Jason's BLOG pages

 
 

 


How Did I Get Here?

(and what is that smell?)

June 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.


I'm back.

And I have a month worth of blogs that I've kept up with while on vacation and devoid of connectivity for the most part.

But you of short attention span, will not read them. If I post them, you will not take the time to go back and read of my epic adventures. You just won't. I know you. Stop arguing.

Babies.

So here is what I'm gonna do. I will keep up with them but will only post two per day starting with the oldest until I catch up. For you math whizzes, you will see that it will take two weeks to catch up in this manner.

If you detect a tone here, it's because I'm going to be harder on myself about all aspects of my life which includes you. Sorry if it bleeds over but it's past due.

So come live in the past with me...


Quote of the Day:

"THE BUCK DOESN'T EVEN SLOW DOWN HERE, So keep on going."

- Unknown

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Wren Gives Me Another Chance Despite Jackassery On My Part

It was 0600 and I had no idea what happened. I had laid down for a nap at 6:30 last night so unless my scary math skills fail me, we’re talking 11 ½ hours of sleep. WTFO?

OK, this cannot go unpunished. Get on the road, Grose!!!

The run was nearly orgasmic. When I lived in the desert, running back in Washington was memorable because of the oxygen-saturated air. It was like rocket fuel. Now that I live in Virginia, the oxygen isn’t the big deal (it’s pretty green in Virginia) but the lack of humidity is. I got up and ran in 55 degree weather devoid of massive humidity. It was simply intoxicating.

I ran about 4 miles and the dryness, the temperature, and the nostalgia of running in my wife’s childhood neighborhood (and where she was living when we met in 1987) made the run truly enjoyable. I have a marathon on the 10th so I had business to take care of before I start the taper.

If I can complain about one thing it would be that my in-laws do not have high speed internet. They have dial up.

And it hurts.

Bad.

But I did get an interesting email while I sat there and watched the gerbil run the wheel.

It seems I was a bit of a smartass in my blog a few years ago. I KNOW! I was just as shocked.

I got an email from a David Wren and while the name didn’t jump out at me at first, my memory was soon jarred.

To get the full story, read these posts and then come back.

OK, for those of you that are too damn lazy to go, I’ll indulge your lazy asses and summarize.

I had been looking for a search mechanism for my site for years. The site was getting too big to remember where everything was but I could never find anything that worked very good until I found a free program that worked better than I could have expected. I was so impressed that I set it up, wrote the company praising them, and wrote a detailed blog about it (I KNOW, so unlike me).

Everything was hunky dory for years until I discovered that the search function was not returning some items I knew for sure were on my site. I tinkered with it but to no success so my loyalty evaporated like a plate of Krispy Kremes backstage on Oprah. I was not content to just complain about it, I had to go and tell the company that they can kiss my white ass.

The software was from “WrenSoft.”

Are you getting what I’m serving up here? David Wren?

Anyway, I turned to Google and set up a local search function but that eventually failed also so I sheepishly turned back to WrenSoft and went to their site to see if they had an updated version. They did. For $99.

So I’m back to the free version and trying to tinker with it again. I never get it to quite work 100% but it was better than Google’s functionality and infinitely better than nothing at all so I stuck with it.

Then I get this email:

Jason,

I just came across your blog. In particular the post, "Search Me, I Don't Know!" - Monday, March 21, 2005

The phrase, "WrenSoft can kiss my white ass", caught my eye :-)

I don't think we are prepared to go that far. But we would be prepared to exchange a free copy of the software in exchange for a proper review in your blog.

I think you were using the old creaky V2 release in the past. The current version is V4.1 of the software has almost been re-written since then. It should be easier to use and definitely offers more functions & speed.

Regards,
David Wren
Wrensoft

I have to say, I was embarrassed but the offer he made me was exciting. I could try out his new software for free and all I have to do is review it on my site. Are you kidding? I would do that anyway and this way, I don’t have to negotiate between my self-proclaimed conflict of perfectionism and cheap-assedness.

But I have to wait until I get home, obviously. On the upshot, I have something to look forward to when I get home!!!!




Free Advice for Today:
"Read acknowledgments, introductions, and prefaces of books."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003


Quote of the Day:

"Landing: A controlled mid-air collision with a planet."

- Unknown

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Get The Lattes And Software Prepped, I'm Coming Home To Seattle

Never does 0430 NOT hurt. It’s just the way I’m built and assume like most of the human race. Other than triathletes and ultrarunners who have more discipline than me, this hour should be spent biting the pillow.

But this morning, I had to traverse this great country of ours with my 13-year-old son. Maybe I should have used “get to” rather than “have to” considering I AM on vacation and all. Yeah, I’m going with “get to.”

I tried hard to get everything ready last night so all I had to do was fall into the car and go this morning but since when has that ever worked?

Rousing the boy up was not all that difficult since he was psyched for the trip, seeing his mother and sister after an entire day’s absence, and visiting his family for a few weeks. Just like when I was a kid, this was an adventure for him he had been looking forward to for a long time.

Here was my time table: get up at 0430 and leave by 0515. Get to Eric’s house by 0700 (#@$* D.C. traffic!!!) and get to the airport by 0730 for a 0900 flight. Seemed plausible to me.

When we left, the first order of business was coffee, of course. And since I was the one in charge with no momma to counteract my dictates, I allowed the boy to partake. Hey, he wanted coffee!!! So for the first time, and not the last time in this life, my and my boy stopped off to get some Joe. And by “Joe” I mean coffee, you pervs.

With so much time in the car, I was free to expound my thoughts about traffic in general to my son. He learned a lot of new words.

OK, not really. We talked about a lot of things and I tried, rather successfully I’ll point out, to tone down the traffic irritation thing. We had left plenty of time to get to where we were going so there was no need for stress, given or received.

The set up was ideal. I have a friend that lives near the airport so I met him at his house, we drove to the airport to drop me off, he takes the car back to his house and stores it while we’re away, and come picks me up afterward. This way, I don’t have to pay $8 per day for three weeks just to park the Saturn.

With a friend watching Buster, I was making out big time with this whole vacation thing. Other than the $700 per ticket plane (un)fare. But other than that….

Another opportunity that arose was to show my boy what benefit a frequent traveler can be to someone, especially a young boy who isn’t sure about this whole increased security situation at airports. I explained to him how to get through security and other than looking at me like the old man had lost his grape when I told him to remove his shoes, he came through with flying colors.

I knew Alex was going to be a happy sight to whoever was assigned the seat next to him. A small, well-behaved boy who didn’t have the top 16 layers of fat oozing over into the next seat. Yeah, he was a gold mine.

This was the first time I had flown Frontier and I was impressed that the seats were huge. Compared to Southwest’s seatlets, Frontier was downright luxury. They also had an “entertainment system” built into the headrest of each seat in front of you. They offered DirectTV and movies…. for a price.

There’s always something. In essence, there is a collection of amenities the airlines can offer and they have the choice to offer or not offer them. To charge or not charge for the offerings. They are all the same amenities but just different combinations of what you have to pay for.

Food, entertainment, and alcohol are the big ones. Do they offer a meal? A snack? Peanuts? Do they charge for headphone use? For movies? Do they charge $3 for a beer? $5? $7?

Here is how Frontier does it. No peanuts. A bagel or a bag of Doritos. $5 for a beer. Free headphones. $5 to watch all of the DirectTV channels for the duration of the flight. $5 to watch a movie.

I decided that my SuperDad powers should prevail and get my boy a movie or the DirectTV. Only $5 to keep the boy entertained for a few hours? Deal.

I didn’t want to screw this up. Please don’t screw this up. Simple, right? Set the channel, swipe the card, agree to let it charge you $5, off to the races. Please don’t screw this up…

I screwed it up.

Actually, no, it wasn’t my fault. I swiped the card and answered “yes” that I would agree to accept the charge. It verified it and we were set.

Until we went to the Nickelodeon station.

“Temporarily unavailable.”

What!? Wait a minute, I paid for this!!! Stewardess!!! No not you Mr. Tinkerbell, the one with ovaries.

Let me go tangent for a second.

If this guy was not gay, then he had just as many problems with perception as if he was a flaming homobot. Fat and metrosexual-looking in demeanor and glasses (which I had a sneaking suspicion were only for “the look”). But the most irritating was the lilting voice which gave him away as one who bats for the same team. He would come around with a trashbag and ask if we had any “presents” which was his cutesy little term for trash. With his hands cupped on each other in front of him, he kept inquiring about the plans of the couple behind us. At one point, he asked me “Are we having fun?”

I glared at him with a look that very much indicated he should get his light-loafered and misused ass away from my general aura of hatred.

Alex giggled. He knew the score.

OK, back to the entertainment.

I got the attention of the other stewardess (they are all stewardesses) and informed her about my dilemma (no, not about Ass-Pounding Andy) with Nickelodeon. We came to the determination that he could use my screen so she swiped her card through and enabled my DirectTV. But then she left and it ends up that it had the same problem.
Sorry Boy, no joy.

So to her credit, she came back and since she could not credit my card, she gave me a card for a free swipe on my next trip which would normally be a total rip off except I knew I could use it on the next leg of this trip from Denver to Seattle. Then I had to resist the urge to watch the channels that were available since both our consoles were active. But I hadn’t paid for it (actually I had but I had the free card that I was going to use on the next leg) so it wasn’t right to watch.

Coming into Denver sucked. The ride was bumpy and the tail of the plane swayed back and forth which logically convinced me that we were all going down in a fiery ball of pain, suffering, and sheer horror. Alex thought it was fun. I lost 46 pounds of sweat through my hands.

We had a picnic in the Denver airport. Paying $11 for a couple of crispy strip meals at KFC, we sat by a big window and chowed while watching planes take off. It was a great time with just me and my boy.

The second leg of the trip was great because the boy could watch his TV and it was only 2 ½ hours. But the best part was on the final approach I looked out and saw what I thought was Mount Rainier in the distance. It soon became evident that I was mistaken since we flew right by the real Rainier a few minutes later.

As though seeing Mount Rainer up close was not cool enough, there was a bigger treat out the window. In one shot, I could see Mount Rainier, Mount Hood, Mount Shasta, and Mount St. Helens. I made the boy take off his headphones and showed him, explaining what he was looking at.

“Cool.”

Back on went the headphones.. <sigh>.

As we went right past Rainier (the most awesome sight, majestic as a mother$%$#%!!!!) I kept tapping Alex and pointing out the window.

Head nod, back to Nickelodeon.

Tap.

“Cool.”

Tap, tap.

No response.

“YOU WILL APPRECIATE THIS BEAUTY AND ICON FROM MY CHILDHODD, YOU LITTLE INGRATE!!!!”

Maybe that last part was in my head and maybe I subdued it before it left the confines of my skull. Maybe.
Landing at SeaTac airport was a little less dicey than Denver but not much. Damn sliding!!! But we touched down and I was home once again.

Carrie picked us up after it took forever to get our bags and we headed back to her parents house. At 6:30 PM local time I decided it was a good idea to catch a little nap. Just a little one.

That’s the last thing I remembered for the rest of the night. I was home. And I was crashed.




Free Advice for Today:
"Enter a room or meeting like you own the place."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003


Quote of the Day:

"I was only looking at your name tag, honest!"

- Unknown

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Back Water International

Here’s the premise. You have to drop someone off at Baltimore/Washington International Airport. You live in Fredericksburg. The flight leaves at 0800.

Translation: you have to dive into the teeth of morning D.C. traffic into the city.

I will wait for your cataclysmic horror to subside before I continue…..

On the upside, we had 4 people so we could use the carpool lane. Unlike HOV lanes from my native Seattle which only require 2 or more passengers, the ones in Virginia want 3 people which creates the slug phenomenon. There are actual “slug lots” where people wait and perfect strangers stop in and pick them up. The slug gets a free ride and the driver gets to use the HOV lane. This set up would be too left to chance for my constitution and lack of patience for the general stupidity of the public at large. But there are people who consistently use this arrangement and more power to them.

Anyway, we got the Pilot loaded and I endured a continuous flow of instructions from my wife about getting everything ready for my own trip tomorrow. I would have to make the final prep to secure the house for our 3 week absence that included getting Buster over to a Sir Phil’s house, adjusting the thermometer of the house, making sure there was no trash that would rot, and about 10 million other details that hurt my head to think about.

We made good time and I got them to the airport successfully. I felt kind of bad just kicking my wife and daughter to the curb but with heightened security, I wouldn’t be able to get them to the gate and she insisted I just drop them off. So beat it.

Coming home seemed like it took forever. I was tired but was also trying to finish the 16 hour tape-fest that I was listening to. I was listening to John Adams on 21 cassettes and it seems I'd been listening to it for decades. Don’t get me wrong, it was good but just a marathon of listening. And you know I know what that term means!!!

Alex and I stopped at Denny’s and stuffed ourselves silly. It was good to spend time alone with the boy and I really started to see how old he was getting. At 13, it’s starting to be like spending time with an adult and I’m so proud to see this happening. But he still has knuckleheaded tendancies (don't we all?).

When we got home, I was checking email and right in the middle responding to one, the Internet went down. Alex informed me that the cable was also out so after resetting my modem and computer to no avail, I called crApdelphia and played the hold game.

It was out in my entire area and after checking, I was told I was the first to report this. No, I didn’t get some special prize or anything. Just the knowledge that my whole area would have been ignorantly down with good old crApdelphia not doing anything about it. Was I held up as a hero? No. Nothing. Not even a simple thank you.

The net was down all day so I spent the day getting a haircut, washing Buster, and watching the second season of 24. It’s sooooooo good and I had to get through 8 episodes in order to return the DVDs to the video store before we left tomorrow.

A quick observation that impressed me. You’ve seen on TV and in the movies where a character has a gun pointed to the head of someone and explains that if they give them the information they want, they will kill them quick and make it painless. If not, it will be quite the opposite of quick and painless. A hell of a choice to be sure but you’ve seen it.

Now how many times have you seen them actually kill them? Think about it, they never give up the info and get shot as promised. Nor do you see them get tortured. Usually you hear a gunshot and you think he pulled the trigger only to find out that someone else shows up and shoots the shooter in dramatic flair.

Not Jack Bauer. He gave this choice to a bad guy and after the guy spit out the info…

…phew… phew….. phew

Three shots into the bad guy.

I was like “Holy $h&*&*!!!!!” I mean, you just never see that and he did it.

Jack Bauer is the coolest.

And his daughter, while hot, has to be functionally retarded. If you watch the show, you know what I’m talking about.

We took old Buster over to Sir Phil’s who, in his infinite generosity, fed us hamburgers and fries. I felt kind of bad for the little knucklehead (Buster, not Sir Phil… although….) because he had no idea that Sir Phil’s house was going to be his abode for the next 3 weeks. He and Daisy started romping all over the place as usual and we pulled the old “trip to the backyard as we sneak out the front” routine which Buster’s keen sense of intelligence never pieced together. This was what made me feel bad; that we took advantage of his monumental stupidity. I know the feeling, Buster, I know the feeling.

On my “To Do” list, notice I didn’t include “packing.” Not that I didn’t require this little pleasure but just that I put it off until it was late, I was tired, and was looking at a few hours of sleep.

I’m an idiot.

So I threw just about every pair of underwear, socks, and shirts into a huge suitcase. I am a relentless over-packer and it got so bad that I had to enlist the aid of a second small suitcase. Carrie will give me no end of shit over this but I’m allowed two checked bags and dammit, I’m using them.

At 0100, I crawled into bed and collapsed. I get 3 ½ hours. Lovely.




Free Advice for Today:
"Never underestimate the influence of the people you have allowed into your life."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003


Quote of the Day:

"I've learned that we are responsible for what we do, unless we are celebrities."

- Unknown

Monday, June 27, 2005

Why Are You Sitting At Your Desk In Your Underwear, Captain?

The day before going on vacation is golden. It’s almost on par with the last day of work. Nobody can touch you, you don’t have to worry about starting anything new, and you are on the cusp of blissful non-responsibility.

This morning, I told my Gunny I had only three answers.

1. Yes.
2. No.
3. I don’t care.

Then I told him not to bother me with deciding which was the best answer and to just pick one and go with it.

You might think he would take advantage of this. You might expect that I OK’ed a list of things I would normally never authorize. But this will not be the case and not because he knows the repercussions of such advantage-taking would be painful but because he’s a good man.

So I sat in my office, tied up a few loose ends, and prepared for 3 weeks of being left to my own devices.

Stop shivering, it’s distracting.




Free Advice for Today:
"When a friend is in need, help him without his having to ask."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003


Quote of the Day:

"I've learned that you shouldn't compare yourself to others - they are more f***** up than you think."

- Unknown

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Who Said 25? Why Is Everyone Pointing At Someone Else?

Please don’t ask me how exactly it happened but somewhere between last night and this morning, I found it necessary to attempt a 32 mile run. Why? I asked you not to ask me that. Way to follow directions.

I was moody last night and didn’t want to talk to anyone. My wife found me laying on the bed, deep in thought and knew that I was going through my mental long-run-eve acrobatics.

Part of my problem was the hour at which I had to wake up. With the skyrocketing heat combined with the accompanying humidity, I had to be running as the sun came up. So a 0400 wake up time was in the cards (I hate those $#%#$%$# cards!) and I also had my weekly bout with the realization that I once again forgot something at work so I would have to swing by there before the run. This was not helping matters as my cowering, shaking mood-barometer of a dog can attest.

By the time I got up, got ready, drove to work, and got to TBS for the run, it was almost exactly 0600. I had been up two hours before the buttcrack of dawn and hadn’t run a step. Heavy sigh.

It was in my head that I would run to the 8 mile turn-around and back. Then it occurred to me that I should do the loop (another 8 miles) and what the hell, reverse loop. This seemed to be decided before my common sense had any say in the matter and suddenly, I was roped into it but I declared that whoever was responsible for this travesty of a decision would pay. And pay dearly.

At the 1.5 mile mark I was feeling good but then I saw that the gate to the hinterlands was closed. I had to make a decision whether to go around the gate or hang a right and stick to the 8 mile loops. On the one hand, Christie’s husband, Brian, who works at TBS had told me they no longer use the ranges out there on the weekend but I really didn’t want to be looking over my shoulder for 16 miles wondering if someone would come up and inform me just how much of a dumbass I am. I already know and the thought of some LCPL reminding me was not all that alluring. The swinging vote was that I knew I had water stops on the loop and I could visit my car for supplies every 8 miles. The bad thing was that I had the opportunity to succumb to the desire to hop in the car and go the hell home.

I had one of those “moments” at about mile 5. No, not one of THOSE or even one of “those” kind. Come on, give me credit; it was only mile 5. (Jason, take a look at your blog last weekend.) <shut up!!!>.

Are we done? Can I continue?

The moment hit me that I was out early running, feeling good, and it was a beautiful scene that only I was privy to. The sun was rising making the scattered clouds light up with an array of colors and everything was serene. I knew the second I saw it that this was the reason it was good to be out at this time in the morning. It was going to be a good run.

The first loop went off without a hitch and I clocked about 1:18. I figured if I can average 1:30 for each lap, that would be grand so I had just put a whole 10 minutes into the bank.

Lap 2 was another wonderful experience but the heat and humidity was rising so I was feeling the effects. Plus, coming into the parking lot, the first thought of many to come arrived:

“Go home, Jason. You did 16 miles and that was your original goal. There is only pain out there for here on out.”

It made a convincing argument. Bastard.

Going out for the third loop, I was stopped at the ½ mile mark by a Corporal in full battle gear.

“I’m going to have to turn you around, Sir.”

So I grabbed him by the throat, disarmed him with my other hand, and beat him senseless with his own side arm.

If you believed that last sentence, you are dumber than I can possibly imagine.

“OK, what’s going on?”
“VIP.”

So now I had a problem; I had to go back another half mile where I would be REALLY tempted to call it a day with 17 miles under my belt. If I went around the other way, I was still looking at the fact that I just added another mile to this run and at this point, every step counted.

In my altered state, so many crazy scenarios ran through my head. I could run the loop and then on the last loop, cut through Application trail again. Or I could just suck it up and accept that the extra mile was just that; extra.

Getting back to the parking lot, I really, really, really wanted to get back in that car. There was A/C in there. There was Gatorade in ice water. There was a trip home where I could crash for a few hours.

It took everything I had to run by. It was pure force of will.

Quite a few decision were starting to be made the further along I got. At one point, it was that I would run to the fire station and turn around. Then it was that I would keep going to Application trail and cut over. Then it was that I would go as far as the guards would let me and turn around. But in the end, it was a survival death slog back to the parking lot, via the loop. It became evident that there would be no 4th loop this day.

Three very important aspects of my preparation for this run kept me in the game for as long as I was. First, I hooked my iPod to the straps of my Camelback so I had it handy on my left shoulder where I could skip songs at will. I wrapped the headphone cords such as they were out of the way and the little setup was ideal.

Second, because I was looping, I didn’t need to carry any supplies except water. I could tuck away my savior-Gu and replenish on the pitstops. This allowed me to leave my waist free of a running bag and the liberty that created was euphoric.

Third, I brought a washcloth with me and soaked it at every water stop. With the heat and humidity, a quick wipe of my face from a cool washcloth was my own little trip to heaven as often as I wanted it.

During this last loop, a car pulled up and stopped beside me. It had two women in it that I recognized because I had passed them twice going the opposite way during my looping.

How FAR are you going?” one asked.

“About 30 miles.”

I was too tired to explain or elaborate about the 50 and 100 I was also training for. They told me they were training for the Marine Corps Marathon and had never run one before. I had remembered they were walking both times I had seen them (and on the second time I asked jokingly “Are you following me?”) and that brought back the fond memories of the terror I had training for my first one.

I told them about my little detour and asked them if the other side was open yet. They told me it was and that meant that I would definitely be completing this loop. I thanked them and asked them if they see my curled up in the fetal position later on the course, if they would so kind as to spit on me.

Is it sad that two pretty women stop to talk to me and all I can think about is the A/C they are sitting in? That was the lingering thought I had as I continued after they left. Sad, sad...

The end was brutal. It was well into the 90s and the time no longer mattered. I was just trying to get to that parking lot and the sun was doing everything it could to stop me. It was me against the elements at this point and every step was a challenge.

With a final push that looked more like a light jog, I crossed the line in a whopping 1:55. I didn’t care. I felt no sense of shame for the time just as I felt no sense of accomplishment for the 25 miles I had just gone out and done on my own. I just wanted A/C and a Gatorade.

By the time I got home, I had cooled off by the pain in my legs and feet were front and center. No one was home so I had to hobble out and get my supplies into the house in many painful trips.

I took a shower that was somewhere near the most ecstatic feeling a human being can experience and by the time I was done, Carrie was home and made me a sandwich and some soup. I think I absorbed it into my body before it hit my stomach.

I thought that the nap I was destined for would be in the same league as the shower but after about an hour of near-death sleep, the lactic acid took over and my legs kept me awake. It didn’t help that the neighborhood kids were cranking their music so I heard the thumping bass without the melody of the song. It was gansta rap anyway so there was no melody but a lot of information about mother-fuckin’ this and that.

It wasn’t until nighttime that I started realizing the accomplishment. I had almost ran an entire marathon and I lived to tell about it. Yeah I was sore and yeah it knocked me out of commission for the rest of the day but it told me that I was ready for the Seafair Marathon on July 10th.

Bring me this marathon. I got four hours to kill.




Free Advice for Today:
"Teach your children the pride, satisfaction, and dignity of doing any job well."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003


Quote of the Day:

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

- Robert Duvall in Secondhand Lions

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Die, Bastard, DIE!

I killed the virus today. If you’ve been keeping up, you know the battle has spanned three days and many hours. But I emerged victorious, chest heaving, holding up my keyboard and roaring FREEDOM!!!!! (I sometimes have a flair for the dramatic).

I ran the monster scan and completed the script by running HiJack this but the registry entry was not there since I did a bit of freelance “regedit”-ing. I started the computer and have not seen hide nor hair of Aurora or the ABI Network.

I hope they die in a syphilitic convulsion chocked full of slow pain and suffering.




Free Advice for Today:
"Don't force machinery."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003


Quote of the Day:

"Don’t run through life so fast that you forget not only where you’ve
been, but also where you are going."

- Unknown

Friday, June 24, 2005

So Long Fast Eddie

You have to understand, my brother is over 6 feet tall and over 200 pounds. I was all they had left after creating him. He is bigger than anyone in our family and towers over everyone in family pictures.

So you get the picture. Big guy. Never been married. Has no kids.

I get a call at work and he seems upset.

“Have you talked to Mom this week?”

This did not sound good. Not much can be good, starting out like that.

“No. What’s up?”
“I had to put Fast Eddie down.”

Like I said, Chris has no kids so his three cats and one lab are the only “kids” he has.

Tangent, Somewhat-Related Joke: A guy is walking on a college campus and runs into an English professor.

“Hey, do you know what time it is?”
“You should never end a sentence with a verb. Do you want to try the question again?”
“OK, do you know what time it is, ASSHOLE?”

Tangent complete.

If you remember, my brother is upset about his cat dying. It seems old Fast Eddie (named after Edgar Martinez of the Seattle Mariners) caught himself a little of the feline leukemia which is what my beloved Sid succumbed to some years ago. So I knew the shitiness that he was going through and knew how no one except other pet-owners would understand why the death of a pet was so traumatic. Even for a big guy like Chris. I was a mess when I had to hold Sid while the vet pumped him full of anesthetic. I was looking into his eyes which slowly dilated and glazed over right in front of mine.

He took the day off and made an appointment with the vet, the same one who charged him $200 to tell Chris that Fast Eddie had leukemia and possibly a cancerous lump in his stomach. Chris waved off the stomach test because the leukemia was endgame anyway. So now it was going to be another $150 to put the old boy down and ashed up for Chris’s safekeeping.

Total cost: $350 for a dead, cancerous cat and a collection of ashes. Bummer.

I assume Puddins and Sam are getting a bit nervous these days.

Puddins: “Seems like it’s getting a bit sparse around here these days, don’t you think Sam?”

Sam: “Man my ass smells good.”




Free Advice for Today:
"When you see someone sitting alone on a beach, make it a point to speak to them."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003


Quote of the Day:

"When you're in love, you're at the mercy of a stranger."

- Unknown

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Disinfection Continues and Giggy Gets Pleathered

If you haven’t read yesterday’s blog, you’d better take a few moments and do so before proceeding. I’ll wait, sitting here more than a little pissed off.

Not at you, mind you. I know you are busy. I know you have things to do and to be honest, I know that I’ve been sporadic with blog entries and the ones I have posted have been a bit long-winded (but you didn’t have to point that out, really. You know who I’m talking to).

I awoke this morning expecting to see a completed scan screen on my computer but this little trip to Blissville was not to be. Here is why.

Why, I ask, would you program something to STOP at the first sign of trouble and ask the user what they wanted to do? Granted, you provide an option to apply your first answer to all future questions but you didn't offer this at the beginning of the scan.

At about the 33% scan complete point, it found something (duh!) and asked if I wanted to quarantine it. Well, YES, you dumb bastard. No, I want it to continue to infect my machine, to disregard the very reason I’m running the scan. Furthermore, can you stop the scan until I answer because it’s not like it takes hours and hours while my computer is virtually inoperative!

I had to go to work and since the kids are now out of school, I didn’t want to tie up the computer all day until I got home so I had to stop the scan and accept that I would have to continue this when I got home.

The other news of the day was iPod case. I still think I’m a bit on the dark side of marital bliss because of the whole iPod purchase so considering accessories for it is a dicey subject. But ever since I got it, I’ve felt like I’ve been carrying around an egg. I needed a case and expressed this to Carrie, along with my desire to eventually own a power charger, a car kit, and a docking station (and a shuffle, and an FM transmitter, and…. maybe I should have stuck with just the “case” argument.)

I went to the exchange but they only had a couple of options. One was sweet but cost $30. It was a thin aluminum case with a neoprene lining. I loved it but spending 1/6 the cost of the iPod was not going to work. Damn Belkin!!!

At night, I made my way to the PWT Capitol of the Universe, WalMart, and viewed their offerings. They had it behind locked glass (… and why was this, WalMart? You are weird little people!) and I had to ask Julio who looked about as happy to help me as he was interested in a home vasectomy kit.

They had exactly what I was looking for and it was only $13 (good old WalMart). It was a leather case, or so it said on the front. It looked like leather but the back said two things that made me think otherwise.

1. Made of vinyl
2. 100% Man-Made Material

A little false advertising on the front, don’t you think?

But it protected “Giggy” which I’ve decided to call it. And it made it so I wasn’t scared silly to handle it, throw it in my bag, or generally misuse it (keep it clean, pervs!).




Free Advice for Today:
"Remember than nothing important was ever achieved without someone's taking a risk."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003


Quote of the Day:

"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go."

- T.S. Elliot

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Infection Imperfection

It happened again. I got an uber-virus on my computer and I’m not very happy about it. I truly wish I could meet with the author of this virus or any virus author so I could proceed to beat the holy living shit out of them. Then pound them until they are pink mush. And then beat them some more. And then form their geletous refuse into the shape of a human again and start all over.

As you can tell, I’m not too happy about all of this.

It happened when I innocently tried to look up some lyrics. I know that these days, Googling for song lyrics is pretty much just pulling up a list of spyware/virus sites. I had gone through this before so to try to head this off, I scrolled down a few pages in the hopes that I could get past the big ones and try to catch the lessor infected sites.

Uh…..no.

The second I hit the link, I knew I was infected. Pop-ups were coming fast and furious and my blocker was knocking them down as fast as they appeared. But then the tell-tale sign that I was infected came when my start-up monitor and another protection program came up and ask if I wanted to allow a certain executable. The good news was that it caught it but the bad news, I knew, was that it would continue to ask me over and over, in effect, screwing up my computer.

I knew I was screwed and while I knew I would get rid of it, the deep, aching feeling hit that I was going to spend too much time (defined as more than 5 seconds) undoing what some shitbag programming jackass did to me. So the steaming began.

My first reaction is to run Ad Aware. After updating it and running it, it caught the normal 15 trillion problems but I knew deep down inside that it would not fix this. I then ran Spybot Search and Destroy. Same result. I restarted my computer and still got infection warnings. Crap!!!

I then went to my Windows/system32 folder and sorted the files by date. I found a couple of .exe and .dll files that I tried to erase. Sure enough, they didn’t want to go away which meant they were in use and not for anything good, mind you.

The next thing to do was to start my computer in safe mode (gets the computer basically up but doesn’t load all the extra crap, some of which is the infected files). I went and erased the suspected .exe and .dll files. I ran both Ad Aware and Spybot S&D again (both of which take forever on my monstrous hard drives). I started the computer over and …

Still infected.

My response was not very proper. It rhymed with “suck.”

Now I knew I’d have to go to the next level of extermination: research.

The behavior was that I was getting pop up ads. How this happens I don’t know. I have a router with a firewall. I have a startup monitor. I have a watchdog program. I have Symantec Antivirus that I update and scan every night. I have Google Popup blocker. I keep updated and run Ad Aware And Spybot S&D often.

This was a very advanced program to get through all those defenses. And while I could have seen it as a worthy opponent, I didn’t. I saw it as an intrusion and a source of forced time waste.

I noted that the title bar of the pop up ads I was being served, there was something that said “Aurora – a part of the ABI Network.” OK, I knew who to bomb. Just kidding… where to start.

I found out that “ABI” stands for “A Better Network” and it was a company who supposedly served ads to people who want them. Come on guys, NO ONE wants these ads and especially when they are snuck onto your computer without a way to get them off without drastic measures.

I found a message board that talked about it and gave a few links to places I could go to get it removed. In particular, I found a script that had particular instructions to remove it and while I find it reassuring that this Trojan Horse I had stumbled on was well known, it was a new, rather nasty little bastard and it would cost me some time to rid myself of it.

Here is what it basically had me do: download two free programs (one really free and one that was a trial version). Start in safe mode and run the first one. Then run the second one. Then run Hijack This and get rid of a registry entry. Seemed simple enough, huh?

Well, then you have not been a long-time Jason-Blog reader.

I ran the first one which when unzipped created two files, one of which I was supposed to run but neither of which were named what the instructions told me they should be named. So I took a guess and not much happened, which was what it said would happen. Bad instructions, guys. You don’t tell someone that “nothing will happen” when you perform a step right because if they screwed it up (as I’m known to do from time to time to time to time…) then there is no difference in what happens if you do it right or wrong.

I then started the second program which was nothing more than a scan of my system much like Ad Aware. The problem was that my hard drive is huge and it wanted to run a scan on my backup drive, too. So with this set in motion, I went to do other things while hours passed.

When it finally decided I had had enough, it got done and I ran HiJack This, as asked. I found the registry entry and killed it.

At this point, I was supposed to start the computer in regular mode and everything was supposed to be hunky dory. And you know I just can’t let that happen so for S&G, I ran HiJack This again to see what would happen. As expected, there was no slimy bastard commie shitbag entries from spyware and I was happy. Had I effectively killed this cockroach of a program in one afternoon?

Unbelieving (or maybe just to get the thrill one more time of seeing a clean scan), I ran HiJack This one more time.

Part of me says I should have left good enough alone. The other part of me says that it’s better I found out since not knowing wouldn’t change the fact. A third side says that he likes strawberries and that he wanders if his fist can fit into his mouth. We tend to ignore that side but he takes over when in long meetings.

The entry was back.

Sonofabitchbassbastardfaglovingpieceofdogshitmother

OK, ok, maybe I screwed up the first step by picking the wrong file to run. So I went back and ran both of them. Many times. There, you bastard, did I run the right program THIS time? <yes, that’s both huffy and pissy>

It was getting late so the idea was just to set it into motion and go to bed, secure in the knowledge that I would wake up blissful and once again, fully scanned. Wow, now that sounds both dirty and scary.

I fell asleep mumbling. It bore a striking resemblance to this once again:

Sonofabitchbassbastardfaglovingpieceofdogshitmother




Free Advice for Today:
"Love deeply."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003


Quote of the Day:

"If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place."

- Nora Roberts

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

I Took A crApple

Today was the day. I leaped to the other side (or at least threw a toe over) and I can never claim never to have delved.

Today was iPod day.

It started when Carrie told me that the FedEx man had left a note on the door.

WHY WERE YOU NOT HOME, WOMAN?

That tone did not help matters.

I thought, if I get home, maybe I can get to the FedEx station and get it tonight. I must have it tonight. I must I must I must or the Universe will explode into countless shards of misery and pain.

I got home and looked at the notice. No phone number. It told me to pick it up before 5:00 but didn’t even give an address. Bastards! Who gives a notice to pick something up and doesn’t give THE ADDRESS?!!!

I looked it up on the net but was having a hard time finding the correct place. I was sweating, actually sweating, because I could hear the clock ticking. Tick, tock, tick, friggin’ tock!

Carrie was looking it up in the phonebook but ran into the same troubles as I did. We simply could not do something as simple as find the address to pick it up. And the clock kept going. And I kept sweating.

The dog cowered and the stress floating in the house.

Automated messages. Pressing numbers to get to next menu.

Press 7 if you want to decapitate the inventor of automated menus.

777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777

777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777

77777777777777777777777777777777777777……………………………..

Finally, I found it and Mapquested the address (yes, in my freak out, I went back to Mapquest in a moment of weakness).

And I was off.. squealing (tires, not my mouth).

GET
OUT
OF
MY
WAY
YOU
IDIOTS!!!!!!!!

I had to deal with Route 3. Then I-95. Then Warrenton exit.

I pulled into the parking lot at 4:46. I stopped, calmly wiped the sweat from my brow, and walked in with my ticket.

“Ah, good, you’re still open.”
“It’s only 4:45, you have plenty of time.”
With a plastic smile “Yes, I just wanted to make sure.”
“Ticket?”
“Here you are.”

She disappeared in the back and inside, I’m still all aflutter. Why? My mp3 player dreams are about to be answered.

She was gone too long. Where is she? DAMMIT!!! She should be back by…

“Here we go, sign here, please.”
“Great. Thanks.”

She had no idea I was qualifiedly insane at that moment.

The box seemed too small. It looked tiny. I knew the iPod mini was, well, mini, but this was miniscule.

On the way back home, I tried to open the box at stop lights. It didn’t work. They could send plutonium on these packages. I thought I’d need an acetylene torch when I got home.

DAMMIT!!!

“Did you get it?”
“Yeah.”

I said it in a way that created the widest gap between the internal strife and the outward tone ever created by a human being.

I cleared the papers off the couch and put the box on it, like I was Indiana Jones replacing the gold monkey head with a bag of sand.

Opening it up, I realized how small this thing really is. And how cheap crApple got in thinning out the accessories in order to drop the price. (Yes, I’m going to continue to dump on crApple even though I love my iPod. Deal with the hypocrisy!).

It has not docking station. To charge it up, you plug it into a USB port but you cannot listen to music while you do this and I’m convinced they do this purposely so you will by the accessories to charge and play at the same time.

Cheesy, crApple, very cheesy.

The earbuds were the first to go to the Drawer of Forgotten Electronic Accessories. Yeah, they are iconic but I don’t need white earbuds to tell the world I’m in the iPod club. Hell, I’ll just tap them on the shoulder and shove it in their face with a smug look of my own. Cuz dat’s the way I roll. (sorry, I thug-channeled for a sec there).

It also came with a white crApple sticker. I’m thinking about pasting it on my toilet lid.

I loaded up iTunes which I knew was just another digital music program. Everyone talks about it as though it’s some kind of new concept but it’s just crApple’s version of WinAmp or Media Player. I’ve never had much success with any of these programs, the two I mentioned being the exception but not without a few minor issues. So I wasn’t all that optimistic that I would get all chubby about this one.

After messing around with it, I worked out how to use it and as I predicted, it was a moderate success with a few irritating idiosyncrasies (which ironically is how I would describe myself).

I spent the evening loading up 924 songs. How did I go about this? Well, one of the irritating things about iTunes, and to be fair, a lot of these media organizers, it does not let you filter by the way you have it organized on your computer. In other words, I can’t access it by my file structure I put my songs in on my computer. I have to use their filtering methods and it ends up I had to go song by song… with over 2000 songs!!!

Fine.

Every other MP3 player I’ve had (other than the Rio debacle), I’ve had to be very choosy in what songs I pick and for space considerations, I would down-sample them to fit more on the limited space I had.

So here was my plan: I will just slap any song I find remotely appealing on there and at the end, just shave off ones I can afford to lose until I can fit them onto the player. And since I was working with 4 gigabytes, I didn’t have to down-sample which saved a lot of time and made me feel good that I was getting full quality.

Doesn’t take much, folks.

When I was getting to the end of my “slapping,” I had moments of…

“Am I going to run out of room?”
“Am I gonna get stopped cold at the R’s?”
“Hey, these just may all fit!”

When I got to the end, I was flabbergasted. I picked the last song and the little indicator said I have 4 MB left. Out of all that random choices, 924 choices, it came down to having room for ONE MORE SONG.

Do you see how unlikely that is?

I’m getting geek-shivers just thinking about it right now.

I know, I know, you have to go but one more thing or I’ll forget to tell you.

The interface is cool. I will step out of my deep, unjustified, disproportionate hatred for crApple to offer a little praise.

For those of you that don’t know, the interface for iPod is a circle with flush buttons sensitive to touch. So to scroll (not WID SCROLL BUTT-ONS…) you just run a finger around the circle.

IT IS SO COOL!

And when it’s playing, you do the same to raise or lower the volume. It’s very Star Trektacular and for a guy like me (dork), I like that.

But maybe the best feature so far is the one that instigated the whole iPod craze for me. My old player’s random function was about as random as the Natural Numbers (shout out to all ya’ll geekoids). But the “Shuffle Songs” function on the iPod does the job. It shuffles them like Paris Hilton’s date options.

I think this is going to be the start of a beautiful relationship. And remember the quote from the king in Braveheart?

“The only thing wrong with Scotland is that it’s full of Scots.”

Well, the only thing I’ve found wrong with crApple’s iPod is that it’s made my crApple.

This is the sticker that says "Don't steal music."

OK. If you won't make overall inferior computers.

I got it personalized. Came free. So that means I cannot eBay it down the line and if someone steals it, it just serves to tell them who they juiced.

Crap.

 




Free Advice for Today:
"Never intentionally embarrass anyone."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003


Quote of the Day:

"No arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women."

- Ronald Reagan

Monday, June 20, 2005

Look Fhqwhgadshg... can I just call you Fhqwhgads? Look, Fhqwhgads,...

I'm dumb.

And I like dumb stuff.

Dumb stuff that makes me laugh.

My past dumbness has manifested it self in stuff like OddTodd cartoons, Terry Tate stuff, Stupid Videos, and various blogs that include Christian Finnegan and Charlie.

But now there is a new sheriff in town and he's a total idiot. Right up my alley (I seriously considered changing that line just because of the negative sexual innuendos).

What am I talking about? Why, Strongbad, of course.

Don't get me started on the explanation but suffice it to say that people send email to this character and he makes Flash cartoons of his responses.

The voice is simply addicting.

You gotta watch "I Love You." And then stand by for references I will make such as:

"Look Fhqwhgadshg... can I just call you Fhqwhgads? Look, Fhqwhgads, I'm sorry to say but the feeling's not mutual, mainly because of your long freakin' name!!!!"

"And that's why I like to scroll with scroll butt-uns..."

Look, it's a real "you'd have to see it to understand" kind of situation here so just go take a look.




Free Advice for Today:
"Stop blaming others. Take responsibility for every area of your life."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003


Quote of the Day:

"Politics is not a bad profession. If you succeed there are many rewards, if you disgrace yourself you can always write a book."

- Ronald Reagan

Sunday, June 19, 2005

They Can't All Be Epic

Why do you have to have bad runs? Because they make the good runs that much better. Or so says some optimistic assbag who has never had a bad running day in his miserable life.

What are the chances I had a less-than stellar run today?

Ya think?

In fact, I had not had a good run in awhile and have been skipping the long weekend runs. So what made me think I could just go out and have a 16 miler out of the blue and rainbows and butterflies come streaming outta my ass?
Let me know when you find out.

I got ready and made it out to the course after stopping by work. I had tried to bring home everything I needed from work but discovered yesterday that I accidentally left my running shoes at my office. So I had to make a pitstop there which didn't contribute positively to my mood. In fact, it heaped a bit more piss to the ever-increasing "off" pile I was building.

My second punt into the stands was when I discovered, at the start line, that I comepltely forgot Gu. No, not just didn't bring enough, not "brought the wrong kind", no, friends, just plain completely forgot it altogether. It's not like I've been doing this for years or anythnig. How could I be doing all this for so long and forget the fuel that gets me through these long runs? Again, inform me when you find out.

The fleetingthought occured to me that maybe I can get through this run I'm not mentally or physically ready for without Gu on this sweltering, muggy morning.

Yeah, I was laughing on the inside too so yuck it up.

Everything was going as well as can be expected until about mile 5 when it suddenly hit me that this really sucks. I was not ready. I was having a bad day. It happens.

My revised plan was to just do one lap: eight miles.

Then that got changed to take the shortcut through Application Trail (basically cutting a line straight through the middle of the loop). The trail was the one we would be forced to march from TBS to the rifle range every day for a week (one of the worst at TBS) and I hadn't been on the trail since. So I thought it would be a sort of memory lane trip.

I don't remember so many kamikaze bugs. But I accepted it as the penance being paid for flaking on the run. I even had to walk portions of it and when I came out the other side, I wasn't where I thought I should be. Somehow, I missed a cut-off and ended up on the road leading to the camp.

Yep, that's me.

When I got back to my car, I decided that was enough. I got it, God, message received. A short run and I could get home and surpise my family who is used to me being gone for the entire morning, returning tired, sweaty, and pissy.

I was still pissy. I was not tired. I was not sore. But I was not too happy about it all, either.




Free Advice for Today:
"Show respect for police officers and firefighters."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003


Quote of the Day:

"Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it."

- Ronald Reagan

Saturday, June 18, 2005

The iDie Is iCast

Last week I posted about iPod lust. Today, it came to a head and I broke.

Taking into consideration the cost, the need, my current economic situation, and the cost/benefit analysis, I wrote all that on a piece of paper, studied it, crumpled it up, threw it away, and went online to order a brand spanking new iPod mini.

I opted for the 4 GB model because not only was the price acceptable but the 6 MB model was wholly unjustifiable (for now). Too much money for only 50% more room when I could get 1000 songs on the 4 GB model without even down-sampling. Anyway, I was only allowed to go this far into my insanity cave.

The first thing I tried was to go to eBay (and I’m noticing that a lot of things these days have a lower case first letter and an upper case second letter? wHat’s uP wIth tHat?) and looked through the Buy It Now offerings. I no longer actually bid on anything because I hate getting juiced at the end by some last second bidding bastard.

There were a LOT of iPods on sale. I mean, A LOT! And many of them were “NEW, STILL IN THE ORIGINAL PACKAGING!” For some reason, I got real snobbish and distrustful about all these resellers. Maybe it was the whole RIO Karma fiasco or maybe I’m just becoming very discriminating when it comes to electronics. Or I’m an ass. I dunno, you decide.

Looking over the many choices, I finally realized that it really wasn’t worth it.

Worth not getting it? Come on, don’t be an idiot.

Not worth going through a reseller. Why? Because once you added in shipping and insurance, it was only a few bucks less than ordering it through crApple itself. They were $199 with free shipping and engraving.

So I went for it. Come hither, iPod. Come meet your new daddy.

So now we play the waiting game; a game I’m not very adept at playing. Much like Charile Brown who sent the red-headed girl a valentine, I waited by the mailbox while the order was still in my virtual mailbox to crApple.

… maybe I should download iTunes and get it set up on my computer (don’t be a pitiful geek, Jason, come on!!!)

BTW, anyone get the meaning of my blog post title yesterday?




Free Advice for Today:
"Buy vegetables from truck farmers who advertise with hand-lettered signs."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003


Quote of the Day:

"It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first."

- Ronald Reagan

Friday, June 17, 2005

Not The Doctor

I had the humbling experience of trying to create a resume for the classes I want to teach online. Humbling because the template I used was from a doctor. Here is what I wrote:

Jeff,

First of all, it's probably a bad idea for a guy like me to try to meld a DOCTOR's resume to my qualifications. Let's just say it was a humbling experience and I hope they don't laugh at me. I think my teeth bucked trying to come up with acceptable stuff to put in there.

I'm sending you my attempt at doing the CV. I'd really appreciate some help in this.

The only thing I have published is a couple of stories about marathon running and Marine Corps anecdotes. Nothing academic except my theses from my BA and MA (and I'm not sure that counts as "Published.")

I'd like to talk to you about this and the resume tomorrow if you have the time.

Some random questions:

I have a ton of MCIs from back in my enlisted days. Any use putting that in there? I was also a Quality Assurance Inspector back in my avionics days.

Will I be asked "What do you want to teach?" I ask this because I'm not sure and my answer would be "Whatever you want me to teach." As you had pointed out, I am "officially" qualified to teach anything that deals with my master's degree. I have a course listing on all the classes I took. My strong suites are math, writing, grammar, and web-page design. But I don't have much (OK, any) teaching background in any of these (unless going over math homework with my kids count but I assume that would look silly on the resume). I would love to teach a basic math course or anything introductory on the categories I mentioned, and willing to teach anything that had to do with ITM with the understanding that it would have to be intro. I could get up to speed in no time but I don't know how they would feel about trusting me in that capacity.




Free Advice for Today:
"Allow drivers from out of state a little extra room on the road."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003


Quote of the Day:

"I've laid down the law, though, to everyone from now on about anything that happens: no matter what time it is, wake me, even if it's in the middle of a Cabinet meeting."

- Ronald Reagan

Thursday, June 16, 2005

You Say It's Your Birthday...

Today is my wife's (unintelligible mumbling...)th birthday. You will notice that my daughter's birthday was a few days ago and this is how it is around the Grose household. Also with Father's Day coming up. It's a potpourri of gift-giving. A veritable free-for-all!!!

I got her a card which is more than my two ingrates I call kids got her. OK, maybe that was my bust and yeah, maybe they did make Power Point presentations for her. But where's the gifts you little... oops, yeah, me again.

I took her to linner (or is it dunch?) Whatever it was, it was at about 3:00 in the afternoon and it was her choice. She chose the steakhouse where I had the club but that was offset by the 56 tons of shelled peanuts I ate and the humongous beer-a-tron I downed. Hey, the peanuts made me thirsty!

I also got her a gift certificate for a spa. So there you have it, who's the thoughtless one, now? Take that, kids! What did you get her?

Dammit! I keep forgetting!!!




Free Advice for Today:
"Never ask a woman when the baby is due unless you know for sure that she's pregnant."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003


Quote of the Day:

"The nearest thing to eternal life we will ever see on this earth is a government program."

- Ronald Reagan

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

I'm Melting!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The state... the state... the state is on fire, we don't need Virginia, let the mother... nature is a curious thing. One day it's perfectly cool and the next, my skin is melting off my bones.

That's what happened today when I tried to go out to run and discovered that yes indeed, humans can melt.

What the eff?

Yes I lived in Yuma for many years and yes, I also lived in 29 Palms California for a few years and yes, I served for 7 ½ months in the Arabian desert but this was different. It was H U M I D. Like to an insane degree.

Why is humidity so bad? (stand by for a quick lesson). The body gets hot and to cool itself, it sweats. And all sweat is is water seeping out of your pores. It gets on your skin and then evaporates, taking with it the heat it took to evaporate. So the effect is.. coolness.

But in order for the sweat to evaporate, the outside air must be able to absorb the evaporation (going from a less dry area to a more dry area, trying to create equilibrium). When the humidity kicks up, the water has no place to go and isn't all that interested in jumping into the air which already has water in it.

So it sits there and you feel all sticky. The body says "hey, wait a minute. I poured water out up there and I still feel hot as Satan's balls. Why, I'll just dump more water. You need it for the vital organs? Bah! Send it to the skin!"

The body can be a dumb-ass sometimes.




Free Advice for Today:
"Underestimate when guessing an adult's age or weight."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003


Quote of the Day:

"If we ever forget that we're one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under."

- Ronald Reagan

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

I'm So Glad We Had This Time, Together....

I've had a great time this week but like all good things, it had to come to an end. My wife's brother and family are leaving today and it saddens me.

It's been great having them here and I will miss them all. I'm their favorite uncle, you know.

Their flight left out of Reagan at 0800 so we decided that the best plan was to have me drive them there and then just backtrack to work, rather than Carrie driving them all the way up and having to come all the way back. But what this required was a 0500 departure time from the Grose homestead.

The early hour stung a bit but not as bad as for Scott, Kristine, and the two little ones and they were in for a long day of traveling across the country. Me, all I had to do was make it back to work and start my day.

At least I got to use the HOV lanes but had never used them to get to the airport and didn't know which exit to take, until I saw it sail on by.

Dammit!!!

So yeah, I backtracked and found my way back but it was just the thought of getting lost again. Grrrrrr!




Free Advice for Today:
"Overestimate when guessing someone's salary."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003


Quote of the Day:

"Government is like a baby: An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other."

- Ronald Reagan

Monday, June 13, 2005

Lust, Part 2

I can't.

I mustn't.

But oh, the desire.

I want an iPod mini.

I want a silver one.

4 GB.

$200.

1000 songs.

I know it's crApple. I'm a PC guy. Would such an interracial relationship work? Would people stare? Whisper? Point fingers?

Oh wretched techno-lust!




Free Advice for Today:
"Overpay the neigborhood kid who does yard work for you."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003


Quote of the Day:

"The taxpayer: That's someone who works for the federal government but doesn't have to take the civil service examination."

- Ronald Reagan

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Who's Your Daddy?

Today is my daughter's 11th birthday.

I love my little girl.

I love her pretty girl arms.

I love that she is looking more and more like her mother every day.

I love that she has a strong will.

I love that her tough exterior melts when I go on business trips.

I love that her room is still filled with stuffed animals.

I love that she already knows she wants to be a veterinarian.

I love that her nose is always in a new book.

I love that she still likes to inform me when she finishes a book.

I love that Borders is our favorite place to hang out together.

I love that she wants to practice to play the piano.

I love that she also likes softball.

I love that she prefers water over any other liquid.

I love that she still smells sweet when I kiss her goodnight and in the morning.

I love that her hair curls beautifully when she lets it air dry.

I love that she locks the doors when dressing or in the bathroom.

I love that she gets straight A's on her report card.

Most of all, I love her because her only explanation for my question of why she loves me is, "... because you're my daddy."




Free Advice for Today:
"Occasionally leave a quarter in the change return slot of a pay phone. Somebody always checks."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003


Quote of the Day:

"I have wondered at times about what the Ten Commandment's would have looked like if Moses had run them through the U.S. Congress."

- Ronald Reagan

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Saddest Man On The Planet

Well, folks, it's over. Last night Iron Mike once again and maybe for the final time, got his ass handed to him by a no name slug who found Mike to be even less pitiful than himself.

Years ago, I remember "hearing" about the Tyson fights but since I never had the means to pay to "see" them, all I could do is marvel at the highlight films. And granted, back then he was one bad mamba-jamba. You've seen the footage; fools being knocked out cold before they even hit the mat, collapsing all gangly and ugly as their lifeless bodies crumpled. Tyson was a wrecking machine to be feared and praised for his raw viciousness.

But now... oh, Mike. It is sad, really, to see. And I think the best summation of his troubles is the poll I saw on the Sports Illustrated webpage. It went something like this:

Mike Tyson ceased to be "Iron Mike" once he ...

1. married Robin Givens
2. lost to Buster Douglass
3. did three years in jail
4. bit off Holyfield's ear
5. lost to Kevin McBride

Too bad they didn't have "all the above."




Free Advice for Today:
"Send notes of encouragement to military personnel and college students."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003


Quote of the Day:

"Of the four wars in my lifetime none came about because the U.S. was too strong."

- Ronald Reagan

Friday, June 10, 2005

Lust

I don't exactly know how it happened. I just got sucked in and before I knew it, I was all entangled. I thought I was in control but it became increasingly evident that it had powers over me I could not resist.

Book Lust.

And I'm not talking about run of the mill bibliophilic tendencies. I've known for years that I've been there. I'm talking about books about books.

Yes, lists of books you should read. Tips on getting the most out of books. Strategies to approach your reading in order to benefit the most.

It started when I ran across a book called The Little Guide To Your Well-Read Life. I really enjoyed the book and it gave some good advice. But it had lists of other books which in turn had lists. Do you see how insidious this gets?

Before I knew it, I ordered these four books.

Great Books by David Denby
Book Lust by Nancy Pearl
The Lifetime Reading Plan (3rd Edition) by Clicton Fadiman
Good Reading: A Guide For Serious Readers (23rd Edition) by Arthur Waldhorn, Olga S. Weber, & Arthur Zeiger

Where will it end?




Free Advice for Today:
"Stay on your toes."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003


Quote of the Day:

"The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they're ignorant: It's just that they know so much that isn't so."

- Ronald Reagan

Thursday, June 9, 2005

Arrested Development

I don't know if I mentioned this before but my brother sent me some CDs. I watched the entire first season of 24 and now I'm watching Arrested Development. I know this seems like an odd choice but my brother said it was the funniest show on TV, so much so that he bought the first season and now insists I watch it so we have something to howl at when we talk on the phone.

But he crack-dealered me. I watched the first DVD and of course, fell in love with the show, laughing out loud at times. It really is a funny show.

I'd be hard-pressed to pick out a favorite character. While Portia de Whateverhername is gets points for looks, I'm not a big blond guy but her husband on the show, while hideous, might have a shot as the funniest character. The consummate idiot loser who isn't aware of the fact.

But then I went to open the second DVD case and...wha.... It was EMPTY!!!

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!

He had given me a taste and now I was stuck. I had to get another hit but I didn't want to watch the other episodes because I wanted to watch it in order. So I called him up, properly chastised my older brother, and made him promise to send it right away.

Dammit!!!!!




Free Advice for Today:
"If you are not going to use a discount coupon, leave it on the shelf with the product for someone else to use."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003


Quote of the Day:

"The most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help."

- Ronald Reagan

Wednesday, June 8, 2005

I'm Surrounded

Last night, my brother-in-law paid a little visit to Best Buy and Circuit City. You see, he's visiting and his job is putting in high-end audio and video equipment into rich people's houses. So he knows his stuff and I've been waiting a long time for him to come and visit so that he can help me put a decent system in. And to see my niece and nephew, of course. I'm their favorite uncle you know.

And why did I wait? Because for the last two Christmases, my wife and I have wanted to get a surround sound system but each time we went, we were faced with a wall of choices ranging from the very cheap to the "oh my God, you have to be kidding me" price range.

Choosing a system with Scott was a little different. I knew he knew. It's his job. He's "that guy" that I know who knows about these things. And I know I know more about the intricacies of nuclear fission than audio so I had a firm grasp of who to turn to for this.

We looked at everything and was not too impressed. He fiddled, he faddled, and I looked on knowingly. "Hmmmm, I tend to agree. Good show, old man!" (in a faux British accent for some unknown reason.)

"How much do you want to spend?"

"I dunno," came my educated answer.

Then he let forth a string of explanations that made my gallbladder hurt to which I mustered my highly evolved grey matter and stated,

"Me want sound. Surround. Good sound. You make happen."

With my detailed requirements now explained, he indicated that none of these were very good and we should go to Circuit City. The tough part we were having was that I didn't want a DVD player with it. Just the sound system. And I definitely didn't want the 5 DVD changer.

Why?

Why does this exist? Does anyone really NEED to load 5 DVDs at once? A CD changer, I understand. You just let the music play and you can even go random. But a DVD? You really want me to believe that you are going to sit through 10 straight hours of movies and that you can't be inconvenienced to take the DVD out and put in a new one? It might be the only exercise you get, other than getting more snacks , you lazy bastards!

Why, also, does that piss me off? These are questions that may never be answered.

Once there, we found a great system that was about $500. When we asked Pimply Face High School "Associate" Kid if they had any in stock, he, of course, didn't know. When I gave him the "well, go forth and check, young stallion!" look, he was off to the warehouse.

I don't want to go into the technical details, mainly because I would make a complete fool of myself, but the gist of it is this. The display model was one iteration back from what they had in stock. The new one was a 7.1 Surround Sound System as opposed to the measly 6.1 Surround Sound System on display. I COULDN'T get the 6.1 if I knew the 7.1 was in existence, now could I?

I tentatively asked how much the new and improved system cost.

"Same price."

And because I'm a complete idiot, I had to spew forth with...

"How can you add a speaker and it be newer and yet have the same price?"

The answer was foreseeable and oddly familiar.

"I dunno."

On Scott's request, I played my "ASS" card and made them bring me out the other box (they only had two in stock) which required a big cart. The one he brought out looked damaged (cardboard mangled on one side).

Along with the system, I apparently needed a bunch of cables. Do you know how much cables cost? Somewhere in the "too much" range. But I was in for a penny, in for a pound at this point and it was pretty far away from the penny zone. But I needed this, a bit of that, a few of those, and a smattering of these thingamajigs. All tolled, it was creeping toward $700.

I didn't exactly tell Carrie how much I was going to spend, mostly because I didn't know myself. So when I got home, I decided to play it this way:

"How much did you think I was going to spend, Honey?"

With a worried look, she said, "About $300. Why?! How much?"

"Double it."

So I'm waiting for my balls to drop back down....

Scott hooked up the tangle of wires in the back and not only did he fix the surround sound and tune it up for me, he also re-routed the cables to give HD-quality to my DVDs. When he was done, we sat and watched most of The Incredibles, mesmerized by the sound and picture quality. I now have a movie theater downstairs.

When we played the THX exploding globe thing and turned it way up, I almost gave old Buster a heart attack. Poor thing jumped out of his skin and then barked his fool head off.

Meanwhile, I think I peed a little.




Free Advice for Today:
"Become a serious student of American history."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003


Quote of the Day:

"Here's my strategy on the Cold War: We win, they lose."

- Ronald Reagan

Tuesday, June 7, 2005

Clari-NOT

Today, my brother-in-law and his family traveled all the way from Seattle to visit us in Virginia. They took the redeye flight, flew all night, and showed up early this morning. Wow, quite a trip for a couple with a 5-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son. I bet I would have handled it with grace and patience. (stop laughing!)

I, of course, am known as their favorite uncle and I have no qualms about announcing this fact every chance I get which happens to be about every hour on the hour. I mean how can I not? Look at these two!!!

Tonight also happened to be the night that my own little girl had her last chorus concert of the year. She's been joyfully going in early to school to practice chorus during the weeks and actually enjoys all the singing so that fact, along with the whole "good father" role, I made plans to sit with a Prozac smile on my face through a bunch of grade-schoolers singing.

This was a very dangerous situation because Scott, my brother-in-law, and I have a very bad track record together. We tend to crack each other up at the most inopportune times so are often kept apart at important social functions. This is a good thing but did not occur for this occasion.

The first sign that things were going to go less than perfect was the list of songs on the handout we got on the way in. There were two pages of them and I was stunned that they were going to perform so many. This would take hours and I don't know if my Prozac smile would hold up that long.

Not all of it was singing, I discovered. It was also a concert for the band so they had some singing, a buttload of band offerings, and some more singing at the end. This, I suppose, was to keep the parents of the singers in place until the bloody end. Nicely played, chorus/band teacher, nicely played.

The singing wasn't too bad and everything was fine until they introduced the band with a transition that only little kids can manage. When all the kids were in place, the teacher started up with a flair, holding his conductor's stick (whatever you call it) and started his gyrations with gusto.

The reaction was simply horrid.

First, Snare Drum Kid was workin' the skins like a rock star, to the point that it drowned out almost everything. This would have been the lesser of two horrors but instead, the only thing it DIDN'T drown out was the clarinets.

Imagine a wounded hippo giving birth to a fully grown T-Rex... out its ass.

That's about what it sounded like. God bless their little hearts, they were trying but somehow, each kid found a slightly different key until every key was found except the right one.

It was about here that Scott and I completely lost it. I could not look over at him because I knew it was coming but that didn't stop my peripheral vision. It was just a matter of time and that time had come: we both started shaking all over, unsuccessfully trying to hide our deep-seated laughter at the atrocious sounds emanating all around us.

Of course, this attracted derisive stares from everyone, not the least of which was our respective wives. But if you could have heard what was going on, what travesty of sound was being perpetrated....

I really kind of felt sorry for the teacher. I mean he's been working with these kids all year and while I don't expect a symphonic performance from 1st year, grade school kids, I had to believe that it had to hurt to hear a year's worth of work come down to the sound of a bus full of instruments falling down a cliff.

I assume a stiff shot of vodka that night was on the menu.




Free Advice for Today:
"Seek refinement rather than fashion."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003


Quote of the Day:

"Don't ignore the yesterdays of war in your study of today and tomorrow."

- Douglas Southall Freeman, Historian

Sunday, June 5, 2005

Coming Home, Listening To A Good Book

Today was a good day of driving. That’s sounds strange coming from me because driving is not my favorite way to spend a day but the weather was great, the scenery was beautiful, and I didn’t have anywhere to be other than getting home. That’s the kind of lack of pressure that I can handle.

The Pennsylvania countryside is gorgeous once you lift the veil of darkness and subtract the fog and rain. I found myself appreciating the wide-open roads and the spectacular sights.

My body was not all that adverse to sitting and relaxing all day either. You might falsely believe that being cramped up in a car all day after a marathon would suck but the repair process is happy to have you sit still as long as you stop every once in awhile to stretch the legs and move the pooling lactic acid around your system. And drink lots of water. And not run. That's a bonus.

I also had John Adams to keep me company. How could this be, you ask? Books on tape, baby.

I first starting this while going to college as a result of hours of commuting time each day. I listened to quite a few and picked the habit back up last year when I first got to Virginia. But then I started reading on the train and since Truckasaurus has no tape deck, I couldn’t even listen to anything on the way to the station.

After we got the Pilot, I was driving the Saturn to the train and therefore could listen to books on tape again. I have a stack (that I constantly have to keep renewing because I can’t get through my selection in the allotted two weeks) of them that I listen to and the latest is John Adams.

I’m learning some interesting things like he was the first Vice-President and the second President. That his son was also a President (John Quincy Adams) and that he suffered from self-doubt.

There is a lot more to talk about with 16 hours on 21 cassettes but I won’t put you through that. I’ll just say that I feel like I’m learning a lot and it’s a way to squeeze in more books in a lifetime while making the hours on the road go by less stressful and more quickly.

Check into it. You can get them free at the library.




Free Advice for Today:
"Let your handshake be as binding as a signed contract."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003


Quote of the Day:

"You read about all these terrorists — most of them came here legally, but they hung around on these expired visas, some for as long as 10 -15 years. Now, compare that to Blockbuster; you are two days late with a video and those people are all over you. Let's put Blockbuster in charge of immigration."

- Unknown

Saturday, June 4, 2005

Running Up Mountains

Like every single marathon I've run, it started with an alarm. It's always early, too early. But I had an extra little bonus to contend with on this auspicious day: I had all of about 4 ½ hours of sleep.

For those of you that know me, you will understand. Go ahead, get the gasps out of the way.

Yes, folks, I like sleep like Oprah likes applause. I just can't ever seem to get enough so 4 ½ hours to me is like a catnap before a marathon. After driving for too many hours last night. I know, not ideal.

Further along the miracle trolley, I shouldn't have even woke up then. I set two alarms just in case, one being the hotel clock and one being my watch. I SET the motel clock but I didn't exactly TURN ON the hotel clock alarm. Yes, I went through the trouble of setting the hour and minute of the alarm, made sure it was on AM and that (by this time) the current time was correctly AM, and then brilliantly set it down without the least bit of thought to actually turn the alarm on.

THIS is why you go for two alarms: to head off wholesale assheadedness.

Somewhere in the recesses of my mind was a beeping... far off... almost dreamily.

"Why is something beeping? Oh, if it's my watch, why didn't the motel alarm go off? SHIT!"

First thoughts complete.

I had taken the time to get everything ready like I always do so all I had to do was stumble toward the shower, fall into my clothes, and get out the door. All this was accomplished with minimal effort, culminating in my eating the last slice of cold pizza for a good luck gluttony-fest. Hey, I needed the carbs!!!

Normally, I despise "Continental Breakfasts." Why? Now this is really silly but it is because it's free. For some reason I think that it has to cost something to be worth something. Irrational, I know, but nevertheless, that's the way I'm wired.

But today, it was OK because I could down a little cup of yogurt (didn't HAVE to mix it becaue it was pre-mixed), a banana, and a small cup of coffee for the hopefully, uh, evacuation effects before the race. Remember, people, I downed an entire medium pizza in the last 8 hours and in some state, it was still in me.

I drove to the high school where they were bussing us to the start line. This way, we would be "running back" to where we started, or ended. You know what I mean.

I got on the bus and it was obviously for little kids so my knees were crammed into the seat in front of me. The only thing that interrupted my normal standoffishness of having my headphones on was a volunteer coming on the bus and welcoming us to the race. He also warned us to keep all arms, legs, and other body parts inside the bus at all times and that last year, someone had thrown out a water bottle. This caused the local police to pull the bus over and the race was delayed by a half hour.

Can you imagine how embarrassing that would be for the offender? And how much of an ass do you have to be to pull a school bus over, especially knowing that this marathon was the biggest thing that happens in the place all year. It's not like the cop didn't know. Yeah, yeah, public safety, yadda yadda. I don't want to hear it, Chris.

We got to another school in Galeton where we offloaded and headed to the bathrooms. Grown men waiting not-so-patiently in line for the crapper. It was quite a sight and more than a little pressure when you occupied one of the two stalls. Never had my natural functions been under such scrutiny because it was a regular stall. Something about actually being able to see the person's feet and knowing when he sat, stood up, etc. caused the kind of pressure you didn't want and that didn't exist with the normal run-of-the-mill port-a-potties.

The great thing about this race was that they had a lot of Gu. I am a Gu guy and train with the stuff without fail. So when they announced that there would be Gu at miles 5, 10, 15, and 20, I was thrilled. Five mile increments was exactly what I trained with so it was ideal. Plus, they had water stations every mile. Let me restate that: EVERY MILE!!!! Oh, this was just plain being spoiled.

I milled around trying not to be nervous and trying to shut off the voice that was telling me I had not trained enough for this race. The weather was overcast and cool. All signs pointed toward a good race and I was more relaxed that I had been at the start line in a long time. The Voice was turned off and I was ready to race.

Everything was going fine for the first 8 miles. I was clocking some good speeds and nothing was bothering me when I came up to another runner. The field was pretty spread out, not because of my speed but because of the number of people running it so coming up to another runner was a mini-event.

She said something to me and I felt obligated to take out my earphones to see what she said and I was really glad I did.

"Only 9 miles to go!"

Nine miles? Was this lady crazy?

"Nine miles until what?"

"Then it goes downhill."

(Needle scratches record and then silence.)

"You mean to tell me that this road goes uphill for 17 miles?"

"Yeah, but then the last 8 are downhill."

Great, like a full body massage 10 minutes after the time of death.

I guess this is what they meant by "Conquer the Mountain." I gotta start reading the fine print before I sign up for these damn things!!!!

As she scooted ahead of me when I ducked into the bathroom at mile 10, I was glad that she had told me the layout of the course. She also gave me a little nugget of intel that I was very grateful for: the last mile of the 17 mile ascent was very steep. OK, I had my mental map and now all I had to do was execute. (Maybe I should use a different term there.)

Knowing that the course would go uphill up to mile 17 somehow made it better. I can't imagine what would be going through my mind if I hadn't known. Probably something both vulgar and nearly unintelligible, I'm sure. But this didn't mean it wasn't devoid of challenge.

I hit the halfway point at 1:53 which was way faster than a sub-4 hour finish time. That got me excited because I started thinking that yeah, I'd slow down due to the distance but at the same time, it would be downhill and if I could clock that kind of pace going uphill, then going downhill I should at least be able to match that. It was one of the few moments I let myself think about time and pace. The rest of the time was just concentrating on keeping a rhythm, relaxing, and trying not to crap my running shorts.

The 17th mile was no joke. What I didn't know is that at the top, there was a ski resort so you do the mental image. I felt like I was a cripple walking up a flight of stairs. It was just pitiful.

I got to the top and if I would have had anything left to celebrate with, I would have hooped and hollered. As it was, I kind of just grunted and whimpered.

As promised, the road snaked downhill and my legs suddenly came back to life. In fact, they got really excited about the whole situation and I found myself falling down the mountain at an incredible pace. With my toes slamming to the front of my shoes, I must have been doing 7 minute miles. It was just so easy and after 17 miles of uphill drudgery, the body just kind of took over and said "You know what? We're going to run for awhile."

For the second time, I started doing math. I didn't say I was doing it well, but I was doing it. After a few attempts (a fact that I find depressing) I came up with the calculation that I would only have to do 9-minute miles to crack 4 hours.

Then I put it out of my mind. Just run, Jason, for God's sake, JUST RUN!!

The memories run together but at some point I felt like pushing it to stay up with the pace. At another point I told myself to just run and let the time take care of itself, I'd make it. Then it would turn to a conviction that I would not make it, that I would burn out. Then it would start over.

The turning point came when it leveled out and I hit a small (now HUGE) uphill. Breaking my rule for the third time, I calculated that I would have to clock 8 minute miles for the last hour. I think that's what did it.

Suddenly, I was engulfed by the Wall. I slowed way down and started taking unscheduled walking breaks. Dammit!!!

I know what caused this and how to fix it. I always said that the first 20 miles are run with your legs and the last 6 are with your heart but let me update that assessment: the last 6 miles also have a lot to do with brute strength. I think the first 20 miles have a lot to do with long training runs but the last 6 have to do with weight training; the raw strength in the muscle that it takes to push through those last 6 miles. Combined with the heart to extract that strength is the "heart" it takes but if you didn't make the investment (as I didn't) to get into the gym and boost up that raw strength, well, you'd end up where I was at.

It only got better when I accepted that I was not going to break 4 hours. Like all marathons, I found myself in the company of others that were fighting similar battles. We urged each other to get to the finish line and that it was almost over but your concentration swayed between their plight and your internal battles.

The last mile was... the last mile. I've put it many ways but usually fall into the category of "I can die at the end" and "this shit has got to get over like real quick." So I pulled my bootstraps up and started clocking a pace that was not only acceptable anywhere in the race but rather impressive at this point. I passed about 3 people in that last mile because I was almost at a dead sprint, not exactly knowing where the end was because they wound the end around the downtown area and I didn't know if the next corner was the final stretch or not. I only had to deal with two false finish lines until I saw the real one and sprinted across in 4:07:11, the second best marathon finishing out of now 12 attempts. Like all finishes, I felt a combination of emotion and relief. I did it. Again. Finishing what only 1/10 of 1% of humans ever accomplish.

Stumbling around like Bambi on ice, I got my tiny medal and went over to the snack table. Downing another water, some fruit, a Gatorade, and one bite of bagel (which was like bubble gum in my dehydrated mouth) I hung around the area for a little bit waiting for them to post the times. Knowing I wasn't going to be getting any kind of award other than the one I got, I decided to make my way back to the hotel room.

I know that completing a marathon is its own reward but there is something inherently depressing about not having anyone there for you when you finish. I returned to the room where I had left a few hours before and the only differences was that I was shredded and the bed was made. Other than that...

I took a shower and decided that sleep was in order. For three hours, I tossed, turned, sweat, and repeated. At least I didn't cramp but I woke up soaking wet and decided another shower was in order before I went to dinner.

Here was my thought process: I would be too tired and worn out to attempt an 8 hour drive after the marathon so I will stay in town that night and maybe meet up with other marathoners and we could all tell our stories over a celebration dinner somewhere.

I had blown the whole "making plans" with anyone because of my pre-marathon stodginess and post-marathon haste to get back to the room and sleep. "Oh well" I thought "Maybe I'll run into someone out in town."

Here is where I had seriously miscalculated on two points. First, that the other marathoners would be staying in town after the marathon. Second, that there would be a place for marathoners to gather, eat, share, celebrate, etc. In my idealized view, I would find a place replete with happy post-marathoners celebrating the day's events, welcoming me with open arms and eager to hear my revelry.

OK, everyone left. And by "everyone" I mean EVERYONE. I think some of the locals were not even around and by my estimates, there likely wasn't more than a few hundred of those on their best day. I might have been the only marathoner still in the area and that's no exaggeration.

On top of that, the place was seriously lacking in any restaurants. I went up and down the only road in town and other than McDonalds (which represented the ONLY major chain), everything else was taverns.

Well, maybe Galeton, 26 miles away, has something plus this would give me the chance to see the course I ran today. So I drove all the way back and much like Coudersport, there was no restaurants. Criminy!

So I headed back and finally settled on a tavern about ¼ mile from my hotel. I was so hungry by this point that I was willing to eat a horse steak. With worm fries.

Walking into the "café" I realized it was really just a bar and in fact, a bar that had been created by knocking down the walls of 3 or 4 hotel rooms. There was only one table full of people who not only had NOT run the marathon, but were the kind of people who would ask how long the marathon was. And why I'd want to run it.

I bellied up to the bar and after a minute, the one waitress/bartender who was smoking a cigarette with the cook at the other end of the bar when I entered, came over and asked me what I would like.

"A room full of lactic-acid suffering post-marathoners, please."

Actually, I ordered a beer and a T-bone steak and she told me that it would be awhile because the big table had already ordered. Great, I'd just sit there and read the book I brought, sipped my beer, and waited to be fed. Moo.

After I was done I got on the deserted street once again and headed back to my room where I continued to read my book until I had the brilliant idea that a McFlurry would be the greatest thing in the entire world.

Once again, I got on the deserted streets and headed toward the Golden Arches. I couldn't decide between M&Ms or Oreo but my conundrum was solved when the high school kid informed me that all they had was small so that enabled me to get both. I know, but I was in a celebratory mood with all the craziness going on around me, I just kind of lost my sense.

Is there any more pitiful sight than me sitting in a hotel room alone with two McFlurrys reading a book and trying to ignore the fact that my body was severely pissed off at me?

Yeah, that's the thought that was racing through my head, too.




Free Advice for Today:
"Give handout materials after your presentation, never before."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003


Quote of the Day:

"How is it one careless match can start a forest fire, but it takes a whole box to start a campfire?"

- Unknown

Friday, June 3, 2005

Destination Pennsylvania

The best laid plans ... get totally screwed 15 ways to Sunday.

The plan was: get out of work early and get on the road to Pennsylvania, which was a good plan until I got snagged for a meeting at 1:00 PM. The revised plan was to get on the road by 3:00 PM and then get in by 10:00 PM. Even that had high suck-potential.

Well, the meeting started late and went long. Why? Because it was a meeting of course, complicated further by being on a Friday afternoon. So of course it started late and ran long. Why wouldn’t it?

I got out of there in a hurry, stopped by the store to get the requisite travel snacks, also known as “just about anything my gut desired” but of which I am too embarrassed to list here in the blog. Let’s just say the collection would not show up on any serious marathoner’s race-eve menu.

The first (of many) snags I ran into was Friday night Washington DC traffic. How should I describe this…. hmmmm… how about “heinous”? I really thought that since I was going the opposite way of rush hour traffic, I could sail right through. I didn’t even get to dog-paddle. This cost me about an hour and my mood flip-flopped many times, normally when I would think about how late I was going to get into town and how few hours I was going to have to sleep prior to this little marathon thing. No big deal, just 4 straight hours of running. Bah!

I figured that I needed to eat on the road and the normal choice was some sort of pasta. Have you ever tried to get pasta on the road? Not existent or not pretty, take your pick. Then it hit me: pizza. It has all the carbs, all the protein, cheese, and all the fat disgusting grease one could hanker for. Plus, it’s easily edible on the road while driving. Could there be anything more perfect? (That's a rhetorical question so for all you pervs out there, stop it!)

Lesson: there is never a pizza joint anywhere near when you really need one. I finally found a “Rocky’s Pizzeria” way back in the woods somewhere and ordered me up a 14 inch pie with beef. Sounds easy enough, right? Well, it seemed like a tall order for the local pizza joint employees in the general Pennsylvania area. Despite it being a PIZZA-themed restaurant, it took them about an hour to put together one for me and I was not amused.

If you are keeping track, we are now at an hour past step-off time, an hour in traffic, and an hour to get a pizza. Things were shaping up beautifully.

There is an art to eating pizza while driving. I mean I deserve some kind of award or something because I was giving a stellar performance, swerving only a few times and only once hearing the reverberations of my tires running over the warning grates on the side of the road. Stellar. And considering the open box with the A/C vents pointing at it (to cool it fast and prevent soldering the inside of my mouth) was steaming up the windows, I think "spectacular" wouldn't be an exxageration in this case. Maybe even "epic"!

Time was ticking away and I was starting to get worried. By the time it got dark, I was entering the serious hills of Pennsylvania and the road started winding up, down, and around what I assume to be some areas I really didn’t want to go off road for fear of careening to my death. Then the fog started in and I had the mother of all driving conditions: tired, dark, foggy mountain roads. Let’s just throw a bit of rain in the mix just to complete the mood.

Going 30 miles per hour when you can’t see 20 feet in front of you through the dark woods was fun. A veritable barrel of laughs. At one point I thought I might have made a wrong turn so I stopped. Getting out of the car to make a, um, personal pitstop, I got a little spooked. I realized I was way, way, WAY out in the middle of the woods so of course I heard things going bump in the night and looking back at the car, I realized that the headlights were giving off the absolute only light. I was in complete darkness except for my little magic life support system in the form of a Saturn. Wow, what a shitty little realization.

The fog and roads cost me another hour so at about 1230, I rolled into Coudersport (from a direction I had not expected, having abandoned the Yahoo! Maps directions and depending on the road signs by this point.). Keeping with my usual mode, I had to go see where I’d be going to in the morning so after checking into my room, I drove the few miles I would take in just a few hours to get to the start line. Well, not the start line but actually the finish line. We would meet at the finish line and they would bus us to the start where we would run back.

By 0100, I was in bed, having laid out all my clothes so all I would have to do was to hop up, dress, and get out the door.

Not the usual night before the marathon but not altogether a strange one. They are all filled with stress, I had just never pushed the arrival time this close where it would dust most of the sleep I would need. Good thing I’d have adrenaline to carry me through in the morning.




Free Advice for Today:
"Buy a red umbrella. It's easier to find among all the black ones, and it adds a little color to rainy days."
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003


Quote of the Day:

"Politics is supposed to be the second oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first."

- Unknown

Wednesday, June 1, 2005

Come Off It Neal!!!

Neal Armstrong is all pissed off because his barber sold some of his hair clippings for $3000. When I first read this, yeah, it was unsat. I mean, come on, how cheesy is selling someone's cut hair, not to mention how scary is it that someone would buy it?

But then I got to thinking. Neal's being an ass. Not about the hair thing, about the whole celebrity thing. He rarely grants interviews and shuns any fame he gets for what he did. I agree that some people shamelessly hang on to their celebrity and use it for all it's worth, and then some.

But he was the first freakin' man on the moon!!! Of all the billions and billions of people that have ever existed, he was the FIRST to set foot n a foreign body. And if you are that person, I'm sorry but you are going to be famous and known for all time. When you accepted the mission, you should have taken into account that you would forever be enshrined in the human consciousness as one of the most famous people who ever lived. It's human nature.

He took the mission. And now he denies the public their hero.

This really pisses me off. Step up, Neal. The public deserves their hero and opportunity to see a piece of living EARTH history. No other generation will be able to say they shook the hand of the first human being that ever walked on the moon and it's almost tragic to think that so many people were denied just because you refused to grant them such a magnificent gift.




Free Advice for Today:
"Pay the extra money for the best seats at a play or concert."
- 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/