my way through.

Granted, I’ve brought this on myself. I mean who opens up a website and then promises that he will answer every email, no matter how repetitive or insane? Uh, that would be me. And then I tend to let them build up until, like right now, I have in the neighborhood of 164 emails in my inbox and folks, that’s a heavy burden to carry around.

The wife likes to point out that I really don’t have to answer every one and it really pisses me off because… she’s right. But I just can’t bear to kill them so I starve them. They are like 164 starving chicks with their little virtual beaks wide open screaming for some digital worms. Even the scary ones like the following (which is verbatim, pasted out of email):

can you please let me know what type of clippers they used for the marines what is done with all that hair what happens with the retired clippers please email me at…

So here’s what happens, I finally go way back and start the Typing-O-Shame. I craft some apologetic masterpiece and hit send only to find out that the email account is no longer active.

Apparently procrastination and email do not mix well.

And my ultimate excuse for all this? That would be the blogging. While I’ve really enjoyed the blogging (and who wouldn’t? A writing assignment every single day), it has displaced a lot of attention to email and general webpage keep up. Trade-offs, people, trade-offs. Gold like this don't just fall out of the sky like shining meteors.

So what do I do about all this? Simple, what I always state as the golden solution: dedicate more time to a balanced web-presence without it impacting my already busy schedule while simultaneously blocking out more time for training and family time.

OK, sleep, you’re done!




Free Advice for Today:
"Never give anyone a fondue set or anything painted avocado green."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003


Quote of the Day:

"My mind not only wanders, sometimes it leaves completely.”

- Unknown

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Goodbye Old Friend and Hello, Fast Pain

I don’t know what makes me like this but I’m sentimental even with my electronics. You will recall blog wishing farewell to my trusty Kazoo MP3 player.

Well, it’s time again to say farewell to another electronic soul that’s been with me for a few years: the laptop is critical.

It’s not even mine. When I was going through the Naval Postgraduate School, the Morale, Welfare, and Recreation department needed their website revamped. They couldn’t pay me but they agreed to provide me a state-of-the-art laptop to work on and I could use it while I was going to school for 2 years. When I left, they “signed” it out to me on the agreement they could tap me for support if need be. They got a webmaster and I got a laptop. It was a sweet deal but only while supplies last.

The Vaio laptop was faster than either one of the older computers in my kids’ rooms and I am always on the main computer so the kids like to use it to play their games. Lately it had a lot of pop up ads (despite software I put on there to prevent it) and it kept turning off. You might recall I had a harddrive problem awhile back that I still suspect.

But after spending a few frustrating hours trying to strip all the malware off of it, I gave up and decided to wipe it clean and start over. After I did that, it kept shutting off while I tried to reinstall the operating system. I got so mad, I just got fed up and decided it was time to return it.

I had a lot of good times with that computer and it was my constant companion at the time I was going to NPS. I even wrote my thesis on it. But It’s time to let go so I will tearfully box it up, take it to the post office, and wave to it with a quivering lip as it floats out of my life forever.

On another note, you’ll notice that I seem to be a day off in my blogs, talking about yesterday. If this bothers you, tough shit.

And on a similar note to THAT, I’ve been in a nasty little mood the last couple of days. Yesterday I about lost it (OK, I DID lose it) as a result of the laptop. And right in the middle of that, I was working on the blog and had to look up the “I Will Survive” lyrics. I did a Google search (of course) and the first link was to some place like hugelyrics.com but when I clicked on it, I was instantly infected with all kinds of pop up and self-installing spyware.

As these things go, they don’t get on my computer because I have software in place to catch it but the malware keeps trying. The result is a pop up box that asks me if I want to allow it. I say “No” and the malware gets the message and asks to install again. So every time I say “No”, it ask again causing the same box to pop up indefinitely.

You can imagine how this affected me since similar malware was in the process of pretty much ruining my laptop.

But I will throw in a victory I had today. If you are a runner, the details might be interesting, even inspiring. But if you’re not, you might be tired of running stories so I’ll keep it brief.

I got an idea in my head last night that I should change up my sprint work out. I run this once a week to build speed and the nasty thing about it is that you can’t have a “good” day if you define “good” as pain free. If you are not wishing for death by the end, you haven’t worked hard enough. It makes it a little tough to get out there on these days.

I decided to change my normal routine (6 x 800 m which is 2 laps) to this monstrosity:

2 x 1 mile sprints (Total = 8 laps)
2 x 800 sprints (Total = 4 laps)
2 x 400 sprints (Total = 2 laps)
2 x 200 sprints (Total = 1 laps)

My goal was to do the second sprint faster than the first one at every stage. Here’s how I did:

Laps per sprint
Total Laps
1st sprint
Pace per mile
2nd sprint
Pace per mile
2 x 1 mile sprints
4
8
6:23
6:23
6:21
6:21
2 x 800 sprints
2
4
3:17
6:34
3:12
6:24
2 x 400 sprints
1
2
1:23
5:32
1:17
5:08
2 x 200 sprints
1/2
1
:32
4:16
:30
4:00

So I guess I was mistaken Monday when I said I couldn't sprint as fast as they can run world-class marathons. Now if I can find a marathon that only lasts 30 seconds.

Take that, and smoke it in your pipe, parahumans!!!

Then a hobbled back to my office and laid down. Luckily no one walked in. I forced myself up, got halfway dressed, then had to stop myself from vomiting. Then I had to lay down again and again, I was lucky no one walked in. I finally got it together and hobbled over to another building for a meeting. About halfway through, I started feeling better.

Speed work is evil.

P.B. (that's "Post Blog for all you uneducated): I found out they voted off the ONLY American Idol I had anything good to say about yesterday. I hope everyone that has anything to do with that show has their genitals skewered with hot pokers for all of eternity in Hell.




Free Advice for Today:
"When you say, "I love you," mean it."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003


Quote of the Day:

"The inevitable result of improved and enlarged communications between different levels in a hierarchy is a vastly increased area of misunderstanding.”

- Unknown

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Thou Shalt Not Worship Idols

I got suckered in last night. I just went downstairs to see what my wife was doing and somehow, I got sucked into the vortex. Not even my light escaped.

It was the 70s disco music that did it. And specifically, the unstated promise of one song.

Yes folks, I … (face turning a slight blush…) I watched (God, it hurts, actually hurts to say it), American Idol last night.

Every other year, I just tune in to see the galactic wrongness that is the first couple of tryouts in an attempt to feel better about myself. I mean, if these people actually believe they’re good, my grip on reality seems firm.

But I broke the cardinal rule last night and got sucked in. Not that I’m a huge fan of 70s dance music. I detest disco. But if there is one genre that, when done right, can bring down the house, it would be that one.

The song I longed for? Well, I didn’t even have a clue who the contestants were but if there was a black woman with a big voice who picked “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor, I knew they’d tear that mother#%$#%#$ house down.

So I watched. And I waited. And I sat through some really horrendous songs. I refuse to do any research so bear with me while I take a stab at what I saw.

They referred to a guy as “Scotty the Body” so I expected some big heartthrob –looking guy to come out. Well, was I wrong. Out came a big fat guy who, granted, could sing but lost pitifully on style points. Ever since that fat guy (Rueben sandwich?) won, the big boys feel they got a shot.

Then you had the farm girl with all her blond curls who could really hit the big notes. But she had Barbie doll hair and a Sunday dress on. Plus, when the host talked to her, she was dumb as a rock, which is quite an accomplishment seeing that the host was Ryan Seacrest.

There was a blond kid that looked about 15 with a hole in his throat where, as my wife gave me the bio of each one, had a tracheotomy when he was young and not expected to talk. Gotta have an underdog, right?

The one that turned my stomach the most was the long-haired Don Juan. Now those that you that follow all this (and accept my sincere condolences) might be wondering which long-haired freak I’m talking about. There are evidently 2 of them. I’ve caught on the radio that this one is the womanizer who seduces the camera each week and people either fall for it or hate him with a white-hot passion. Guess which camp I’m going with?

Rocker Guy was in there somewhere. Surprise, surprise, I didn’t like him either. In fact, I make Simon look like Paula throughout this ordeal and the fact that I actually wrote that sentence using first names will likely result in my sucking on the business end of a 9 mm by the end of the night.

Next was the music teacher with the dreadlocks who did a pretty good job with some Earth, Wind, and Fire song. He looked like he was having a lot of fun and just seemed like a great guy.

That makes 6 and I had one more shot to hear the song I was waiting for. There was a black woman with a name I can’t recall but it was perfect. I assumed she had a big voice (or why would she be on American Idol) and actually anticipated that she would choose my song.

I mean, how can you have a 70s dance song motif and NOT go for “I Will Survive?” If anyone sang it, hell, even Scotty the Body, they would tear that crowd up and bring that entire audience burning down to the ground!!!!

So with bated breath, I waited for the announcement and…. She didn’t sing it. WHAT? NO, YOU HAVE TO SING IT! She cheesed out with some song that Whitney Houston-We-Have-A-Problem remade and therefore kind of cheated her way into doing her weekly Whitney impression.

I mean if you started out with a low “At first I was afraid, I was petrified…”, then the crowd would just explode and by the time you cranked out,

… and so you're back
from outer space
I just walked in to find you here
with that sad look upon your face
I should have changed that stupid lock
I should have made you leave your key
If I had known for just one second
you'd be back to bother me….

Well, even I would have made a call to vote. How do you miss this song? It’s a sure fire winner if you can nail it.

I don’t know what is worse, that I got suckered into watching American Idol or that the very thing that suckered me in never happened, leaving me feeling even more foolish.

Fine, American Idol. You thought I hated you before. That was nothing compared to the loathing I have for you now. I opened up just a crack and you proceeded to beshat the tiny gap. My heart is cold to you now. May you burn in Hell for all of eternity.

Here is what should have been sung:

At first I was afraid
I was petrified
Kept thinking I could never live
without you by my side
But then I spent so many nights
thinking how you did me wrong
And I grew strong
And I learned how to get along
and so you're back
from outer space
I just walked in to find you here
with that sad look upon your face
I should have changed that stupid lock
I should have made you leave your key
If I had known for just one second
you'd be back to bother me

Go on now go walk out the door
just turn around now
'cause you're not welcome anymore
weren't you the one who tried to hurt me with goodbye
Did you think I'd crumble
Did you think I'd lay down and die
Oh no, not I
I will survive
Oh as long as I know how to love
I know I will stay alive
I've got all my life to live
I've got all my love to give
and I'll survive
I will survive (hey-hey)

It took all the strength I had
not to fall apart
kept trying hard to mend
the pieces of my broken heart
and I spent oh so many nights
just feeling sorry for myself
I used to cry
But now I hold my head up high
and you see me
somebody new
I'm not that chained up little person
still in love with you
and so you felt like dropping in
and just expect me to be free
and now I'm saving all my loving
for someone who's loving me

Go on now go walk out the door
just turn around now
'cause you're not welcome anymore
weren't you the one who tried to hurt me with goodbye
Did you think I'd crumble
Did you think I'd lay down and die
Oh no, not I
I will survive
Oh as long as i know how to love
I know I will stay alive
I've got all my life to live
I've got all my love to give
and I'll survive
I will survive
[x2]




Free Advice for Today:
"Offer hope."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003


Quote of the Day:

"Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional.”

- Unknown

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

A Senior Moment

You’ll have to give me a minute while I compose myself. Just a minute. I’ll be right back…

OK, here’s he deal. In 1997, I had my 10th high school reunion but since I was going through The Basic School in Quantico, Virginia at the time, I was unable to attend. So I did the next best thing; copied the email list and shot out a hello to all my former classmates. It was free and cheesy but all I could muster at the time.

I heard back from exactly two of them. One of them was my junior high school girlfriend who I often brag about in my blogs because she was a cheerleader and prior to her dumping me like a trailer full of toxic waste, actually acknowledged me as her boyfriend.

Since junior high, she grew up, got married, and had kids. Similarly, I got married and had kids. Grew up? Some would say “nunt-huh!

Since that initial contact in 1997, we have kept in touch and she frequently let’s me know how my blogs are doing and I get updates of her Family Circus.

But today was different.

Folks, I’m 36 years of age and I have to assume she’s around the same since we graduated high school together. Today she informs me that her daughter is making her mother a great-grandmother.

It didn’t quite sink in for a moment.

She’s going to be a grandmother.

Let me reiterate that: a girl the same age as me who I went to school with is going to be a FREAKIN’ GRANDMOTHER in July.

Ut-oh, I’m having a moment…. calm, Jason….. let it pass…

I don’t know how she feels about this and at this point, let me announce that this is all about me. See, only young people can be so self-centered so that proves it: this is an impossible set of events. No way, no how can an age-contemporary with ME be on the cusp of grandparenthood.

.. here it comes again…. Whoa, horsie!!!!....

But I run marathons. I still listen to top 40 music! I... I... I.....

But wait, I’m found a gray chest hair recently. Wait a minute, I…. I have a teenage son. What is this? A conspiracy?

Come to think of it, I've completed 18th grade and have two degrees. I retire in 2 years from a 20 year career in the Marine Corps. Holy Mother Of The Living God, I get irritated at the dozens of cars parked at my neighbor’s house every Friday night! Damn kids… AH! Did you hear that? That came out of me?

OH, I FEEL THE COLD, DEAD HAND OF THE REAPER AROUND MY LIVER-SPOTTED, WRINKLED NECK!!!

And don't give me that "It's not all that bad to realize you're getting old" crap! If you're saying that, you're already old. I'm not! I''m not I'm not I'm not....!!!!!

Thanks, Stephanie. I got to take my pills and finish the Reader’s Digest crossword puzzle before getting into my Hydropedic. It’s almost 9:00, after all. <wheeeze...>




Free Advice for Today:
"Throw a surprise birthday party for a friend."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003


Quote of the Day:

"Time is the best teacher; Unfortunately it kills all its students.”

- Unknown

Monday, April 18, 2005

Boston Express

Five minute miles! Five minutes!!!! OK, 5:01 average but come on!!!

This was the pace that won the Boston Marathon today. The final time, 2 hours, 11 minutes, 45 seconds.

Let’s put this in perspective, people. I’m not a world-class athlete by any means. Hell, not of ANY world. But here is how I stack up.

Yesterday I ran the same distance at 10:11 pace. That means this guy ran twice as fast as I did. TWICE AS FAST!

Hailu Negussie: Cyborg Runner
During my 800 meter (or is it yard. Oh screw it, ½ mile!) sprints, I can eek out a 2:45 if I want to drool for the rest of the day. That puts me at a 5:30 mile pace and there is no freakin’ way I could keep that up for an entire mile. So that means Boston Marathon Guy did BETTER than that for over 2 hours. 26 times!!!!! No, wait, I did 1/2 miles... 52 times!!! Who does he think he is?

OK, OK, let’s do it this way. We Marines have to run a 3 mile run for out Physical Fitness Test. To get the max points (100), we have to run it in 18 minutes which is three 6-minute miles in a row. For every 10 seconds we come in after the 18 minute mark, they deduct a point. Six points a minute. You get the idea.

Boston Marathon Guy would clock a 15:03. And not be winded. In fact, he could do it about 8 ½ times in a row.

I, on the other time, try to do it once and hover around 20 minutes on a good day.

This is just inhuman. Five minute miles. How does it feel to even run a 5 minute mile? It must be effortless at the beginning for him. How does that feel? It can’t feel like even one mile at that pace feels to me. I just can’t wrap my mind around this.

I can’t sprint as fast as this guy can marathon.

Five minutes!!! Dammit, it’s making me angry!!! How…. but…. five minutes…

Humbling. Very humbling. Mustn’t get angry. Resist the desire to… FIVE MINUTES, PEOPLE!!! FOR TWO FREAKIN’ HOURS!!!!

…breathe…

Well... I got TiVo and a new Honda Pilot. I gotta go (door slams…)




Free Advice for Today:
"Respect tradition."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003


Quote of the Day:

"We are born naked, wet, and hungry. Then things get worse.”

- Unknown

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Train Like You Race: Same Distance, Same Dimentia

OK, today was the big one. Ever since the last marathon, I’ve decided I should incorporate at least one marathon distance training run. Today was the day.

The first clue that it might not go well was a freeze warning shown on my computer weather watcher. That and the 32 degree temp. Yikes. But the high was supposed to get into the 70s so I knew it would warm up.

Yeah, it warmed up.

But getting to TBS, I could see my breath. I had brushed my teeth so I knew it wasn’t that, it was downright cold. But cold was good on the beginning of the run. The rule of thumb is you heat up 20 degrees when you run so if it had got up to 40 by then, I was going to be running at 60. Perfect.

Unlike last week, Sir Phil decided that 26.2 was just a bridge too far. Apparently 6.2 miles too far so I was going it alone. No support, no aid stations, no help except the body I had been working on. Talk about self-sufficient. Talk about stupidity!

I had “dialed in” the full 26.2 miles in my head so the beginning was a breeze. I clocked off the first mile effortlessly and was feeling good about the whole thing. My gear was even cooperating so that was a good sign. Sometimes, things want to ride up or the Camelback doesn’t want to get with the program. The headphone wires want to get tangled and pull the buds out of my ears. Any number of games the gear wants to play but today, they all kind of accepted this run was going to happen.

I was ahead of my pace for the out and back portion of the run which consisted of the first 17 miles in 2 hours and 48 minutes which I was happy to find out was a 9:16 average pace. I took my Gu every 5 miles and filled up my Camelback at the TBS barracks after using the facilities. Legs felt strong and temperature and wind were ideal. Everything was going fine.

After this 5 minute break, I stepped off to run again and I was a little disappointed to discover that my body had taken a vote and decided they weren’t playing nice with each other any more. I shambled along for about 3 minutes before I could get everyone to cooperate and then they grudgingly agreed to at least tolerate each other.

The second part of the run consisted of “The Loop” which takes me from the start/stop line, through TBS, around the fire station, past the rifle and pistol ranges, past the FBI Academy, past Lunga Reservoir, and back around to the finish line.

The Wall was helped along by the ½ mile uphill nightmare that finished at the fire station. Last year when I took this run, it was a lot hotter and I wasn’t in as good shape as now. I bonked and had to sit in the shade of the fire station for 10 minutes, drink water, and slam a Gu. Today, I triumphantly slogged past it with my head in the air.

But I was feeling it by now and it was starting to warm up. The last 6 miles would be a bastard and I knew it.

When I got near the 1.5 mile mark, I had to do some calculating. If I took a left, it took me to the finish line 1.5 miles away. So that means I’d have to hit it at about mile 25. But I was only at about 23.5 coming up to it and as much as I wanted to finish, I knew I had to turn right and make up the distance.

It’s easy now: 25 – 23.5 = 1.5. So .75 out and .75 back to the 1.5 mile mark will put me at 25 and then the last 1.5 will get me to the finish line ~26.5.

But with 23.5 miles behind me, my math abilities left a lot to be desired. I know how this sounds but trust me, these simple calculations are extremely difficult when you are road weary. And you know they are easy but your mind just won’t do it. Same with stuff like remembering who sang the song you are listening to. Normally, you know it as fast as your mouth can move but I found myself unable to recall such tidbits. It’s intriguing how your mind DOESN’T work when you get to such a state.

Knowing I was asking my mind the impossible, I just said, screw it, I’ll just run out a mile and back. If I do a little more than 26.2, then it’s just training, right?

I told you I had dementia.

The last ½ mile to the finish line is uphill. I didn’t design it that way, it’s just the way it goes with this course. As I approached this last monster hill (it qualifies as “monster” at this point), I kept an eye on my GPS. Through the haze, I realized I was going to reach the 26.2 mile point before I got to the finish line so I decided to see what my time was when I crossed that point and then to keep running until the finish line because I’m stupid like that.

Training, right?

I hit 26.2 at exactly 4 hours and 27 minutes. And I was actually worried that I wouldn’t remember due to my shredded state.

I didn’t exactly race up the hill in a blaze of glory but I didn’t slow down either. I just trudged along and tried not to analyze exactly why I was still running AFTER a marathon distance.

My final time was 4 hours and 33 minutes and the distance was 26.8 miles. So that means I covered ½ mile in 6 minutes which is a disgusting 12 minute per mile pace but uphill and at the end. So I held my head up high as I crossed the line for the 3rd time.

Finishing a marathon is always an emotional event but the only feeling I had afterwards was that I had run a marathon, stopped, and stopped my watch. No crowds, no medallion, and no congratulatory affirmations from strangers. No curious looks from those in the finish area whose face reads “How did you possibly do that?” just as clearly as if they spoke it aloud. Just me. And my time.

My final pace (thanks to an online calculator many hours after I finished) was 10:11 per mile.

Two mantras kept me going. The first was “Ragdoll.” I had read this recently as a tip to repeat to yourself as you run. It reminds you to stay loose like a ragdoll and every time I said it, I could feel my shoulders drop and my body loosen up.

The second one was one that I heard, or read, or picked up from somewhere. Maybe in a Badwater discussion. But it was an apt mantra and stopped me worrying about time when things got rough. The statement that held so much truth was “To Finish Is To Win.

And I finished. I won.

I was usually coherent after the run. I went home, showered, ate a turkey sandwich, and slept for 2 hours. When I got up, my body was tired but not sore. I even mowed the lawn (price per mow now down to $82.35).

I’m ready for the 2005 Wild Wild West. My goal: to beat my best time of 5:21:39 from 2003. That's 10:55 pace but through a lot of crazy terrain. Stay tuned.




Free Advice for Today:
"Don't encourage rude or inattentive service by tipping the standard amount."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003


Quote of the Day:

"Always remember you're unique, just like everyone else.”

- Unknown

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Virginia-ville Horror

The Amityville Horror. I can’t remember if I saw the movie or read the book first. But I do remember having the holy living daylights scared out of me as a kid. I think it was the book first and it was after my brother read the book so after his description, naturally, I had to partake in the fun.

I remember that each chapter had flies on the first page and as the book progressed, there were more and more flies. For some reason, that scared me. But what about this book DID’T scare me? Yes, I awoke at around 0315 every morning for a month with my head hidden under my pillow.

The original movie kept the theme going and I don’t think I was near darkness for a few months after that. Or home alone. I may or may not have withheld urine at night for years. I’m not confessing to anything, I’m just bringing up the possibility.

Over the years, they have come up with lame sequels which, although I’ve not invested money or time in many them, appear to be extremely bad. Who can forget Amityville 3-D? Apparently everyone. All I remember is seeing one where the Earth opens up, swallows the house and what’s left is a big open pit to Hell, literally. Ah, the sweet smell of exploitation based on initial success.

Tonight, I saw the 2005 version. There were a few scary parts but the most horrifying part was when two ladies came in right as the movie was starting, accompanied by their fiveish-year old little girl, and plopped their conversationalist asses right behind me.

A couple things were just wrong. Obviously, did they realize this was The Amityville Horror and not Spongebob? We’re talking future therapy up the yang for little miss bed-wetter until she’s 30.

I know this pales in comparison to scarring the poor child for all of eternity but she was one of those little girls who has no filter between her little brain and her big mouth. Yeah, I know, like all 5-year-olds. But in a movie theater, this constant barrage of questions made the entire movie unenjoyable by all.

I should have said something. But I chickened out. I really thought that after the first scary jump-out, the Clueless Duo would rush their little darling out of the theater.

Nope.

Not even the raunchy sex scene which culminated in the man seeing a decomposing little girl on a noose in the mirror did the trick.

I mean, what was I supposed to say? Is it illegal to bring a young child to a rated R movie? I don’t know. And it seemed that pointing out the glaringly obvious wasn’t going to help. “Excuse me but you do know this is the Amityville HORROR, right?” or the even more obvious “You two are idiots.” Where would that have got me?

I thought they’d get the clue after the first few horror scenes but I obviously underestimated the depth of their brain damage.

So there you have it. The Amityville Horror showing at the Virginia Land Of Imbeciles. And we wonder why we have kids lighting up their schools with automatic weapons.




Free Advice for Today:
"Be willing to lose a battle in order to win the war."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003


Quote of the Day:

"You have the capacity to learn from your mistakes; you will learn a lot today.”

- Unknown

Friday, April 15, 2005

Coming Home Across This Great Land, Confused

Catch-22. If you wake up later, everything takes longer because the mass of humanity is trying to do the same thing you are. If you wake up early, no one is around and everything goes infinitely faster.

So there should be a point somewhere along that continuum that is optimum, right? Logically speaking, yes. Mathematically speaking, absolutely. Life-of-Jason speaking, you will never be allowed to even come close to finding that sweet spot.

I opted for the early path so at 0415, I got up but really, that’s 0715 so I can’t complain too loud. OK, I can. DAMMIT!!!!

I got up, got ready, checked out of the hotel, loaded the car, filled it full of gas, got to Thrifty, turned in the car, got on the shuttle, checked in, got my ticket, and headed to the USO seeing that I had 2 hours before my flight. Impeccable timing Grose but you got the USO, right?

Opening time: 0800. DAMMIT!!!!

Backing up, let me make quick comments about the above list and I’ll let you match them up:

1. The alarm sounded like a foghorn strategically placed between my ears
2. The “Privacy Please” sign I put on the door yesterday but took off at about 1000 was obviously interpreted as “Don’t Service This Room At All Today Because I Feel Like Using Dirty Towels.”
3. The windows were so soaked with dew I could hardly see what I was doing
4. $2.65 per gallon. And not even flowers beforehand.
5. Thrifty is on a corner where there is no physical way to get into the lot without a 3 mile circling episode complete with numerous illegal U-Turns.
6. Said goodbye to the red Dodge Neon which I thought was pretty studly (the car, not the fact that I actually said goodbye).
7. Loaded my bags on the shuttle but had to go to the bathroom so I experienced irrational fears that he would drive off with my luggage.
8. “American Airline counter? Oh, that’s on the other side of the airport. Have a nice day, NEXT!!!”
9. Bastards tried to sit me in the row in front of the emergency exit which, if you’re a seasoned traveler, you know that translates into “This seat don’t recline. Have a nice day. NEXT!”

The flight was OK but I dreaded the second leg because of the whole “careening to Earth in a massive ball of terror and flame” thing. I was seated next to an elderly gentlemen who, as seatmates go, wasn’t too bad. He sat quietly and read his book but tended to take up most of the armrest we shared. And fidgeted a lot so I had to cold-cock him with my elbow. I’m such a socialite, I know.

As though a 2 ½ hour layover wasn’t long enough, they decided I needed another hour. This was decided, of course, after I was at the gate and the one beer I had (instead of my recommended “two or nineteen” for Terror Flight 100), was completely worn off by the time we boarded.

The flight wasn’t as bad as the one a few days ago but there were a few moments that I took inventory of my life up to this point. But I didn’t cry so that’s good.

All I had to do was get in I-95 via I-295. Simple, right?

That’s what I kept telling myself and went over and over this like a mantra. I was tired and didn’t want to screw this up, not because I didn’t think I could get back on track but because I knew it would make me pissed off all to Hell if it came to that. That’s just me.

So I’m coming up to a sign that said “I-295 North to Washington.”

Seems pretty self-explanatory, doesn’t it? Well, I had it stuck in my head that I was wanting to go south. Why? Why do you ask such stupid questions? I don’t know. If I was smart enough to know the answer, the question would never had been asked in the first place.

So I FREAK OUT and fumble for the phone. This level of idiocy cannot be kept under wraps. I have to prove to my wife what a moron she married.

“Hey, there’s a sign that says “I-295 North to Washington.” Aren’t I supposed…”

Just then, realization hit me. Mid-sentence.

Remember how I described how I get pissed off if I got turned around just for the sake of being turned around? Well, the next layer was that I was now pissed because I was all freaked out about going the wrong way. I had tried so hard to make the airport-to-highway transition without confusion.

“But Jason, you went the right way. Doesn’t that mean something?”

Again, with the stupid questions.




Free Advice for Today:
"Attend your children's athletic contests, plays, and recitals."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003


Quote of the Day:

"A thing not worth doing isn't worth doing well.”

- Unknown

Thursday, April 14, 2005

MCRD San Diego Yet Again

I was a slug. I admit it. I slept until 0700 which doesn’t sound all that sluggish until you consider that I was still on Eastern Time so in essence, I slept until 1000. I present to you, Sluggo.

I knew I had to run. I gaffed off the sprints yesterday (close your mouth, it’s not THAT surprising. Really, it isn’t) so I knew I had to get some miles in today. I got on my running gear and set out to follow the sad, hefty, obviously forced Navy runners who looked like death was near.

I was staying at Point Loma so I had limited opportunities of courses, so I thought. Later I learned what I suspected all the time: I was nearby hundreds of miles of good running trails. But if you don’t where to look and are too anti-social to ask, you end up running on the main road to the front gate and back twice.

After getting cleaned up, I went to earn my pay and talk to the MCRD users of my system and basically take face shots for the sins of my program. It wasn’t too bad and I spent a few hours milling around talking to different people and them telling me why my system sucks. Such is the life when you come to do a site visit.

Around the base, there were hundreds of families since tomorrow is graduation. The families get to come on base and visit their recruit for a few hours and what that means to everyone else is that there are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people milling around the base looking totally lost and clogging up every roadway, store, and service on the base. Not their fault and I remember what it meant to me when I was a recruit but when you encounter this from a permanent personal perspective, it becomes a weekly dreaded event. Not that I’m permanent personnel but I always seem to be there when this happens.

All it meant to me was that I was on display because the recruit would salute and I would be the participant in every recruit’s first exhibition to their families about how they’ve been trained to greet officers. They salute, render the proper greeting too loud (and usually say “GOOD AFTERNOON, SIR!” in the morning and “GOOD MORNING, SIR” in the afternoon), then I salute and return the CORRECT greeting, and the families gawk at me like I’m some peacock.

I was to meet Sir Bashman at the bowling alley where they were having their “team-building” event. I must explain that this was a collection of all the Commanding Officers from the Western Recruiting Region which means they are the guys in the middle: they get pressure from the Colonels and Generals to make mission each month and they depend on the enlisted instructors to get these recruits to sign the dotted line.

In other words, this was a collection of very highly stressed men, some for the last 3 years. The most time they get off in that time is Christmas where they get two full days at home. Most of them are lucky to get some time on Sunday to see their families and while you could be a hero for months in a row, the minute you miss mission, bad things happen. The pressure is enormous.

This bowling “team-building” event was a sight to see. All these highly stressed men forced to have a good time resulted in my realization that it’s virtually impossible for them to make the switch. They couldn’t relax. One guy had a phone in his ear while he walked up uninterestedly and threw the ball, turning around without even noticing if it even made it to the end of the lane.

When a cell phone would ring, you had 50 guys reacting with cat-like reflexes to see if it was theirs. They were mid-month and a mandatory 3-day conference meant that their mission was in serious jeopardy. I knew not to even ask if this was taken into account. Nothing is taken into account. There is mission. Period. You make it or you don’t and if you don’t…. the thought makes grown men convulse with fear.

I had a mission of my own. Last time I came to this base, I visited my old bootcamp barracks and wrote a blog about saluting ghosts. The one thing I didn’t get that I really wanted was pictures so I wanted to make sure I didn’t leave there with regret again.

The barracks was empty again, obviously cleaned up after a recent graduation. The squadbay across the hall was occupied and once again, I felt nervous being in there uninvited, unattended, and snapping photos. As a Captain, I would never be challenged but that didn’t stop me from wincing every time I heard someone. No one actually came in but I was nervous as a cat the entire time.

But I got a lot of the pictures I always wanted to get. I’ll be posting them soon with explanations of why I took them.

I will not rehash the emotions that ran through me because I described it in that other blog entry. But I felt a lot more at ease with my past and what that room represented to me. I saw my reflection in the mirror and once again saw a Captain and not a recruit. I had a “Count of Monte Cristo” flash as I stood there but the overriding feeling was being at peace with this difficult period in my life.

It wasn’t in my food plan but if I would have left San Diego without eating a taco pizza, I would have endless regrets and even nightmares. I just had to. Judge if you want but I went and had a small pizza, devouring all but one piece despite the fact that they put the onions on it that I specifically told them to leave off. But it was taco pizza and all was good.

I planned to take the last piece to Sir Bashman but he never called. He had a mandatory dinner with his boss and said if he got back early enough, he’d call and we could sit in his room, drink beer or wine, and shoot the bull, just like last night. But he never called and I packed up for the trip home tomorrow, hitting the rack early. We thought this might happen so we said our goodbyes at the bowling alley, just in case. It was good to see him again and he promised he’d get back into this marathon thing with me once he was done with recruiting.

Which only seems right since he got me into this thing in the first place.




Free Advice for Today:
"Be bold and courageous. When you look back on your life, you'll regret the things you didn't do more than the ones you did."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003


Quote of the Day:

"SUPPORT BACTERIA - THEY'RE THE ONLY CULTURE SOME PEOPLE HAVE.”

- Unknown

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

We Meet Again

This morning I had a presentation to give to the conference but my portion was a rather small portion of the Marine Corps Recruiting Command’s (MCRC) presentation.

Picture if you will, a large collection of Majors and Lieutenant Colonels who, being in the middle of a dark period for Marine Recruiting in general, are brought together for a conference which takes them away from their struggling efforts around the country. Then you put two representatives (a Chief Warrant Officer and a Major) from the headquarters in Washington D.C. in front of them to show them what’s on the horizon, technology-wise, to help the recruiters. Instead, the crowd saw them as headquarters’ representatives and more than a little frustration peeked through in the form of very pointed questions about the state of affairs in the field and the support from above.

As the Chief Warrant Officer fielded these questions, I was in the wings waiting for my turn to speak and a bit dismayed at the latest mood shift from the crowd. Although I was from a totally different command from the MCRC guys, I was afraid that I would be so closely associated with them that I would inherit the understated animosity that seemed to be growing in the crowd.

But I had an advantage. I had a deliverable which represented the only tangible product ready for use. We worked through MCRC HQ and that was why I was there with them but I felt confident that since I had a golden egg to show them, I would be allowed to live.

At one particularly contrary exchange, one of the Majors from the crowd stated that we could show them all the dog-faced boys and bearded ladies we wanted but what they really needed was basic tools right now and not whiz-bang gadgets for the distant future.

With that, I was introduced.

The CWO had been out there a long time and I wondered if my 15 minutes were going to be shortened along with the attention span and patience of the audience. Did they need a break? Did they have to go to the bathroom? Did I have a chance in Hell of getting a fair shake with these Marine Officers?

During the CWO’s portion, I had time to come up with a completely new attention-getter. The CWO had used a TDG (Tactical Decision Game) where he described a battle situation and asked people to write down how they solved it. that gave me an idea and here is what I came up with:

Well, I don’t know if I’m the dog-faced boy or the bearded lady in this situation but I do have something deliverable to you right now. Good morning, Gentlemen, my name is Captain Jason Grose and I’m from TECOM, Formal Schools specifically, and I’m here to brief you about the TIMS system.

This will only take 10 or 15 minutes but before I start, I’d like to follow he Chief Warrant Officer’s lead and throw out a little TDG. This won’t take but about two minutes and you don’t have to write anything down.

You are a dumbass Lieutenant going to The Basic School. It’s Saturday morning and you are leaning against the outside of the barracks in civies, waiting for a buddy who at the moment is getting his ass royally chewed to the bone by his SPC. While you feel for your fellow dumbass Lieutenant, you just want the Captain to finish his bloodbath so you and your buddy can go out to Georgetown. The ass-chewing is epic and the SPC is really giving it to his dumbass Lieutenants. Blood is splattering everywhere and this SPC is performing his duties as only this particular SPC can.

After the bloodletting, the SPC turns around and storms off but is coming towards your direction, wild-eyed, hair on fire, and tail in full puff. As a good little Lieutenant, you don’t salute (civies, remember?) but render the proper greeting ("Good morning, Sir"). But as a dumbass Lieutenant, you continue to lean against the building with your arms folded as he passes.

The Captain, fresh from the kill, turns on you and commences to rip several new assholes located at various points on your body, centered mainly on the fact of what he believes is not a proper greeting to a superior commissioned officer, and lets you know this.

OK, now what do you do? Most of you would say just take the ass chewing, learn from your obvious mistake, and march on.

But I submit to you an alternate course of action. What if you were to never forget that Captain and march through your career knowing that some day, somewhere, you would run into him again. Maybe you are invited to speak at the Western Recruiting Region Commanders’ Conference many years later. And say you bide your time after all those years to be in a position to put this Captain who has since become a Major on the spot in front of his peers?

With that said, Major McDonough, can you tell me what TIMS stands for?

“I have no idea.”

Well, Sir, it’s right up there on the screen, all you have to do is read what it says.

When I turned to him and called his name, he turned was standing along the side and with a smile said “DAMMIT, I KNEW IT!!!” as he snapped his fingers across his body and jerked his head sideways. At this point everyone was laughing.

I then said, “Major, I’ve been waiting 7 years for this moment and I want you to know that despite your predictions, I have not wrecked the Marine Corps and have not embarrassed the Officer Corps…”

At this point, just as I expected, I was interrupted by just about every conference attendee who yelled “YET!!!!” followed by uproariously laughter. While the laughing continued, I added "... but I still have 2 1/2 years to make it happen."

Thus began my presentation.

After I was finished, I walked right over to the Major and was met with an extended hand and a big smile.

At first, I was just going to introduce myself and then turn to Major McDonough and explain to him he was an SPC in my TBS company and assure him I had not wrecked the Marine Corps. But with the extra time, I got the idea of following the CWO’s lead and incorporating the past and the present into one satisfying introduction.

Later, I got a chance to talk to the Major and learned that he was a very nice man, despite his reputation at TBS. Back then, he was much more muscular but his schedule had kept him away from the gym. The effect was that he had lost size and was downright skinny. I completely screwed up the topic when I told him that he had lost size and it almost sounded like an insult. But in fact, as a runner, I associate skinny with good running so contrary to my comment, I was impressed if not a bit envious of his appearance. If you can’t get to the gym and all that happens is that you stay slim, well, there are worse things such as what I tend to suffer: oozing nastiness resembling mashed potatoes in a pillowcase.

The Major has a wife, 4 kids, and is just starting his stint as the San Diego area Recruiting Station CO. We had a good talk and I explained to him all of the crazy stories me and a fellow lieutenant (Leon who was actually in his section) used to make up with his intense persona filling the main character role.

His comment: “I’m glad I could provide such entertainment for you guys.” And even though he said it with a smile, the Boston accented voice was a blast from the past.

Once again, I had confronted and befriended a one-time tormentor. The lesson that I learn every time is that I can now stand toe to toe with these people (impossible at the time) and that they are normally high-quality people filling their role at the time. I guess I was too but it’s cleansing to make peace and I seem to have had more opportunities than most to accomplish this. I’m thankful that I'm running out of tormentors.

Here is one of the best stories about this particular SPC. Just read the first part, it's worth the investment.




Free Advice for Today:
"When facing a difficult task, act as though it is impossible to fail. If you're going after Moby Dick, take along the tartar sauce."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003


Quote of the Day:

"I LOVE DEFENSELESS ANIMALS, ESPECIALLY IN A GOOD GRAVY.”

- Unknown

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Terror Flight To Paradise

I’m not too proud to admit it. I was scared. And I mean "yelp like a little girl" scared which, being a Marine, kind of, well you know, sucks.

Why did I have this public display of unmasked fear? Simple. It started when the Captain announced “Looks like we’re going to have a bumpy ride.”

It never got better than that.

Factor in the plane I was on. I’m practically retarded when it comes to knowing the official designations for different airplanes so I’ll go with the tried and true: one seat on the left, two seats on the right, have to duck to walk down the aisle. In other words, the Speedo of commercial airlines.

In my favor I had a lot of room to be scared out of my mind. The plane was about 1/3 full so I abandoned my single left-hand seat for the opulent room of an empty two-seater on the right side. Seems I would need the room to house all the terror I was to manifest.

The plane took off and I said to myself, “Self, stay calm, no matter what happens. Yes, I heard the Captain but how many times per day does this flight take off and how often do you hear of it crashing? They did it yesterday, no crash. They will do it tomorrow, no crash. This has been going on for awhile so what are the….

(the plane drops what seems like 100 feet)

“Son of a BITCH!!!!!”

“Beer. I gotta have beer."

That was the overriding thought.

"Beer would solve everything. I don’t get airsick so the soothing, numbing effects of a nice cold one, or screw it, bad warm one, whatever, just give me some meds because we are going down in flames in the motherf…. Get ahold of yourself, Grose, here comes the stewardess.”

The only stewardess looked calm. How could she look so calm when it was obvious that we were one dip away from becoming national news? It had a calming effect but I expertly ascertained that she must be on Valium. There’s no other explanation. But it did have a calming effect, just like the guy reading the paper and the guy getting a few winks. Maybe it’s just me, I’m over-reacting, just being sill…..HOLY MOTHER OF ALL THAT IS GOOD IN THIS WORLD WE’RE AUGERING INTO OBLIVIAN!!

"Calm down Grose, it will pass."

At one point I reached up to grab the seat in front of me an instead, brushed the head of the passenger in front of me. I believe that, up to this point, I had successfully kept my squealings under the hearing threshold of those around me but this obvious grasp for survival betrayed my obvious panic.

I tried to read and would get only so far before the roller coaster started again. I rarely actually sweat when I’m not exercising but the knowledge of beads of sweat starting to roll down my forehead penetrated the fog of pure terror. I cannot remember the last time, if ever, I have experienced actual beads of sweat as a result of fear before. Never. My shaking hand turned on the air vent right on top of my head.

I found that if I put both my feet on the ground, hands on my legs, sat up straight, closed my eyes, and talked quietly to myself, I could almost control the fear. I could ride the dips and the banks, the shudders and the jarrings. The bumps, the slides, the vibrations and the shimmies. But this would only last for a few moments and the fear was back.

When the cart of relief finally got to me, I asked how much the beer cost. It didn’t really matter because I was desperate. Name your price, Stewardess Calm-While Death-Is-Near. Just give me a sedative.

This thought was dependent on its sister thought of unknown origin that it would be $2. I would pay that for sweet relief and it would be a bargain at that.

The real answer came: $5.

Five dollars? For a can of Miller Light. Are you f%$% nuts? …. Said someone inside I didn’t recognize.

Somehow, being caught off guard, my tight-assedness took over and I waved her on. Like I was watching from afar and yelling inside “NOOOOO, you dumb bastard! Pay the five spot you freakin’ imbecile!!!!”

But it was not to be. I was left with the realization of how deep the current of cheapskateasity existed in me and I was shocked, knowing the depth of fear I was experiencing. It was a sad moment in the life of Jason, the magnifying glass being turned on myself.

So now I was to ride out this express train to Hell without the aid of alcohol. And it just kept getting worse. I counted the minutes and wondered which of my pictures they’d use on the news channels. I couldn’t help but imagine what a full barrel roll would feel like and the terror involved in a flat spin on a full on nosedive. I couldn’t help it, these thoughts just jumped in my head and it didn’t help when “World On Fire” by by beloved Sarah McLachlan started in my headphones. Not now, Sarah, for the love of God, not now.

“Sorry for the bumpy ride, folks but we’re being told it’s the same way all up and down the Mississippi so there was no way around it. We’ll be landing shortly and thanks for flying American Airlines.”

As he announced this, the plane took a vicious dip.

What he should have said was:

"Sorry for making you shit your underwear, Jason, but that's how me and co-pilot Beelzebub get our kicks. We'll be searching out the most vicious air pockets for ya so sit back and get ready for some really nasty aerial acrobatics in this small, heavy metal tube flying at a couple of thousand feet above the hard, unforgiving ground. And thanks for paying us all the money for this."

Never again out of Richmond. Never again.

When I got off the plane, it was to find the nearest bar. Beer, I must have beer. No way I can handle the rest of this day without sedatives. And here is how I ordered it:

“I need a beer the exact same size of the suck-factor of the flight I just took.”

The rest of the flight was uneventful and I ended up in San Diego, but not before seeing a sheet of snow across the Midwest, the majesty of the Grande Canyon, and the open desert of 29 Palms which we flew right over. Landing in sunny San Diego, the entire city was bathed in golden sunlight and enjoying the 70 degree weather with a cool sea breeze.

I got my car, drove to Point Loma Submarine Base, and checked into my hotel. I was unprepared for what greeted me as I entered the room. When I got out of my car and walked toward the hotel, I heard the sound of the ocean and realized I was RIGHT on the water.

Walking into my room, I was met with an incredible sight: the open ocean in perfect frame out the back window. I was on the second floor so I had a higher view than normal and I couldn’t believe I was so lucky as to have this room. It even had a balcony where I stood and took in the expanse of ocean and rolling waves.

It almost made up for the plane ride. ALMOST!




Free Advice for Today:
"Never buy something you don't need just because it's on sale."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003


Quote of the Day:

"Seen it all. Done it all. Can't remember most of it.”

- Unknown

Sunday, April 10, 2005

20 Miles Before Beer Is A Helluva Carrot

The deal was that I pick up Sir Phil at about 0615 which, when you add in the fox oscaring time, would put us at the back gate of TBS at about 0700, when it actually opens.

I miscalculated a couple of things. First, that there would be ANY fox oscaring time because Sir Phil is the King of the Timepiece and when he says we’ll leave about 0615, he means it.

Second, Sunday morning traffic at this hour is non-existent which is the ONLY time in this over-congested hell hole that is Northern Virginia when you spend less time stationary than moving when you are within an automobile. So all I gotta do is get all my work done on a Sunday morning and I can bypass the daily scotal spike of traffic. Easy.

The end result of making good time was that we pulled up to the gate about 12 minutes before they opened.

Normally, the fact that the MPs were just on the other side of the locked gate waiting for the magical seconds hand to cross the 12 mark of 0700 would really bother me but I was sitting in a warm car on the lip of a 20 mile run. So I was not too nonplussed.

But there were others that were plussed at this turn of events. By my watch, it was about 6 minutes past the hour and again, for me it was no problem. Hell, to me it was the differences between watches. But one of the cars behind us opened and a rather irritated looking guy in civies walked up past us and toward the gate.

He arrived at the gate just as the MPs were getting out of their car to open the gate and the first indication that this was not going to go well was when the MP snapped to and rendered a salute, telling us he was talking to an officer. I was not privy to the conversation but Sir Phil and I determined it was not a happy good morning type of exchange, especially when the officer started pointing at the MP’s face with an open hand, ala a Drill Instructor.

It occurred to me that you would never see this anywhere else. When could a cop get an ass chewing by Joe Citizen for being a few minutes late opening a gate? Where, by virtue of rank, would put the law enforcement representative at a disadvantage like this?

He was probably not too happy about the late opening but again, I considered it a bit of an asshole move because it could be the difference in watches. Sir Phil tended to disagree with me because he noted that they were three minutes late and 0700 means 0700. I asked him how he could possibly know that his watch time is superior than that of the MPs. He told me he syncs it every day with the official atomic clock and all on duty watchstanders should do the same for flag-raising duties. Official time is official time.

OK.

The run went great (I kept the time) and we clocked about 10 minute miles again. It was a bit cold that early but I knew that it would be a misty dream soon so I did not complain. It was Sir Phil's first visit back to TBS in 18 years. It had been a week for me.

Sir Phil is a freak. He really doesn’t have to train and he can decide to participate in a 20 mile run on a whim and do just fine. He humored me by stopping at the 9 minutes marks and walked with me for the full minute. I train myself silly and still have to adhere to this little game and can’t seem find the ability nor the desire to get any faster. But as long as I keep the distance going, the pace will be fine. For Sir Phil, a walk in the park.

We had a few of those serene moments way out in the middle of the woods (stop thinking dirty thoughts, pervs!). The morning air was cool, the dew was on the grass and the sun sparkled off if it in a brilliant display of spring beauty. We saw deer watch us curiously as we ran down the road through dense woods. We saw Dragon's Breath (ground fog over sunlit fields of green). We talked (OK, I talked) most of the time and by the time we got toward the end, it really didn’t seem we had been running for 3 ½ hours. Only the last ½ mile was a bit of an attention-getter because of the increasing heat and the fatigue but even then, it wasn’t much of a struggle. And I only ate a Gu at the beginning, at mile 6, and at the half way point. I was too busy talking.

We got done, drove home, and Sir Phil invited me in for our ceremonious beer. This started back in 29 Palms when we would run through the desert on Sunday mornings and return right as the heat was nearing triple digits. We would crack a well-deserved beer, but only one.

I learned back then that when your system is shredded up, the alcohol from one beer hits you like a hammer. But it soothes all the aches for about 15 minutes and because your body is still in overdrive from the run, it processes out the alcohol really quickly. In a half hour, you can’t tell you ever drank it. It gets in, hits hard, and gets out.

But I’ve also learned that there is a brutal mistake that I made once and only once. NEVER, and I mean NEVER EVER grab a second beer. Slam water or sports drink but for the love of God, do not be temped by the good feeling that first beer gave you and decide to have another. Your body is very unforgiving in this situation and just as it was welcoming and quick-processing with the first beer, it is rejectful and slow to expel the alcohol from the second beer. This happened once at Sir Phil’s house in 29 Palms and I was a blithering idiot for the rest of the day. Lesson learned, Beer Gods, lesson learned.

After I got home, I ate the turkey sandwich Carrie made for me before she and the kids left to Washington D.C. to see the cherry blossoms. In snake-like fashion, I unhinged my jaw and swallowed the sandwich whole. Although I was feeling oddly good for just completing a 20 miler, I was ready for a hot shower and after a few minutes of reading, collapsed in bed at exactly 1:40 PM.

Mere seconds later it was exactly 3:45 PM.

I got up and was more groggy than sore. I don’t know why this is. I’m not asking for it but I SHOULD be sore. Really sore.

That was my day, folks. Next week I’m going for the 26 miler, a 12-15 miler the week after that, and after that is my weekend in Lejeune so either I take that weekend off or I just go for a light jog. The week after that is the marathon so this last spike followed by a tapering off period seems like the way to go.

I don’t think I can get Sir Phil to do the 26 miler next week. He thinks all this distance training is destructive. But to me, so are 6 hour marathons and my freakness does not manifest itself as good races from bad training.




Free Advice for Today:
"Never drive while holding a cup of hot coffee between your knees."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003


Quote of the Day:

"HAM AND EGGS - A day's work for a chicken; A lifetime commitment for a pig.”

- Unknown

Saturday, April 9, 2005

Food, Mowing, Soccer, Pizza, Popcorn

Another free-for-all food day but it’s getting better.

We had conflicting logistics problems today which left a confusing set of negotiations to occur. I didn’t want to have my all-you-can-cram-down-the-piehole day on my long run day, simply because I’d miss out on a good hearty breakfast and spend valuable gorge time recovering from the 20 miler I had slated this weekend.

Carrie was going to be gone all day so she didn’t want the free day today. She wanted me to get the run out of the way today, while she was gone, so all arguments pointed to running today and eating tomorrow.

Then Sir Phil had to go and eff up the whole deal. He’s getting a hot tub put in and he had to wait around all day and wait for the workers to show up. I could have gone without him (he regretted agreeing to go with me anyway because he has not been training for the marathon next month, but he’s a freak and doesn’t really have to) but for a 20 miler, I could really use the company.

The end result was that the kids and I had the free day and Carrie would have hers tomorrow when I had my run. Yes, I got to push off the run until Sunday. YES!!! And I get to gorge today! How can this be a bad plan?

We wanted the Full Monty for breakfast. The menu item requests just built up until we had this on the list:

Scrambled eggs
Bacon
Hash browns
Pancakes
Toast
Orange juice

Now understand, I could take care of the toast. The eggs, I’ve been known to accomplish that too. The pancakes… well, Bisquick, right? The boy could take care of the bacon. Orange juice is a no-brainer. Hash brown, frozen, baby.

The problem was timing. I could make, more or less, all these items but the true talent in all this was Carrie’s innate sense of getting everything to the table hot. My talent, on the other hand, is not pissing on the closed toilet seat and frankly, my talent is sometimes found lacking even there.

Carrie had to leave early but because she just can’t stand it, she jumped in and prepped most of the items and rattled off a list of instructions that likely rival the Space Shuttle final launch check list. I stood there with bed-head, crunchies in the corner of my eyes, holding a cup of coffee wondering if she really expected me to remember this uber-list when I count having brushed teeth as the height of the morning’s accomplishments.

When she left, it was up to me and I leapt into action.

The eggs got cold but not as cold as the iceberg, just-short-of-burnt pancakes. The overcooked hashbrowns were a bit chilled by the time I sank my teeth in them. There was a full batch of bacon that went untouched. The butter didn’t even melt on the one piece of toast I made.

The orange juice ROCKED!

So that was fun.

After cleaning up, I got this weird motivation to mow the lawn. Be like me and don’t ask. When the mood strikes, strike back.

I spent the next couple of hours on the riding lawn mover which brings my amortized cost-per-mow down to a mere $87.50. Stay tuned as the mowing season continues.

Then it was time for lunch and I gave the kids a choice. Their choice. Yeah, Burger King. As because I would rather eat my foot (post-marathon) than BK, I opted for Wendy’s. Here is how the conversation at the drive through went:

“Can I take your order.”
“I’d like two hamburgers. What do you put on that?”
“Mayo, mustard, and pickles.”
“No lettuce or tomato?”
“No.”

Long pause while I put my desire to kill in check.

“Can you PUT lettuce and tomato on it?”
“I can give you a junior cheeseburger without cheese. It has all that.”
“Does it have mayo and onions?”
“Yes.”
“Please leave off the mayo and onions.”

I’ve been eating Wendy’s since I was a kid and I’ve NEVER heard of the base ingredients like those for a basic burger. I ask them to rattle it off every time just so they are clear on what we’re working with and in my warped sense of reality, makes it easier for them to grasp the concept of leaving off the onion and mayo, adding catsup. But I had never been offered junior burgers to replace the basic burger on the basis of condiments. I was rattled and confused. I believe I cried a little.

I was also sure they would bone me on the order. So I didn’t leave until I checked them and while they got the ingredients right. I noticed the burgers were smaller than the ones I’m used to. I didn’t want to fight this battle any longer so I drove off, convincing myself that I usually feel sick if I eat two regulars but eating just one leaves me wanting.

Fries were cold. Bastards!

But I ate it and all was good.

Carrie got home and I scored major points for mowing the front and the back lawns and cleaning up the kitchen to sparkling perfection. We even ran the dishwater, emptied it, and loaded up a second batch. I was a hero!

We then all loaded up the Pilot and went to Alex’s first soccer game. They lost but my boy scored one of the two goals for his team. It was a perfectly arced pass in front of the goal right into my boy’s wheelhouse and he kicked it in for the goal. It was the only shining moment in a rather dull game. Here is a conversation I had with Carrie when we noted the boy’s general lack of competitiveness:

Carrie: “I think I’ve given up on hoping Alex’s sports will improve. He doesn’t even want to play next year.”
Me (joking): “He gets that from you.”
Carrie (laughing): “Yeah, right. I’m not competitive. He gets all that from YOU!”
Me: “Carrie, I’m a Marine. I’m a marathoner and an ultra-runner. You are saying he gets his non-athleticism from me? That’s what you’re saying?”

She went on to point out that she didn’t question the athleticism, just the competitiveness and although I continued to protest, I knew she was right. I was not and am still not a competitive person and was a wallflower sports player as a kid, when I did sports, just like my boy.

Afterwards we had a pizza party. The coach called it in order to promote team unity and cohesion. Good in theory but we at the pizza joint, all the tables sat 4 people and were lined up along a wall. So each family ate at a table and there was very little intermixing. So it was really just all of us eating at the same place but without mingling.

By the way, CiCi’s pizza sucks. The taco pizza left me unimpressed and it wasn’t just because they put real hot sauce on it, insulting my virgin infantile tastebuds. It just all-around bit ass.

And I finally had my popcorn. Yeah, it was 11:30 PM but dammit, I wasn’t going one more week without popcorn.

Another gorge day down. Breakfast feast, Wendy’s, pizza, and popcorn. Will it carry me another week? Don’t have to, I’ll be having the next one early. Thursday in San Diego is the designated time and place. Beware Southern California, particular Godfather’s. I’m coming and I’ll be hungry.




Free Advice for Today:
"Remember this statement by Coach Lou holtz" 'Life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it'."
- 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 have a solution; but I do admire the problem.”

- Unknown

Friday, April 8, 2005

Another Hero Returns Safe

Busy, busy, busy, busy day. From the time I got in until I stumbled out of the office just in time to hit Friday afternoon traffic on I-95, I was moving. OK, maybe only mentally most of the time but still, there was no wall-staring this day.

I filled out all of my paperwork for the trips I talked about yesterday, made phonecalls, reservations, and attended meetings. But the big news was waiting for me as I opened up my email at 0745.

I got an email from fellow Horseman and all around dear friend who just got back from Iraq after 13 months. In Fallujah!

In classic style, here is the sum total of his email to me after 13 months in combat:

SUBJ: Back on the net

Hey,

I'm back. What's up?

I've got your 4-leaf clover thingy.

Thanks

Brent

Semper Fidelis

Brent R. Norquist
Major, USMC
Logistics Officer, 7th Marine Regiment
"Ripper-4"

The “4-leaf clover thingy” was a laminated 4 leaf clover sent to me from an “Any Service Member” pen pal when I was in the first Gulf War. It got me home so I sent it to Brent on the condition that he give it back to me in person over beer. Looks like he will fulfill that requirement next month when he meets us in Vegas the day before the Wild Wild West Marathon.

I tried to goad him into running the marathon but many months in battle zone had somehow deteriorated his ability to run 26.2 miles through trails. What a wimp!

I was so excited to get this email that I called his office right away but since he’s in 29 Palms California, it was about 0500. I called a bit later and was happy to get in touch with him.

The bad news is that he’s not being stationed in Quantico like we had hoped. The good news is that they ARE going to Lejeune so at least him and his family will be about 5 hours away. Close enough to see them a few times a year. Maybe even once again "roll the felt" which means breaking out the poker table if I can get Sir Phil to make the trip.

I asked him what was the most different thing about him after being over there for so long. He told me that it was that he gets frustrated a lot easier. I had assumed he would get LESS frustrated because when you have had people trying to kill you every day, running out of staples just wouldn’t seem all that important.

But what he meant was that he gets frustrated at what other people perceive as important now. BECAUSE he had people trying to kill him every day, he can’t get very empathetic when someone is freaking out about late reports. Thus, higher frustration. Makes sense.

Although he will not running with us, he agreed to meet us in Vegas (big sacrifice, stud) and drive through Death Valley and into Lone Pine. He would be our logistics (which only seems proper since he IS a Logistics Officer) before and after the race. There’s not much opportunity to hook up along the course since it goes through wilderness somewhere around what most people refer to as “Bumf%^.

He will then drive us back to Vegas and get us a comped room (he’s a borderline dangerous gambler) after the race where we can attempt to walk around Vegas after a 6-hour marathon and a 5-hour drive. Should be a sight but at least three of the four Horsemen will be together once again.

The last Horseman is having battles of his own on recruiting duty. If you haven’t heard, the Marine Corps is doing worse in recruiting that it ever has in its long history. The recruiting commands are getting the heat so we don’t expect Gary to be anywhere near. We’re even afraid to call him for fear he might try to talk us into resigning and re-upping to meet mission. Or he might start asking how old my children are. Times are tough when you’re a recruiter these days.

Welcome home Brent.




Free Advice for Today:
"Ask an older person you respect to tell you his or her proudest moment and greatest regret."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003


Quote of the Day:

"Heck is where people go who don't believe in Gosh.”

- Unknown

Thursday, April 7, 2005

Here I Go, On The Go, Again

When it rains it pours. I’m homebased for months and then suddenly, I get a flurry of trips that almost by heavenly mandate, are required to butt up against each other.

Today, I found out that I will be going to San Diego next week. I had a meeting where we showed the Marine Corps Recruiting Command what our computer system could do for them and they mentioned they were presenting at the Western Recruiting Region’s Commanders’ Conference next week.

Bright idea: what if we sent a rep to San Diego. In April. To present, of course. Why are you looking at me like that?

It was all good until they told me their travel plans: catch a red-eye on Tuesday, get in late Tuesday night, present Wednesday, catch a red-eye home, arrive on Thursday morning after flying all night.

I’m gonna to go with “Not a freakin’ chance in 10 Hells.”

It just so happens that the Recruit Depot just transitioned over to our system so the second bright idea of the day was to show my face their and provide live support. It’s in the general gameplan anyway and I could spend a day on the depot fielding questions and getting pummeled for the sins of our system.

Just because it would give me an extra day in San Diego and relinquish me from the red-eye travel plans from Hell is completely beside the point.

Again with the look. What?

Then I get a visit from a fellow Captain who wants me to go to Missouri during the last week in the month for an inspection. OK, they call it the less-ominous-sounding “Assist Visit” but let’s face facts, it’s an inspection.

They are picking up the dime and the time frame is open so I agreed. I’ve never been to Fort Leonardwood so why not? They don't hunt Marines in Missouri, do they? Because I don't want to suddenly discover that I do indeed have a pretty mouth.

I had to make my own arrangements and for the first time ever, the travel agency we use offered me a choice between flying out of Reagan (the airport, not the corpse) and flying out of Richmond. I live in Fredericksburg so going out of Reagan (stop it!) involves a few hours of driving and battling the D.C. traffic, which you all know I adore. Flying out of Richmond is a breezy 45 minute drive opposite of traffic.

This also solved another problem. I get back on Friday and we had planned on driving down to Lejeune for a retirement ceremony for a good friend. I was looking at flying cross-country, getting in on a Friday night, battling the worst traffic of the week in the worst place on the eastern seaboard, picking up the family, and driving for 5 hours into the night to get to Lejeune. And my crankiness level MIGHT, and I’m going with “might” here, be a bit elevated.

(somewhere in the background my wife mumbles “oh my God!”)

By flying into Richmond, which is 45 minutes toward Lejeune from my house, Carrie and the kids can pick me up and we can continue down the road.

It’s almost like it was meant to be.

So here it is folks: San Diego next week, a week home, a week in Missouri, 3 days in Lejeune, one day back, back to California for the Wild Wild West Marathon (which includes Cinco De Mayo in VEGAS!!!!), back on Mother’s Day and then two days until Sarah McLachlan concert in Norfolk.

Then I come home and drool a lot.




Free Advice for Today:
"Eat lightly or not at all before giving a speech or making a presentation."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003


Quote of the Day:

"If at first you don't succeed, redefine success.”

- Unknown

Wednesday, April 6, 2005

Paying For Pain

I blew it. I met with early success and then in the same category, I got goose-egged.

The Marine Corps Marathon sign up started today. I actually considered waking up at midnight to make sure I got in but decided to wait until the morning. But then I thought that would be as stupid as running 26.2 miles ... wait a minute. Never mind. Anyway, they couldn’t sell out 30,000 entries in 6 hours. Could they?

Ends up they couldn’t, despite the ominous announcement that it might sell out in 24 hours. There’s no lottery this year so as long as you are one of the first 30,000 people to log in and sign up, you can gleefully part with $89.25 and run 26.2 miles in October. What kind of moron would...

So I got signed up and have my confirmation number.

When I went to work, there was a skip in my step. After tripping thusly, I realized I was happy that I was signed up for this marathon. I’ve run it the last two years but they haven’t been the most successful of my marathon career. The first one, two years ago, was a few days after arriving in Virginia. A month of vacation and traveling cross-country with my family was not the recipe for marathon success. Neither was unpacking boxes for three days straight before the race. I was fat, out of shape, and miserable. Hence the 5 ½ hour fiasco.

Last year was better, just over 4 hours. But I had trained hard to get under my magical 4 hour mark which was not to be. But this year, it will be different. Yes, that IS what I say every year and it IS what I will be saying at the start of EVERY marathon I ever run so if you want to go and burst bubbles, excuse yourself to the latest Michael Jackson sleepover.

Anyway, I got in. I’m running the 30th Annual Marine Corps Marathon on October 30th.

Right on the heels of this excitement, I re-remembered for the umpteenth (OMG, Word’s spell checker was copasetic with “umpteenth”!! WTFO?) time that I needed to sign up for the Down & Dirty race. This is an annual 5 miler that the base puts on where you run through some pretty difficult trails at the Officer’s Candidate School. Last year, I opened my goodie bag and discovered I happened to be number 69. So yes, my bib said “Down & Dirty 69.”

I was the king for the day.

This year, I had picked up an application months ago and it was sitting somewhere in the mountain of stuff on my computer desk at home. I seem to remember that early registration ended on April 7th. That was the only date that stuck in my head and I guess I thought that since most early registrations end weeks before the race, I had plenty of time.

In the morning, I looked up the info on the website and to my horror, I discovered that the race was THIS SATURDAY!!!!! Huh?! (ala Scooby Doo). Shit! (ala Jason).

Who ends “early” registration two days before the race?

On my way out to run my weekly track work out (WHITE HOT HATE, WHITE HOT HATE, WHITE HOT HATE, WHITE HOT HATE, WHITE HOT HATE, WHITE HOT HATE, WHITE HOT HATE,…) I grabbed my wallet and decided to stop by the gym to sign up. I thought it strange that I would be signing up for two races on the same day and that was likely a bad karma moment.

I get to the gym and I’ve learned that it’s easier to just swipe my ID card to go upstairs rather than trying to explain to the half-sleeping gatekeeper I wasn’t there to work out. I got to the top deck where the gym is and where all the offices were and as usual, I spent a few minutes trying to locate anyone who was supposed to be working. Check behind the front counter you say? You’d think but alas, not a high-percentage success rate.

Poking my head into a few offices, I finally found someone who worked there. She told me to go to the next office. The door was shut so I knocked and was told to come in.

“Is this where I sign up for the Down & Dirty?”
“Nope. Sold out.”
Blank stare on both faces.
“Sold out?”
“Yep, we got 400 sign ups.”
Two more blank stares.
“There’s no way…”
“Nope.”
“Is there… a cancellation list or…”
“Nope.”
A last set of blank stares.
“You’ve been over-so-helpful”

I slammed the door and left.

But then as the most heinous example of compensation ever conceived, I was able to go do six 800 yard sprints. Wonderful.

Bottom line: I WILL be running the Marine Corps Marathon this year but I will NOT be Down, nor will I be Dirty. Such is life.




Free Advice for Today:
"Wear a tie with cartoon characters on it if you work with kids."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003


Quote of the Day:

"Schizophrenia beats being alone.”

- Unknown

Tuesday, April 5, 2005

Sleeves Up

Yesterday, we Marines aboard Quantico, accomplished an annual ritual. We rolled our sleeves up.

Marines reading this are nodding their heads knowingly. Others are wondering why this would be blog-worthy. Allow me to explain.

When we wear our cammies, we either have our sleeves up or down, unless we are in the field (combat zone) when they are always down. And if you think the choice of having them up or down is willy-nilly, then smack yourself. This is the Marine Corps, for chrissakes!

In case you didn’t know, we are kinda big on uniformity. You might say regimented. You might even go as far to say militant about it. I know, crazy, ain’t it? The Marine Corps? Really? Hm.

When the powers that be decide that we should have our sleeves up, officially dubbing the it the summer seasonal uniform, everyone rolls their sleeves up. It’s that simple. Everyone… Private to General, up with the sleeves. No choice, no excuses, no mood or weather-dependent exceptions. And yes, it’s always cold for the first few weeks and standing outside in formation (ironically to inspect the rolled sleeves) is an exercise in snivel-discipline.

Anyone caught with their sleeves down are open game to get punked out in public by any other Marine regardless if you know them or not. We are not shy about self-policing.

“But Honey, it’s 20 degrees out. Can’t you just roll them down because it’s cold.”

“Babe, I love you so don’t take this the wrong way but… shut up.”

(and he thought 20 degrees was cold…)

Now it used to be that you could tell a lot about a Marine by his uniform. With cammies you had to press and boots you had to shine, you could take one look at a Marine and know where he was at in his professionalism. But now with wash-and-wear cammies and suede combat boots, you could roll out of bed half drunk with your uniform on from the night before and look pretty much like the guy who spent hours ironing his uniform that morning. (Not that I’ve tested this… let’s move on…)

So with the sleeves we have one last indicator. You see, when I say we roll up our sleeves, I’m not talking putting it on and using one hand to sloppily roll up the sleeve any which way your manual dexterity can handle. Oh no, Gentle Reader. It’s an entire evolution that involves hours of ironing, starching, cussing, and many restarts. That is, if you really give a crap about it and therein lies the indicator. It’s pretty obvious who puts the work into or not.

I’ve mellowed a bit over the years but let me explain the apex of my obsession with this (and it is not even to the most violent degree that some Marines go to.)

First, I washed the cammies and turned the blouse inside out (yes, we call it a blouse. Go ahead, make a comment). I used a bead of washable Elmer’s glue along to sleeve and once it got tacky, I would carefully turn the sleeves right-side-out. I would soak the sleeve with sizing and hit it with a hot iron. A couple of applications at it was ready, indicated by a sheetrock-style rigidity. The washable glue guaranteed a sharp crease that stayed sharp.

I would then fold over a tapered wedge starting from the armpit to the cuff, making a cone shape. This allowed the roll to proceed neatly by folding in the material at the cuff and allowing more room as you move up the arm.

I would carefully fold over the cuff 4 inches, push hard on the fold, spray it with starch, and hammer it with a hot iron. Waiting about 30 second for it to cool, I would repeat the process complete with starch and iron. This would go on until I got to the mid tricep area.

The Golden Rule of Sleeve-Rolling Pessimism: Only one sleeve will roll easily. If it’s the first one, you know you are going to play hell with the second. Often what happens is that you get to the top and it falls apart on you (the long fold comes out and then suddenly the cuff can fit around your leg) and the only thing to do is cuss real loud, angrily unfold the whole sleeve, realize you just lost 45 minutes, and start over. But at least you know the second sleeve will go up beautifully the first time. The Golden Rule.

There are three levels, tests if you will, that you must accomplish before claiming success.

1. Is the sleeve rolling and the long fold staying in place? You can tell how things are going by the third fold. Rarely you can salvage a bad start but most of the time, you know if you are pumping the pooch as you are rolling.

2. Did the final 4 inch fold end up where you wanted it to on the tricep? Sometimes you are unfortunate and the sleeve is still too long but one more fold will put it up too high. Again, in rare instances, you can try to pull down on the cuff and squeeze one more cheat roll but success is almost unheard of.

3. The final test: You put on the blouse and see if you nailed it. This will clarify if your roll was as good as you thought, if it ended where it was supposed to, and most importantly, if it all really worked. Many times I have thought I had everything hooked up only to put it on and find to my shock and dismay, it just didn’t work. Most often this was a miscalculated long-fold that made the cuff too tight to the point of pain (and how many times have I had a hell of a time even getting one of these travesties off my arms? It’s embarrassing combined with extremely frustrating, knowing 1.5 hours are going down the shitter combined with another 1.5 of needed investment to fix it).

Then there is sometimes that you put it on and the fold just comes out and you have the monster cuff again. I’ve made up cuss words during these times.

So you see, something as simple as rolling sleeves becomes an entire event for Marines. But the end result is obvious if you have ever seen us with our sleeves rolled up. They look professionally done because frankly, they are.




Free Advice for Today:
"Don't argue with your mother."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003


Quote of the Day:

"It was recently discovered that research causes cancer in rats.”

- Unknown

Monday, April 4, 2005

THE Ben Jones

I tend to be lucky in some respects. You wouldn’t know it if you read my rants and knew my Grose Family Curse, riddled with intricate conspiracies which boil down to “The world is against me.” Just ask my brother. Or my dad. Or my parole officer.

But there is one area that I’ve always enjoyed more than my share of good fortune: serial murder. Oops, I mean, meeting famous people.

Over my Marine Corps career, I’ve run into Vice-Presidents, Commandants, Assistant-Commandants, Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, and even a boxing champion.

But my stock never went up as much as after I met R. Lee Ermey one fateful day, to be repeated a decade later (and which promises to happen again in October). I wrote a bunch of stories about my experiences and is what’s responsible for a lot of traffic on my webpage.

Then there was meeting the Rose Garden DI and my gall in asking him to strike the famous pose with me as the scared private. Now that was a strange encounter.

Well, folks, it happened again. But this will take some explaining.

The people I’ve described up to now are famous to the general public. OK, the Rose Garden DI is a little nichey but most people would at least recognize the famous poster. But what I’m about to explain is a bit different because most of you will have never heard of him. So why does he fall in the “Famous People Jason Has Annoyed Over The Years” category? I’ll explain.

Ben Jones is an icon. To who? Well, only a select few. To all others, he’s just some old guy in the desert but to the very small population that call themselves “Ultra-runners,” he is larger than life.

As a population, a small percentage of human beings are considered “runners.” A smaller slice are "distance runners" and even further up the pyramid are marathoners. As you climb higher up, there are the ultrarunners (defined as anyone who runs races greater than 26.2 miles but purists hold it at 50 miles or more).

Now take that sliver of the population and you have those people who are unique because of the distance they run. But add a few more variants into the mix and you get those who feel that distance alone is not unique enough. Add in purposely-adverse weather conditions and inhospitable environments and you start to whittle down to a few deranged individuals.

And the grand-pubah of all this kind of insanity is the Badwater Ultramarathon. It is the end-all, be-all of all ultramarathons because of its distance (135 miles uphill), starting point (282 feet below sea level in a bottom of Death Valley, A.K.A. lowest point in the U.S.), ending point (Mount Whitney portal, A.K.A. the highest point in the U.S.), time of year (mid-July), and average temperature (130 and that’s Fahrenheit, people).

If you do this race, even finish it, you have scaled the pinnacle of ultrarunning and you have nothing left to prove. Ever.

So, do you have a picture of what this race means? Got the general feel?

OK, now, Ben Jones is the widely accepted grandfather of this race. He is a doctor, his wife an expert on foot care, and they have both completed the race several times. They call him the Mayor of Badwater (although it’s really just a sign near a salt pond in the ass of Death Valley). He has become such an expert at this race that the reverence one must pay to him, if you ever even thought about attempting the race, is akin to going to the man on the mountain for the answer to life.

To the general public, the reaction would likely be “Ben who?” but to anyone who ever put more than one brain cell toward considering ultrarunning as a hobby, it would be more like “THE Ben Jones? Really?

This goes to show that a man can be utterly unknown to the average man but to a very few who are involved in a specific culture, the same man can loom large in almost god-like proportions.

So here’s where my luck unfolds. I write the Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce (where they host the annual Wild Wild West Marathon) and ask a few questions. I make an inside joke intended for the Four Horsemen (my buddies) who are CC’ed on the email but the lady at the Chamber misunderstands my comment and thinks I’m complaining about some portion of the race in past years.

It was weird but if you looked at it just right, it could be misconstrued if taken out of context.

Anyway, after she wrote back to ask what exactly I meant and if she could rectify whatever the cause of my heartburn, I returned the email with profuse apologies and explanations. Within my blathering, I explained my love for this race and why I was traveling from Virginia to California (2 years in a row) to run my 6th Wild Wild West Race in a row. I gave a little history of my running adventures and she was so impressed with my explanation, she said she was going to forward it to Ben Jones.

THE Ben Jones? Really?

I told her if she was going to do that, to tell him I was shooting for the Badwater in 2009.

Again, this is like telling an angel to give a head’s up to God next time she talked to him that I’ll be coming up. Or, considering the temperature, maybe Hell would be a better analogy but I didn’t really want to compare Ben Jones to Satan. I mean, I haven’t even met the man. Check back at about mile 100 in 2009.

A few weeks later I get an email and the “TO:” field reads “Ben Jones.”

THE Ben Jones? Really?

It was a really kind letter and when we continued our correspondence, he said he’d look forward to meeting me when I came to Lone Pine next month.

THE Ben Jones! Really!

I’m so excited because although it will mean little to anyone outside the Badwater world, I have a meeting with THE Ben Jones when I go to Lone Pine this year. If this blog has not explained what that means to me, then I am unable to convey the significance of this.

By the way, it wasn’t the first time I had seen him. I just didn’t know it. Here is how I explained it to him.

I’m really looking forward to chewing the fat with you.

You know, I unknowingly bumped into you before. At the packet pick up of the Wild Wild West one year, I noticed your Badwater t-shirt but it was before I ever considered the race. I knew what it was and its reputation but had no idea who “Ben Jones” was. Since then, I’ve come to know your history with the race and in hindsight, feel like I missed out on an opportunity that I’m excited to rectify this year.

Here is the link to the pictures I took that year. Long story short, I tried to sneak some pictures of you just by virtue of being in the presence of a Badwater participant. I had no idea it was THE Badwater participant.

http://www.grose.us/marathon/LonePine/2003/03wwwpics3.html




Free Advice for Today:
"Never criticize a gift."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003


Quote of the Day:

"You can't have everything, where would you put it?”

- Unknown

Sunday, April 3, 2005

An Unrequested Extension

Today was supposed to be 16 miles. How did I come up with that number? Well, I’d like to say it was part of an organized training plan like I’ve used for every other marathon I’ve ever ran but the truth be told, my last few long runs evolved something like this"

Uh, crap, the marathon is coming up in about a month and I haven’t run more than 6 miles since October. I should go and run 12 miles next weekend.

(A lot of time, pain, and depression centered around how difficult 12 miles that turned into 10 miles was…)

OK, I did 10 last week, I should really do 12 this weekend.

(Great 12 miler, if there is such an animal…)

Let’s go 15 this week…oh, bad weather both days so I’m bagging it.

OK, I bagged last week so it’s 16 miles this week. Pay, bitch.

This brings me to today. But there were issues. Of course there were issues.

I asked my wife if she wanted to go with me, her riding the bike and me slogging along at about a 10 minute pace. At first, it didn’t seem possible since we had slept in a little (after yesterday’s gut-fest) and she had to get Alex to a soccer practice at 3:00. But we managed to dump him off at a friend’s house and we were ready to go.

I was glad to have company and since she was riding a bike, she could carry the Camelback full of water and all the Gu packets. I could run relatively unburdened, compared to my normal traveling gypsy show. I even ditched the headphones because I didn’t want to drag her out there and then ignore her. Something about rock throwing and/or my water supply rolling off back to the car.

The weather was great for running. But for biking, well, not so much. She was cold the whole time but because I heat up when I run, it was ideal for a long run. So, yeah, I'm good (dagger-stare from the missus).

Everything was going great and to answer my original question about how I came up with the distance, I based it on a cross street that I thought was exactly 8 miles out. Let me repeat a portion of that last sentence: … that I thought was exactly 8 miles out. So round trip would presumably be 16 miles. And presumably I'm not a math dolt. That’s what I dialed in upstairs and that’s what I was ready for.

At the 10 minutes per mile pace I normally hover at, I should have hit the halfway point at 1 hour and 20 minutes. (Go ahead, check the math, I’ll wait….). But at that mark, I was nowhere near the cross street so I logically deduced that I was going too slow. It would be right here beyond the bend. Well the bend bended and no cross street. Just a little farther… and no joy. What the hell was going on?

At the 1 hour and 30 minute mark, we came up to the cross street. I couldn’t have run that slow so I recalculated the mathematical gymnastics that convinced me it was 8 miles in the first place.

You see, it was last year and I needed a 20 mile run. I got to this cross street which fed onto a busy street off the base. I remember every step after that because I hated the busy, no-shoulder gambit and it was just to get a couple of miles of distance in. I went one mile on this road, turned around, and made my way back.

Go ahead and do the math and you’ll be able to see my mistake before I explain it.

ASSUMING it was 9 miles (instead of the 8 I got stuck in my head) to the cross street, add one for the extra gambit bafoonery, one more back to the cross street, and finish up the 9 miles back to the start and you get, yes folks, 20!!!

How that ever got turned into 8 miles instead of 9 miles in my head, I don’t know. But it did confirm, if you believe a year old calculation based on a 20 mile run, that I had run 9 miles today. This is further supported with what I was pretty sure was a 10 minute pace which put me on the spot at the exact time.

What does all this mean? Well, I guess I was in for an 18 mile run vice a 16 mile run. You would think this a major blow to my abilities but for some reason, I was up for the task and felt great. Maybe it was the fact that I had all the water I needed, didn’t have to carry it, and had opened Gu packets ready for me at every 5 mile mark. Whatever the reason, I made it back in the same time and maintained a 10 minute pace for 3 whole hours. I felt amazingly good coming across the line and could have continued. Not that it didn’t hurt or that I wasn’t ready for the run to be done, mind you, but I wasn't drooling and asking for my 2nd grade lunch box with the Six Million Dollar Man on it.

So lessoned learned and I got a bonus of completing an 18 mile run today. It was a good day, despite my temporary retardation.




Free Advice for Today:
"Think big thoughts but relish small pleasures."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003


Quote of the Day:

"Sorry folks for the hard landing. It wasn't the pilot's fault, and it wasn't the plane's fault. It was the asphalt.”

- Unknown

Saturday, April 2, 2005

Goodbye Pope, Hello Eat-O-Rama

Two big events happened today:

1. It was our first “free day” where we, as a family, could eat as much of anything our guts desired and

2. Something about the Pope kickin’ off.

First, let me start off by saying that if you are Catholic and/or get easily offended by irreverence, you are really gonna be pissed off so you might as well just stop reading. I am not Catholic and while it’s sad that the man won’t be converting oxygen into carbon monoxide (or is it dioxide? Damn high school chemistry!) any more, my everyday life will not be changed.

So for the first (OK, “next”) reason to get mad at me, I’ll start with the free day.

We are Eating For Life, in case you didn’t know and it’s been working out pretty good. I mean, we’re all still alive and have not clawed out each other's entrails or anything. That’s always a good start.

One day a week, we get to go hog wild. Exactly how wild it is to be “hog” I won’t dissect but suffice it to say that the green flag was waved at putting anything we wanted into our mouths and swallowing, but I drew a line at furniture and the dog, much to the dog’s relief. An frankly, since I even had to involve the furniture in this is a cause for concern but I digress.

Originally, this shameless display of wanton consumption was going to have to wait until Sunday because Alex’s soccer game and my 16 mile run was going to use up valuable gorge time. But last night, storms rolled in and I made the announcement that if Alex’s game was cancelled, I would put my run off to Sunday and we would eat like kings. Big, fat, glutinous pig-like kings.

The game was cancelled before we went to bed so we all went to sleep with the thoughts of sugar plums dancing in our heads. Deep-fried breaded sugar plums dipped in chocolate.

The first order of business in the morning was waffles. Carrie stayed in bed and the kids helped me to mix up a big ole batch of scrumptious waffles. Alex made an entire package of bacon and we all just went at it. I was even a bit disappointed that we ran out of real butter and had to resort to the low fat kind.

For lunch, there was no question at my choice. Taco Hell. Two double-decker tacos, a 7-layer burrito (no onions, please) and an order of chips and cheese. Follow all that down with a beer and I was set.

The kids chose Burger King for lunch. Eh, who can account for taste?

By the time dinner rolled around, I wasn’t feeling too good. I think it was the …. fake butter. Maybe the Taco Hell didn’t help but I was determined to have a guilt-free day.

We all discussed what to have for dinner and although none of us were particularly starving (having consumed more junk than the prior two weeks combined), we settled on some form of pizza. I was leaning more toward the order-out kind but the kids wanted the Chef-Boy-Ardee kind that I make so they won out.

I ate the pizza but it wasn’t as satisfying as it would have been if I was really hungry. But dammit, I only had this day and I was not going to waste it, no matter how much it hurt or how much damage I caused. Bring on the ambulance, this is my free day!!!!

Normally we finish two pizzas but tonight, ¾ of one was left to rot. Our healthy diet had done us in and I think that’s part of the plan.

I wanted one more thing. Popcorn. It’s something I’ve really missed for the last couple of weeks and I was determined to have a nice big heaping bowl of it while watching a movie. But I was gut-blocked by the missus who sprang an unforeseen attack on my culinary desires. She had gone to the store and had…she bought… the freezer contained…. Oh the horror…. Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food ice cream!!!!!!

I got about half way through it and I was done. I mean, I had absolutely no desire to put anything even near my mouth. The good news is that I didn’t eat nearly as much as I had fantasized during the week. The bad news is that I ran out of steam before satisfying all those food fantasies. And I had a gut ache. And I had a 16 mile run the next morning.

My last thought before going to bed: “What the F@#%*@# was I thinking?!” which, ironically, will be the exact same thought the same time next week.

Oh, and the Pope died today. He was old. He died. A billion people are losin’ it tonight and if there is an upshot to the event, it would have to be that I don’t have to read anymore about Terry Schiavo for a few days.

A discussion I had about it today with my wife:

“The Pope’s dead.”
“I hope he gave his heart to Jesus or he’s in Hell.”
“He’s the Pope, I think he has a by, regardless.”
“Nope.”

Imagine that, a Pope who somehow never got around to actually believing. Now THAT would be an awkward moment at the Pearly Gates.

"Uh, yeah, here's the thing..."




Free Advice for Today:
"When you're buying something that you only need to buy once, buy the best you can afford."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003


Quote of the Day:

"Some drink from the fountain of knowledge; he only gargled.”

- Unknown

Friday, April 1, 2005

My Foolish History

Yet another year without a practical joke. Neither given nor received, and that’s OK with me. Like a described last year, I don’t partake in this annual event and rather than rehash the reasons, I’ll just throw the link at you and let you do the research.

But I will share a couple of intricate jokes I’ve heard about.

You can go in to your boss’s office and if he has a wooden desk or a wooden chair, this would work great. Just go in there when he’s not there and use sandpaper to shave off a tiny bit of each leg. Repeat this over a matter of months and eventually, either his chair will seem to high, his desk too short, or whatever combination you try.

This next one works great for the military. If you have a roommate or someone leaves their uniform in the locker room, take it and have the waist taken in overnight, but just slightly. Do this every once in awhile and watch how he can’t figure out why his pants are getting tighter. Most likely he will work overtime in the gym to lose the inches. Then one day, after he’s had enough, let out the pants way too much but not enough for him to suspect anything. He’ll think he lost a bunch of weight over night.

What else. Oh, this one actually happened. At Tanks, the S3 office had two adjoining offices; one for the S3 officer and next door for all the other officers. The S3 was a great guy and future Battalion Commander. They bought a regular doorbell and wrapped tape around the bell to muffle it and then hid it in the ceiling tile of his office. They ran the wires to the adjoining office and hooked it up out of sight. Every once in awhile they would push it and it would give off this barely audible ring.

They kept this up for months and since everyone was in on it, sometimes they would ring it while someone was in the office with the S3 officer who would exclaim

“There! Did you hear that?!”
“Hear what, Sir?”
“That ringing. Like a doorbell.”
“No, sir, I didn’t hear anything.”
“I could swear I hear it every once in awhile.”
(they would ring it again)
“THERE! Did you hear it? You had to have heard that!”
“Uhh, no Sir, I didn’t hear anything. Maybe you should see Doc.”

They kept this up for months and finally let him in on it. I think his reaction was “Communists!!!

In the same spirit but a lot meaner happened when I was a barracks rat as a PFC and LCPL. Every Friday morning we would have a Marine Corps white glove inspection that literally had a white glove. I mean it was brutal. We would have to buff ourselves out of the room and a single sock print on the floor would fail you. They even checked the inside of the light bulb receptors.

This meant that every Thursday night consisted of hours and hours of field day to get your room immaculate. Come Friday morning, there was not a molecule of dirt in the entire room.

One late Thursday, early Friday we decided it was time to show our displeasure for one of our fellow Marines. It was simple but as effective as it was mean. We got a bottle of talcum powder and set up a fan to blow right at the crack under the door. The duty, over the course of the night, would add powder in small amounts. The result was hilarious (at least to us).

Since talcum is so light, the fan blew it under the door and it was airborne, thus floating to every square millimeter in the room. The unlucky resident never knew what hit him and when he awoke, we heard screams and the entire floor was waiting outside his door when it flew open to expose a ghost white young Marine covered from head to toe with a fine layer of talcum. Cussing (showing an amazingly red mouth that stood out from his ghostly appearance) as he ran down the hall to the head, we peeked into the room and it looked like a winter wonderland. It looked like there was an even layer white foam on every single surface.

And I don’t even think it was April 1st. Maybe I'm better at this that I thought.




Free Advice for Today:
"Don't overfeed horses or brothers-in-law."
- 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/