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 have a month worth of blogs that I've kept up with while
on vacation and devoid of connectivity for the most part.
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.
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.
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.
come live in the past with me...
of the Day:
times don't last but tough people do.”
July 27, 2005
consider myself in pretty good shape. Not great, but better
I run marathons and yes,
I do the training necessary but I always feel that I could
be farther along the scale (and lower, if you know what I
it always amazes me that for a person who is in decent if
not above-average shape, I can get so sick, so fast.
night, I started sweating just watching a movie. This morning
when I awoke, I felt warm and clammy. I got up, went to work,
and it just didn't get any better. By lunch time, I realized
that I had only got 5 hours of sleep and that I probably needed
double that. I could not deny it any longer: I was sick.
I got in the car to go to lunch with Carrie, I said, "Feel
normal to me."
I should be freezing. I had the fan blowing air conditioned
air right on me. I should be cold to the touch. The 'normal'
you feel is actually a fever."
we went out in the heat and ate lunch.
back to work, the symptoms started multiplying. Dizziness,
nausea, fever, lethargy. I told my boss I was going to medical
and tied up loose ends at work.
medical, I talked to the desk nurse and she said I could sit
there and wait but it would be 1 to 2 hours before I saw a
doctor and even then, they would likely just send me home.
So I thanked them and decided self-medication and some rest
was the way to go.
home, I was a mess. In one fluid motion, I stripped off my
soaking wet shirt and all my other clothes on the way to my
bed. That's all I remember for 3 hours.
negative thoughts cross my mind on race day. When I
look into their eyes, I know I'm going to beat them.”
July 26, 2005
Hope It's Assexual
I'm not a great looking man. I don't even consider myself
particularly handsome. But compared to the train population,
I'm prime rib, baby.
is not a statement about myself, only about the people I see
on the train so ding me for being shallow but I got pushed
over the edge today.
sat in my normal spot with the little table with the same
hope that I could get through the two stops between mine and
my destination without anyone wanting the other side. This
rarely happens but I can hope, can't I?
was no different except the example of human/gnome cross-pollination
that slumped into the seat across from me. This may sound
harsh and it is but I just couldn't help at marvel at the
startling ugliness of this woman.
it was just her size, so be it. People are fat. Hell, I'm
not svelte as I want to be by any stretch of the imagination
so no big deal. But what caught my soon-to-be watering eye
was when she placed her arms on the table.
were hairier than Mel Gibson's. Like Robin Williams-level;
big course hairs against doughy white skin. I felt my stomach
turn a little.
OK, I hear what you are saying; people can't help these things.
I know, I know and maybe she is a working single mother or
a cancer patient or something so I'm going to hell for being
disgusted by her. But then, while I was trying to ward off
this shallow judgment running through my head, she pulls out
a BIG bag of McDonalds.
came the hash browns. OK, no big deal. It's a pseudo-breakfast
Sasquach downed it in like two bites.
came out the Egg McMuffin, and into the cavern it went.
Bertha. For crissakes, say moo or something.
you DO know you weigh like 300 pounds, right? And you DO know
you are downing Mickey D glutton-buttons like they're Tic
Tacs, right? You do realize that these things make you
FAT. I mean, I'm over here trying not to judge, trying to
give you the benefit of the doubt that you have some medical
problem that prevents you from keeping the pounds off but
then you turn into a deep-fried breaded Crisco-ball vacuum
cleaner right here two feet in front of me.
it, Jason, you have been known to devour more than a few Krispy
Kremes at a sitting.
but I don't do it in public. I HIDE my shame. And I run a
bazillian miles to pay my penance for such weakness. Something
tells me Bessie here hasn't seen the business end of even
a trot since Ho-Hos went on sale down the street.
get control of myself and try to ignore her. After all, it
was just a hash brown and Egg McMuffin and despite her eating
it like it was crack and that it was from the single most
horrid fat-factory on the planet, it WAS a weak facsimile
of a breakfast.
when I thought it was over, she pulls out to coup de gras.
two-foot Slim Jim.
have GOT to kidding me.
me, tell me oh Faticus Maximus, that you are NOT tearin' open
a Slim Jim at 0800 in the morning. And not just the
normal one, a big monster Costco-version that looked like
the trunk of a small tree.
but she was. For all to see. Ignoring the fact she has beastly
arms hairier than mine, ignoring that she's busting springs
out of scales, ignoring that she is uglier than the sediment
at a sewage treatment plant.... You gotta help me, lady. You
cannot continue to be utterly revolting in every aspect and
expect me not to cringe in your presence.
she doesn't care what other people think so I'm gonna comment.
If she did, she wouldn't share with the public her grazing
don't know why I can't lose weight."
for the love for all that is good in this world, wear long
sleeves! You don't see me wearing half shirts, do you?
done. (drops mic)
Advice for Today:
you are going to buy a car, leave your good watch at home."
was a record-setting day for heat. OK, maybe not of all time
but it might have set the record for how much suck the weather
can cause relating to underwear stickiness.
temperature was a high of 99. But with the heat index was
115. What does this mean? The difference between 99 and 115?
It really doesn’t matter to me all that much.
it’s only 99 degrees.”
“Yes, but the HEAT INDEX is 115.”
a 115 friggin degrees! Don’t give me this bullshit about
only 99 but feels 115. If it FEELS 115, guess what, Sparky?
IT’S 115 DEGREES!
drove to work and it was in the 70s by early morning as I
scampered into my air conditioned office where I stayed giving
wistful looks out the window all morning wondering if the
glass was going to melt any time soon. Before I knew it, it
was time to venture to the gym.
to run, you say?
that! I’m going to the gym where it’s air conditioned,
where I can sweat in relative coolness. What kind of schmuck
do you think I am? (Don’t answer that, even with a question
about how many varieties there are!!!)
admit, this was a “Return To The Nest” day at
the gym which meant I was not to work out all that hard but
gently ease back into the concept of pushing my body. In A/C.
end result was that I sweat more coming to the gym and walking
back to the office than I did at the gym. But boy did I look
like I worked hard coming back into the building.
that Captain Grose really tests his limits. Did you see the
amount of sweat he had on his forehead? Why, it’s 99
degrees outside, but FEELS like 115, ya know.”
most Jason-Gets-Irritated-At-Everything moment today
was in the form of the “worker” at the gym. I
had been gone a month so I was hyper-aware of any changes
around the gym as I saundered up to the gear check out desk
where I get my towel.
there is a civilian worker obviously enthralled in his phone
conversation, slumped in a position I can only attribute to
his melting or removal of any skeletal material in his entire
stand there for a moment, receiving no reaction from below
his sideways cocked baseball cap and toothpick.
do I get the towels now?” was my eventual query
that obviously interrupted a very intense listening session
since he had not uttered a word.
looking up, he pulled out his toothpick and pointed to his
right. Suppressing my desire to grab and shove said toothpick
clear up his ass, my eyes followed his rude indication where
I found a sign that informs me that due to the cost of missing
towels and budgetary cuts, towel service was discontinued
on July 15th.
Jelly Belly here is now responsible for……?
it’s to wipe down that brand new wooden counter in the
middle of the gym. That must have cost a pretty penny with
its hand-made, inlaid wooden craftsmanship. This impressive
specimen’s function is… help me out here…
I know there must be a use for a long wooden bar-like counter
sitting in the middle of the gym.
it has something to do with that flatscreen wall-mounted LCD
television behind it that flashes nothing but info about the
gym. Advertisement for the gym … that you are in? To
… attract … people … that are already ….
in … the………….gym…….??????
now I’m towelless and I swear that if I get any grief
about this from ANYONE in the actual gym for not having a
towel, I’m going to the brig.
first thing I do is a little stretching, i.e. don’t
commit to anything strenuous and try not to talk yourself
out of just calling it quits before it begins (returns to
the gym after long absences really bite ass.)
go over to the mat to start my delay tactic and look down
to see people. Not really people, but sweat people
(not "butt-sweat people", come on!) Actually not
people at all, just the shape of people made out of sweat
all over the mats, so I guess “sweat angels”.
A sweaty group of people had just done something rather nasty
on these mats and there was nowhere on the entire mat that
was devoid of massive amounts of sweat.
this no-towel concept is really working out.
can hear you. Half of you are saying,
on, Jason, stop being such a puss. You are supposed to get
sweaty, it’s a gym for crissakes. Sweat is sweat. Jump
in and get with the program!”
other half: “Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!!!!!”
with you, Other Half. I mean, I’m all for sweating but
I’ll stick (ewwwwwww) with my own.
I went to the sit-up room and used a dry mat. Prissy? Maybe
but I kept to my own sweat. It’s kind of a rule I have.
Rocky hugging Adrian after the fight? Yeah, gave me the willies.
last point is that while I was there in the gym, I saw a record
use of paper towels formerly used only to wipe down machines.
Now, the baskets were full of them and people were using them
like Kleenex to wipe their sweat off.
last thought as I exited the gym was how much more they are
going to pay in paper towels than if they had towels. It adds
up and I wouldn’t be surprised if they take an overall
loss. Then there’s increased wear and tear on the machines
as salty sweat is left on them in increasing amounts: sweat
that would be properly absorbed by towels.
who am I to expect TOWELS provided by a HEALTH FACILITY?
Advice for Today:
year, buy an extra box of Girl Scout cookies."
woods are lovely dark and deep, but I have promises
to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to
go before I sleep.”
July 24, 2005
ANOTHER Trip To The Chocolate Factory
with the Willy Wonka. This time it was to see the latest movie
yet again with my daughter. The rest of the family decided
to tag along so my wife and daughter got a taste of it. Taste.
Get it.. ahem.
best moment was a particularly dramatic scene when Charlie
opened up one of the chocolate bars that potentially had a
whole theater was on edge (even me despite I had already seen
the movie) when they ripped off the wrapping and as the music
crashed and then complete silence to show no Golden Ticket,
a small child at the front of the theater gleefully yells
entire audience laughed, loudest of all, me.
bought a watch today. This is always a huge production for
me since I’m so picky. First it was the kiosk (nope),
then Sears (maybe), and finally Hecht’s (or however
you spell it). I needed something to replace my Timex
Expedition I bought in Hawaii a few years ago when Carrie
lost my watch on Waikiki Beach (yes, I blame her. Disregard
the actual facts, I gave it to her to put in the bag. She
brought the bag back to the room. No watch. Ergo, SHE lost
it. It’s really that simple, folks).
ended up with the Timex Triathlon with a ridiculous
amount of lap possibilities.
use the time, the date, and sometimes the chronograph. I don’t
go down to 100 meters below water. I don’t need to know
what time it is in Zimbabwe. I don’t need 64,000 split
times (mainly because I don’t know how to use that function).
I use the alarms but I don’t need 14 of them. I occasionally
use the Indiglow function, though.
need something that don’t make my small wrists look
any smaller but not one that is so small that I might be considered
“Unisex.” I need digital because analog
takes a microsecond too much processing.
need black or silver. Mostly black.
need big fat numbers that jump out at me right away. I need
a clean interface without a lot of dials, windows, holes,
displays, etc. Time, date, day please.
also need minimum buttons on the face so when I lay down with
my arm under me (just to get that great limb-falling-asleep
feeling going), I don’t reprogram my watch.
don’t ask for much folks.
for $32, I got what I needed.
Advice for Today:
caution the first day you buy a chainsaw. You'll be tempted
to cut down everything in the neighborhood."
you start to feel good during an ultra, don't worry
you will get over it.”
July 23, 2005
To the Original Chocolate Factory
rented and watched the original Willy Wonka and the Charlie
Factory with my kids today.
learned quite a few things:
original book was called Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
but Quaker (yes, Quaker!) put up the duckies for the movie
in order to promote a new candy bar they were putting out.
So they changed the name to promote the candy bar.
candy bar had a defective formula and melted in the stores
resulting in a recall. The movie became a classic although
it flopped when released.
love this movie. I could go on and on (and probably will).
I love it because it’s a dual movie: for adults and
for kids. So as a kid, I enjoyed the kid parts. As an adult,
I enjoyed the endearing aspects and life lessons. I also got
to revisit scenes that are familiar to me, kind of like revisiting
an old friend, seeing the scenes from my childhood.
are my quick character/actor impressions based on the interviews
of the kids who are now adults:
sorry, Charlie, you are looking gay. I love this movie and
I have a deep affection for everything that it stands for
but I have to say, Charlie, it’s the look. I’m
sure you are not (I HAVE to believe you are not) but the short
cropped hair, round glasses, and handlebar mustache on the
chiseled face…. argue with me.)
sucks to lose all that hair, huh Mike?
Looks exactly the same. I laughed and rewound 5 times when
he came on the screen.
Looks like a grandmother already
doesn’t look like a grandmother. Still hot. I know
I have an unhealthy fetish about this but I truly believe
she was instrumental in my development and concept of the
opposite sex when I was a kid. And now, well, roots run
deep, enough to color my perception of the older version
of the actress. I might need psychological help on this
didn’t help that in the interview, she said that she
just got qualified as a fitness instructor.)
Wonka: “Don’t worry, I’ll take care
of all of you.”
Mr. Beauregard “Yeah, you took real good care of
that August kid.”
need something from any or all of you. I need a souvenir.
Any prop from the movie. I would love to have (although I
know it would be next to impossible) Willy Wonka’s top
hat, coat, or cane. Anything from the “half room.”
Maybe an Everlasting Gobstopper.
maybe the grand puba of all: the actual Golden Ticket Charlie
God. I can’t breathe. You don’t understand. I
can’t… calm down.
might end me if you find anything like this.
you knew what this would mean to me, you would fly out like
locusts to find something. Anything.
Advice for Today:
be so open-minded that your brains fall out."
of the world's greatest feats were accomplished by people
not smart enough to know they were impossible.”
July 22, 2005
family was reunited today. After being together for two weeks
and then two weeks apart, it felt like much longer apart.
I was glad to pick them up from the airport.
someone else was not as happy.
ran into a road rager. And it wasn’t me this time.
was going my normal 80 MPH down the freeway, thinking I was
getting really lucky to be going this fast on a Friday night.
For some reason, I had a total mental meltdown when it came
to getting to BWI (a trip I’ve made many times) and
the directions I found took me on a route I had never been.
And that I never want to go on again.
am such a directions rock.
I was zipping in and out of the clearly retarded population
of northern Virginia’s Friday night drivers when I must
have cut off someone. I justify this by the fact that I keep
pace and even if I shave someone a little close, they either
deserved it for going slow when they didn’t have to
or the fact that I don’t actually impede their driving.
I continue on and get out of the way they might feel I got
into in the first place.
this guy wasn’t buying it and ended up punching his
Camero to get into the right lane next to me.
he was gesturing. And yelling. Why he felt the need to yell
when my windows were rolled up, I don’t know.
I could have had a variety of reactions to this. I could have
gestured back. I could have cussed profusely. I could have
completely ignored it. But I did none of these things.
he looked me in the eyes with his furled scowl and said something
I have to assume was not wishing me a nice day, I simply put
a curious look on my face and held my hand to my ear as though
I didn’t catch what he was throwing.
this had the effect I was looking for. RAGE.
did it a few more times and he kept falling for it. Then it
was time to take it to the next step.
opened my mouth, through back my head, and gave the biggest
laugh I could muster. Then I looked in the back to Alex, who
was oblivious to all of this because he was watching a DVD,
and I gestured to him to look at this guy. He didn’t
see me do it but it wasn’t for Alex. It was for the
Rage-inator. He saw me laughing and pointing to the occupants
of my vehicle to look at the idiot and laugh along with me.
then wiped my eyes.
behavior did more to agitate this jackass than all the threatening
gestures I could possibly come up with.
he swerved into my lane and I had to slam the brakes.
temporarily paused my laughing and I had to quell the rage
myself. But I got it under control and dove into the right
lane and punched the accelerator. As I passed him, I made
sure to laugh once more right in his face, waved goodbye,
and sped up. He was trapped behind someone slow and the gap
behind me filled up before he could catch me. I kept going
and soon he was many miles behind me.
was about all the excitement of that kind for the night. I
got Carrie and Stephanie and we drove home in traffic. Yes,
11:00 at night and it was bumper to bumper.
hate I-95 like that road rager hated me. Ooh, I hope he didn’t
hate me THAT much.
Advice for Today:
the batteries in smoke alarms every January 1st."
have to forget your last marathon before you try another.
Your mind can't know what's coming.”
July 21, 2005
New Willy Wonka
took Alex to Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
got mixed feelings.
felt a lump in my throat when Charlie found the golden ticket.
And his interaction with his family.
was not too impressed with Johnny Depp. Kind of weird Michael
Jackson sort of Willy Wonka. I think that name would lose
its childhood innocence when attached to this performance.
will give a thumbs up.
Grandpa: not quite the Jack Albertson performance (especially
that horrid dance)
Willy: um, you know where I stand
Augustus Gloop: not too hard to find a big fat German kid.
Violet Beauregard: Blonder and prettier than the original
but just as annoying
Mike TV: this kid needed a beat'n. In 1971 and now.
Veruca Salt: I refuse to comment on the grounds it will incriminate
the plot took a new twist getting deeper into why Willy was
off his Wonka.
still think the original can’t be beat and although
there were some nostalgic moments, I would rather my kids
have seen the original and left it at that.
Advice for Today:
trust a woman who doesn't close her eyes when you kiss
gun goes off and everything changes... the world changes...
and nothing else really matters.”
Patti Sue Plummer
July 18, 2005
Almost Died Today
at least I was certain that I was going to. Everyone that
reads this blog regularly knows that I am terrified of flying,
which isn’t the greatest personality trait of a frequent
traveler. And folks, it’s getting worse.
doesn’t help when I have to fly on a roller-coaster
of an airplane ride like I did today.
got the back seats of the plane and I was by the window, Alex
having the center seat. The flight was from Denver to Virginia
and everything seemed to be going fine as I paid for Alex’s
inflight entertainment of “Ice Princess.”
No, it wasn’t an adult theme and no, my boy is not a
fruit; it was the least of all evils they offered and the
boy wanted to watch SOMETHING. So Ice Princess it
was. Shut up.
bumb… bump… BUMP!!!!!
the hell is wrong with these people?
I went into frightcon3 which consists of me grabbing two napkins
and balling them up in my fists. This is simply to absorb
the gallons of sweat that start spewing out of my palms.
noticed my mounting discomfort and was actually amused. I
tried to be brave so as not to scare the lad but after a particularly
heinous jolting, my ruse all but evaporated. I was scared
put my balled fists on my knees, laid my head back and closed
my eyes, listening to my iPod for comfort that never came.
eyes shot open and I saw they had freeze-framed the movie
and the captain was saying something over the intercom. This
could not be good. I pulled off my headphones with shaking
hands and heard the captain giving instructions to the passengers
of how to use the sickbags. Then he goes on to explain that
we can expect this kind of ride for the next ½ hour.
And who’s going to scrape the scare-paste from my underwear
Mr. Bumpity Bump?
really wasn’t doing well at this point and not even
watching Ice Princess without sound could calm me
down, believe it or not. I think I’ll have a Pavlovian
thing going on whenever I see that movie again. I’ll
scream and duck under the table.
the time we got to the end of the Terror Express, the napkins
in my hand were nothing but round little panic lumps that
I handed to my son to pass along to the trash. He laughed
at me. He will pay.
you remember, we drove
to a friend’s house who then gave us a ride to the airport
and took our car for safekeeping while we were away. Now on
the return trip, we took a cab to get to his house so we could
pick up the car.
never taken a cab from the airport to a house but it seemed
like a simple process. And for the most part it was but it
still strikes me as weird that we had the perfect stereotype
for a cab driver. I think he was Indian.
don’t know if he ripped me off or not. I’m not
good at these things. I DO know that that meter was ticking
off pretty damn fast and that ¼ of a mile was the metric.
Then he can’t find the place or even follow my directions
(which I’m trying to convey via cell phone conversation
with my friend.”
at the second light. You’ll want to turn left but you
really want to just veer…”
of course he got turned around and I assumed he was going
to shave off some of the toll since it was really his fault
and even a minor detour was costing me dollars per ¼
mile. He’s a cab driver, for God… or whatever’s
didn’t. Well, really he DID because guess what…
your tip’s in there too buddy. Have a good one.
guess there really is something to this karma thing because
my buddy’s wife, who was supposed to be home, was somewhere
other than home. And as a welcome home, the Virginia area
was disgustingly sweltering so Alex and I proceeded to get
soaking wet in our own sweat waiting for my friend to come
up with a solution. The car was right there but we had no
key. I just wanted to get home after my harried flight halfway
across America via millions of different altitudes.
finally found the hidden key and got in to grab my key set.
And we were off…
had to get a haircut. I couldn’t stand it!!! After three
weeks, I was just plain nasty and horrified to see that almost
all of my sides were stark white. Maybe it was the flight.
Whatever the cause, this had to come off and I couldn’t
wait so we stopped on the way home and I got de-nastied. It
was good getting back to “me.”
dropped off the bags and went right over to pick up Buster
who was staying at yet another friend’s house. (Before
you start of accusing me of having a lot of friends, I’ll
point out I used both of the ones I have to help me out here.)
initial report for Buster’s behavior was “Well,
he’s definitely a boy.”
took this to mean he had … um… carnal relations
with their female German Shepard but I thought, what damage
could be done? He’s fixed. (Every time I say that, I
imagine him looking at me and saying “I was never
ends up that wasn’t the problem. It seems that he decided
to mark territory that wasn’t his. Specifically, the
walls, the end table, a box of books, etc.
do you say? “Sorry my dog pissed all over your house.
So, we’ll be going…”
felt terrible but they explained he was OK for a couple of
days but then I guess he started doing it at night. So they
locked him up in the bathroom at night and that seemed to
solve the problem. Except of course all the urine that had
already left the reservoir.
offered to have their carpets cleaned but they said they owned
a steamer. So I offered to come over and help Sir Phil clean
it and they said he was going to be moving the furniture to
paint the walls next week so I told her that I would come
over and help him.
really OK, don’t worry about it. It’s fine.”
told her that of course she’s going to say that and
if Daisy came over and pissed all over my house, I’d
be telling her it’s OK and she would feel like it wasn’t.
So let me have this to put my mind at ease.
glared at Buster who had no idea why.
the way home, I saw a house that got hit by lightning and
the entire top floor had burned. No one was hurt but the house
I was home. And the top floor wasn’t burnt up. And there
was no dog piss all over everything. And the house was not
lurching up and down, threatening to crash to the ground in
a ball of flame.
good to be home.
Advice for Today:
pick up after your children. That's their job."
people run a race to see who is fastest. I run a race
to see who has the most guts.”
July 17, 2005
had bacon and eggs for breakfast. It was great.
rabbits outside had cigars. Specifically the cigars one of
the guys left outside. The thought of a rabbit knowing on
a cigar is both really gross and really funny to me.
that was the WORST friggin carrot I EVER tasted.”
the highlight of the morning had to be the shower. Yes, there
was a shower but the whole spirit of “camping”
was that we didn’t use the shower until the last day.
Sometimes “spirit” kind of stinks. (I know there
is a Nirvana joke in there somewhere about Smells Like
Teen Spirit but I’m too tired to dig it out.)
I did take a shower, it felt like back when I did a Combined
Arms Exercise (CAX) in 29 Palms. We had to walk from tent
to shower hut and then back afterwards. By the time you got
back, you had a layer of dust on you. But you were “clean.”
Well, as “clean” as you were going to get.
got packed up and ready to go. Only me, Alex, Scott and his
son, and Mark were heading out today. The rest were staying
an extra day so we bid them farewell and headed to Denver.
I think I saw some vomiting rabbits on the way out but I’m
drive back was kind of stressful. Oh, I had my iPod blaring
in my ears the entire time but the deal was that the others
were going to drop me and Alex off at a hotel and then take
the van back before they got on their flights. Our flight
didn’t leave until the morning.
stress came because I really didn’t want to return that
van. Why? Because it was pig-shit nasty. Uncle Kenny had already
paid for it so it would have just been a matter of handing
over the keys but still, I didn’t want to look into
the eyes of the poor schmuck who had to clean that puppy.
I stressed the whole time while they decided if they had time
to return it and get to their flight. I would have returned
it but I really didn’t want to. I wanted to get to my
hotel room and relax and luckily, that’s what we did,
although it resembled a body dumping when we got there, tumbling
out and grabbing our stuff while the van was practically moving.
There was no time to dally so goodbyes were short.
a room was easy but expensive. It was well worth it to be
on our own and in a clean, comfortable, cool room. And no
deranged forest creatures eating tobacco. We paid extra for
was really interested in the pay per view cartoons and since
he had been away from TV for a few days, I let him watch them
and told him I’d meet him at the pool. It was a chance
for me to get in the hot tub before he showed up and would
want me to join him in the pool.
was a good plan until I got there and realized that Mother
MacTruck and her son Tubby McTwotons were just lowering their
immensities into the hot tub as the water level rose considerably.
No way was I going to go over and join perfect strangers,
especially ones that looked like circus fat lady and Augustus
Gloop, simmering in broth.
I jumped in the pool and waited ever so impatiently. Before
long Alex showed up and we played in the pool with an inflatable
ball. When the beefatrons lumbered out of the pool and waddled
out of the pool area, Alex and I went over and enjoyed the
hot tub. Ahhh, just what I needed after a day of traveling.
we got back to the room, my cell phone rang. It was Mark and
he told me that when they returned the truck, they noticed
that Alex had left his carry on bag in the van and they left
it with the rental car place.
I was screwed. I had all night to get it but I had no transportation.
I talked to the front desk and explained to them the situation
but they said the shuttle was too busy to take me to Avis.
I would have to take it to the airport, catch the Avis shuttle
back to Avis, get the bag, have Avis drive me back to the
airport, and then catch the shuttle back to the hotel.
it sounded 10 kinds of screwed up to me too. I was not happy
and unfortunely because I’m a world-class ass, I let
my frustration shift the blame to Alex. I didn’t exactly
yell at him but I made it clear that I wasn’t happy
and he was the cause. I know, but I’m human. I apologized
happened next was interesting, to say the least.
waited outside for the shuttle to come and when it did, it
was driven by a young college girl. I would point out that
she was attractive but the fact that she had more piercing
on and around her general head area disqualified her from
my interpretation of beauty. She had dark eyeliner looking
like an escapee from Hot Topic and a general disposition
hovering somewhere around her assuming I pointed out disparaging
comments about her lineage.
got out of the van, walked around the van without a word,
opened the side door, grabbed a footstool, slammed in down
in front of the open side door, and stood back up looking
at me like I had just crapped my pants.
eyes half-lidded, she said very sarcastically “Welcome,
I just couldn’t let this slide. It was too chalked full
am no spring chicken but the difference between 36 years and
college age is not so far apart that I would need a step stool
and called "Sir" by a civilian who knew nothing
of my existence as an Officer. I know it was just policy but
it was just such an informal situation between two people
too close in age to keep up this ultra-formal charade.
kidding, right?” was my quip as I gave a little
did not make her happy nor at ease. In fact, it seemed to
piss her off even more.
a courtesy for our customers, SIR.”
I got in the back and waited for her. Great, I had managed
to piss off my only ride. When she returned, she was quiet,
brooding and took off.
“No, not at all.”
if I insulted you back there.”
“No, you didn’t.”
explained to her my situation and she rolled her eyes but
it was about them telling me the shuttle was “too busy”
to take me to Avis.
can take you there. Next time, just talk to the driver. They
don’t know how busy we are.”
now it was my turn to be pissed off.
like this was going to happen a lot that I would need the
advice to talk to the driver when the next multiple times
I need a ride to recover a forgotten bag from a rental car.
Second, why did the people inside assure me that the drivers
were too busy when they weren’t? They just assumed “no
we can’t” rather than “let’s
make it happen.”
now we had something in common: we were angry with her authority
figures. She stopped glaring at me like she wanted my spleen.
I must thank her because she did take me there, I got the
bag, and took me back to the hotel. I told her she didn’t
have to get the stool down and by then, she had softened up
enough to smile at my little joke. But then I had to push
it and say,
I could be a total ass and MAKE you get the stool.”
fast as the smile came, it ran away from her face. Back to
to go, Jason.
Advice for Today:
miss an opportunity to have someone rub your back."
hurts up to a point and then it doesn't get any worse.”
July 16, 2005
Only Eggs the Fish Seemed To Favor was Goose
day seems have a later and later wake up time. This time,
it was 0700 instead of 0600 and that’s just because
that’s when I decided to roll out of bed. I was one
of the first ones to rise. Of course Uncle Kenny was already
up and moving things around.
second cousin had football camp starting next week so his
dad, Mike, asked if I wanted to take him running. Sure, I
thought, I would take him for a short
1 mile run because:
I knew he didn’t want to go in the first place
2. The air was thin
3. I hadn’t run since the marathon
4. The last thing I wanted to do was get all sweaty the first
thing in the morning, halfway through 3 days of not showering.
was not too thrilled but he went. He moved pretty good for
a big boy but a couple of things detracted from the run for
the both of us. First, it became evident in about 2 minutes
that there was a COMPLETE lack of oxygen. I felt like I had
a plastic bag over my head and I quickly found that I’d
rather dig my cuticles out of all my fingers going under the
nails rather than doing this.
MJ, he suffered along with the same problem but compounding
it was the fact that he severely needed to take a dump. (A
seriously messed up situation for any runner.)
made it back after stopping only once to let MJ deal with
the scared turtle situation and I was impressed he made it
back to camp, heading straight to the bathrooms without breaking
stride. Luckily, that wasn’t the only thing he didn’t
you will recall, I caught the first
fish. Now calm down, calm down, I know it was quite an
accomplishment but I won’t be able to finish this blog
if you keep breaking out in applause like that. I don’t
think I didn’t detect a little sarcasm there.
I was goose-egged for the rest of the day and was not too
happy about it. Which makes a FULL second day of said goose-eggs
much more gravel-in-the-underwear irritating.
know, when the fish are biting and you are reeling them in
like a machine, fishing can be a spectacularly fun time. When
they are not biting, it’s pretty much standing in a
cold river getting burnt up by the sun. I mean, if you don’t
catch anything, all you’ve accomplished is throwing
a hooked worm upstream, let it float past you, reel it in,
and repeat. FOR HOURS. Who would do this?
lunch, we had Bubba Burgers. Bubba Burgers are the best hamburgers
you can buy. Sir Phil used to talk about them but I thought
it was Sir Phil being Sir Phil until he showed me that yes,
indeed, they are actually called “Bubba Burgers.”
Kinda goes along with Cheese Nips as far as racially
slurred edibles go.
lunch, we took a trip up to the memorial. “Bosker”
was my Uncle Kenny’s neighbor in Colorado and co-founder
of the annual Wyoming trip until his death years ago. In remembrance,
they made a plaque on the highest hill around and they visit
it every year to pay their respects. It was cool to see it
and you could tell it meant a lot to Uncle Kenny.
had one last chance to catch some fish so we headed toward
the river but got split up. When we took an alternate route
to get there, we came upon a most interesting scene:
other group was chasing a herd of antelope at full speed across
a wide plain! So naturally, we took an angle to cut them off
and hit the gas. We didn't quite succeed because they all
got away but both sets of men on both vehicles were screaming
at the top of their collective lungs.
9 males left to our own devices.
guess we pretty much pissed at Mother Nature because for the
final time, we got dealt a goose egg in the fishing department.
They didn't want what we had to offer. Screw them. Bastards.
to celebrate our final night there, we lit off fireworks that
we had stopped and purchased along the way. The explosions
echoed off of the Chalk Cliffs and the birds were probably
wondering what the hell was going on.
Screw 'em. Go talk to the fish!
night ended back at the cabins where one of the kids was once
again attempting to start up a poker game. Every night, he
tried but no one seemed all that interested. By the time we
got back to the cabins, we were ready to eat and get some
sleep. Spending all day taking worms for a swim in the blazing
sun will do that to a guy.
we all ate and I started a little packing for the trip home
had a great time but living out of a suitcase for the last
three weeks, I was ready to see my house again.
Advice for Today:
deeply and passionately. You might get hurt, but it's
the only way to live life completely."
always loved running...it was something you could do
by yourself, and under your own power. You could go
in any direction, fast or slow as you wanted, fighting
the wind if you felt like it, seeking out new sights
just on the strength of your feet and the courage of
July 15, 2005
Heads, Fish Heads, Roly Poly Fish Heads....
0600 I was ready to get up and go fishing with Alex. Nothing
like standing in a river all day waiting for a fish to bite
on a wiggling worm. Actually my disillusionment and lack of
patience did not manifest until later and at this point, I
was excited to get our of bed and go to the river.
Platte River is the river that we fished, specifically a portion
right after some rapids where there is a large wall across
the bank. I don’t know if the official name is The Chalk
Cliffs but that’s what we called it. The wall of cliff
was right across from us and the birds had build nests toward
the top so we had an audience the whole time we were fishing.
Hundreds of little birds whose chirps would echo back from
the wall, combining with the sound of a river. It was incredibly
of the traditions of this trip was to let the kids drive.
There’s nothing out there but dirt roads so traffic
wasn’t a problem. Careening off a cliff, now that was
a problem but luckily, we managed never to go there.
was the smallest and since he couldn’t reach the pedals,
he sat on the lap of his father and steered. The question
came up that ignoring the obvious laws about underage drivers,
could you get a DUI for just pushing the gas pedal? All the
adults were drinking to some degree and while no one was lampshade
on the head drunk or even close, it would be an interesting
argument with the authorities. Also, we were going about 20
MPH so that in itself might have motivated the local Barney
Fife to check us out. But like I said, we were out in the
middle of nowhere so we never even saw other people on the
road, who would have had an interesting site of a little boy
driving a big van.
dropped our line in the river and about 10 minutes later,
I got a bite. THE FIRST OF THE TRIP!!! I reeled the baby in
thinking I had caught Orca. The battle was tremendous as I
kept the line tight and reeled like there was no tomorrow.
I got him to the shore and… and…. and it was not
Orca. Maybe his small little distant cousin, the 2 pound trout.
walked up and down the line showing everyone, only to discover
we didn’t have a stringer. My Uncle Kenny advised me
to throw it back before it died because we would be catching
much bigger ones than that and my limit was 3. So with more
than a little trepidation, I let him go and he lazily swam
away. Come on, Orcette, if you’re free, I would high-fin
it out of here, dumbass!
next fisherman to snag a trout was Alex. He caught a monster
than he reeled in like a pro and I was more proud of that
than with my own (even though, I will point out, I DID catch
the FIRST. Let’s not forget that, shall we?).
took it over to Uncle Kenny and since it was obviously big
enough to be a keeper, Uncle Kenny pulled out a knife and
gutted it in a smooth, effortless procedure that was as quick
as it was impressive. I don’t think Alex was expecting
this because he had the look on his face somewhere between
“What the Hell are you doing to my fish?”
and “That’s really barbarically gross.”
before lunch, we were all in our own little fishing world
when from out of nowhere, the wind kicked up and as I looked
up behind us, just on the little rise, I saw a tornado. OK,
it was as much of a tornado as my fish was Orca but it was
absolutely unexpected. This huge, OK, “dust-devil”,
just appeared and danced around our little camp area. One
minute everything is calm and cool and then the next, there’s
a 30 foot high funnel dancing around the area. Friggin’
returned to the cabins for lunch and when we returned, I continued
to stand in cold water without a bite. Not that I was getting
impatient but my worm was just as desirable as everyone else’s,
right? RIGHT? They why….. arrrrrrrrr!!!!!!
calmed myself, listening to my iPod. I know that purist will
pshaw my use of iPod, arguing I should be soothed
by the sounds of raw nature all around me but I realized I’m
just too much of a modern culture junkie. Gots to haves my
music, man, even if its while wading in a Wyoming river trying
to pull trout out.
became increasingly evident that I was not a fisherman. I
know this put my Man Card in serious jeopardy and I did have
a pang of fatherly failure when it also became evident that
I had not passed this non-existent fishing know-how to my
son. But Uncle Kenny was there to help and showed us how to
attach a hook. I went back one too many times to have him
do it because I was jokingly informed that he had already
showed me. I took the hint that shouldn’t have had to
be given and sheepishly rigged my own from that point on.
got a few more bites but didn’t land another fish for
the rest of the day. Alex was getting a little fed up also
but we had another day and everyone was catching enough that
we when we returned to camp, there was enough to grill.
great but I don’t do fish. No, don’t argue, don’t
try to convince, just read this very slowly and digest it:
I DO NOT EAT FISH.
see, still arguing! I don’t. I just don’t. I won’t,
I don’t, I will not eat it with a fox, I will not eat
it in a box.
unlike the Dr. Seuss book, I will not end up trying it and
liking it. So let’s drop it.
was glad to hear that we were doing “Surf &
Turf” so that meant that I could have steak. Uncle
Kenny added this, that, and the other to the fish, wrapped
then in foil, and cooked them on the grill.
today it was just Uncle Kenny and me at camp when it was time
to light the grill and he took one match, lit it, and got
the coals going right away. Yesterday,
it seemed to need a flamethrower and a few gallons of nitroglycerine.
Tonight, it took Uncle Kenny and one match. Figures.
ate like kings. It was surreal to be out in the middle of
nowhere, all dirty, grimy, and sun-beaten, yet have a big
dinner of steak, baked potatoes, salad, rolls, beans, and
beer. It was like eating at a restaurant and we all got our
fill so that after cleaning up, it was all I could do to lumber
to my bed.
the last two nights, the moon has been out at sunset so the
starts were not as visible as they usually are. So at 0300
this morning, I woke up Alex and we went out to look at them.
couldn’t imagine if you haven’t seen it. I don’t
think the altitude has a lot to do with it (you think a mile
closer to stars that are trillions of light-years away is
going to make a difference?) other than the fact there was
less atmosphere to get in the way. But the lack of any city
lights anywhere around made it look like a planetarium out
there. There were just too many stars to look at and I found
out why they call it the Milky Way. It so thick in a band
that it looks like milk (duh. But this concept escaped me
when I was a kid).
and I stared for ½ hour. So far, this or the moment
he caught the fish vye for the best of the trip.
Advice for Today:
eating cinnamon rolls or prime rib, eat the center portion
going to go out a winner if I have to find a high school
race to win my last race.”
July 14, 2005
didn’t know it until this morning, but do you know where
you know what that means? Why that is special? Come on!!!
if you knew ANYTHING about me, you would know that my most
favoritest of all beers in the entire world is Coors Light
in a bottle (yes, it has to be in a bottle, if you must know.).
For me there are only two kinds of beer I drink: Coors Light
in a bottle or “Free.”
how are these two facts related? They MAKE Coors in Golden,
Colorado. I found myself in the place where the golden brew
is actually created. I remembered the old commercials where
they talked about Golden Colorado and when I realized that
was where I was, I was all geeked out about it. I even took
pics of the brewery way on the horizon. While making fake
“angel singing” noises. “Ahhhhhhh…..”
know, I just can’t help it.
loaded up the van and headed out. We were going to meet the
others at a point an hour down the road since they were flying
in this morning and would rent a vehicle for the trip. We
met at Fort Collins and hit the Wal Mart for a few more supplies.
long after, we were on our way and we were loaded for bear
(that’s the saying but what the hell does it mean?)
We got to the mountains and stopped at a vista point to take
some pictures. Here is how the conversation went near the
trunk (Mark is my cousin):
“Do you think we should open the trunk?” Me: “I don’t know, it’s pretty
packed.” Mark: “Do you think anything will fall out?” Me: “I can’t see that it would be too
catastrophic is we open it slowly.”
I said that, Mark opened it up slowly and an entire case of
Coke fell out and three of four cans EXPLODED on impact.
the logical reaction was for the kids to grab the cans and
start throwing them on the ground. They were ruined anyway,
littlest kid, Brandon, threw one and it literally exploded.
The aluminum can was in tatters. Alex picked up one and threw
it but when he saw the look I gave him, he knew it would be
his last thrown can. I’ve become adept at conveying
entire lectures with one look and this one said “I
don’t care what the others are doing, you will NOT throw
we got deeper and deeper into the mountains, we kept a look
out for antelope which Uncle Kenny pointed out that we would
see scores of. We did and before the night was over, we had
seen antelope, deer, cats, frogs, goats, cows, and rabbits.
I kept Alex laughing by naming each one of them and coming
up with conversations they had when they talked to their buddies
about the close call they just had.
we got to the cabins, we had a kind of gold rush. Everyone
kind of poured out and started staking claims to rooms and
beds. Most of the beds were bunks in large, open rooms but
a few had little private rooms. The one I picked out for Alex
and me turned out to be the one Uncle Kenny traditionally
gets so I had to move to one farther into the cabin which
meant I wouldn’t be enjoying the window to outside where
we would have a breeze. The cabins were warm inside and even
though they had A/C units, the coolers were small and taxed.
But we got our own room with a bunk bed setup.
we were getting settled, I noticed something that I was warned
about. Being out in the wilderness, it was rather dry and
dusty. This meant that my nose would soon be plugged. Not
my sinuses, mind you, but there was a lot of particulate in
the air and everyone’s nose was doing its job of filtering
the intake of air. What am I talking about? Lots and lots
of boogers. There, I said it.
a guy around all the other guys, there was only one way to
handle this situation. Push one nostril closed and blow hard
(yes, I was outside. What am I, an animal?). I did this with
both sides and felt better, except it felt like the ammo hadn’t
cleared the barrel all the way so I had to resort to the effeminate
Kleenex to finish the job.
I did this and was about to throw the tissue away, I noticed
something very shocking. The tissue was SOAKED in very dark
seems that we were at one of the highest points in a state
that claims to be a mile high to begin with. That meant very
little air and potential for bloody noses.
this fact did not sooth my nerves after seeing a pint of blood
shot out through my nose.
dozen tissues later, I got the bleeding to stop but I felt
a bit dizzy after that. Whether it was the site of so much
blood or the loss of it, I don’t know. I would just
have to be careful with my nose-blowing activities.
was under 14 so didn’t have to have a license threfore
he and the other kids were the only ones legally allowed to
fish today. The rest of us bought licenses which started tomorrow
so we went down to the river and let the kids drop a line.
All we were allowed to do is drop another kind of line but
pissing on the river bank was not exactly the funnest activity.
At least it didn’t involve blood.
we got back to the cabin, we decided we needed to make plans
for dinner. It was becoming increasingly evident that we were
a collection of the most stereotypical guys which means, we
really didn’t have a firm grasp of what we were doing
most of the time. I’m not saying that we were helpless
morons, just that there was no women to interject an opposing
approach to any situation. So the result was that stuff just
happened and nothing was really thought through once we got
there. Thank God Uncle Kenny had been doing this for 33 years
or it would have been a real mess but still, I had the feeling
that things were just “guy spontaneous.”
in point was starting the grill. The mention was made but
no one really moved to make it happen until a few of us ripped
open the bag and poured in the Matchlight briquets. The problem
was that there was a wind and we had nothing more that small
matches and Bic lighters to get the job done.
had their turn, and their own idea, of how this was going
to be accomplished. One of the boys was checking the alcohol
content of the peach Schnapps. Another one thought it a good
idea to soak a paper towel with bug spray. In the end, we
decided to pick up and move the huge grill beside the cabin,
trying to shield it from the wind. This, of course meant that
we were putting it right next to the raw-wood, weather-beaten
cabin. Ah, who cares, we got to get it lit, right?
many, many failed attempts and the coming and going of just
about everyone there, someone got the damn thing lit and the
wind whipped the flames in a hurry. Eventually it calmed down
and we managed to cook some bratwursts without catching the
cabin on fire.
had been a long day of driving and we retired to our rooms.
The inside temperature was a lot hotter than the outside so
our room was rather warm. After re-confiscating our fan from
one of my second-cousins, I tried to go to sleep but because
I’m a freak, I can’t sleep when I’m warm
so I tossed and turned most of the night. But that was OK,
there was a big day of fishing we were looking for tomorrow.
Advice for Today:
your hands before lifting a trout from the river."
is nothing more than the shadow of great opportunity.”
July 13, 2005
Kenny's Camping Trip
all the bags?
everyone in the car to go have lunch before our flight?
like a total ass when I find out that the local Godfather’s
Pizza no longer existed?
it WAS a chance to see the old neighborhood where I spent
what was arguably the most depressing summer of my life. I
had run away from home, lived in the worst part of town with
my dad away from everyone I knew, anyway, it was a bad scene.
I worked as a busser at a steakhouse and this is where it
was, although the steakhouse has since been ripped down. Being
there brought back a lot of memories and the gulf between
where I was and where I am now was hypnotic.
here I was again, at the airport but this time with my son
going to Colorado to meet my uncle.
flight into Denver was bumpy just like last time but I was
thankful that Alex and I only had to deal with a 2 ½
hour flight today rather than the who trip back to Virginia.
He only had to watch me squirm for half the time this day.
"It's OK, son, just a few air pockets."
"AHHHHHHHH! WE'RE ALL GOING TO BURN LIKE MATCHES
IN A FIERY CRASH AS WE PLUMMET TO THE EARTH!!!!"
bring you up to speed, I just spent two weeks in Seattle with
my family and now my son and I were flying to Denver to meet
up with my uncle and then drive to Wyoming for a few days
of camping, fishing, and all around nothingness in the nothingness
whole camping trip was a long tradition that my uncle invited
us to when we were visiting him last year. He started the
tradition 33 years ago and the deal was that you had to be
9 years old to qualify so as his boys became old enough, he
started taking them. Since then, the grandkids have started
to filter up and he has kept the tradition alive.
thing is, this trip is his big deal so the invite was a very
prestigious offer that I was really psyched about. Not only
was it a chance to spend some time with family members, it
was a camping trip to Wyoming!
we got into Denver, he was there to meet us. He was easy to
pick out because my Uncle is huge. I think he’s about
6’4” and even into his 70s, is an imposing figure.
We were also meeting my second cousin, Mike’s son. Mike
is Uncle Kenny’s youngest son and inherited his size
which served Mike well when he played a decade for the Atlanta
Falcons. Mikes has two sons, both of which are going to continue
the tradition of being huge. Michael Joe already is, a high
schooler that towers over me. Mitchell is only a year older
than Alex but is as tall as I am. He’s been told he’s
going to be bigger than anyone in the family, which is a tall
order. (tall order… get it? See… ahem…)
Uncle Kenny picked us up, he took us to Dino’s. He used
to live in the area when his kids were growing up and it was
the most popular pizza joint in the area. You know the one,
where you take the entire team to after a baseball game? THAT’S
were starving so while we were waiting for our pizza, Uncle
Kenny insisted on getting a plate of spaghetti and then when
we polished off that, he ordered another one. When the pizza
came, we didn’t quite attack it like a pack of mad dogs
but we gave it a good shot.
is my Uncle Kenny in a perfect representation of how he is.
Order ‘em up, boys!!! And if you hesitate or reach for
your wallet, he’ll slap you across the head.
we got back to the hotel, I had the first chance in a couple
weeks to get on the Internet. The REAL Internet. The kind
that goes faster than a couple of bits per minute like my
in-law’s dial-up connection. I had to check out this
crazy adapter thing for the wireless connection but it worked
like a charm and within seconds, I was linked into the Matrix.
was almost drunk with the speed!
many blog entries to keep up with (written or read) and about
a ton of emails. Ahhhh, the joy of being away from technology
for two weeks.
I couldn’t spend all my time on the computer so I took
the kids to the pool. (No, that isn’t code for taking
a dump. Normally, yes, but this time, I mean the real kids
to a real pool).
really don’t like swimming all that much but I knew
that Alex would lose his mind if I went in with him and I
kind of had a responsibility to the little guy since it was
just me and him represented from the Grose clan. I swam around
for awhile and then sat in the hot tub until I was beet red
and dizzy. Yes, folks, Jason soup. Yummy!
rest of the night, for me, was, you guessed it, the computer
while the kids enjoyed a movie (for the low low price of $8).
If you have been to a hotel lately, you will see that they
have almost everything pay-per-view so for a mere $8, you
can mesmerize your kids in the hotel. Just as long as they
don’t order up the, well, the inappropriate channels
which, I was dismayed, were abundant. Made sleeping in the
bed a little bit uncomfortable.
been a great visit here in Seattle but like all good things,
and much like a good crap, these things must come to an end.
Did I just compare going home and visiting with friends and
family for two weeks to a bowel movement? Believe me, much
like a lot of my bowel movements, it was purely unintentional.
had a last family get-together and once again, the whole gang
was here. I think we've seen more of each other in the last
two weeks than they all see each other all year. It's a statement
of what they think of us and it made me feel good seeing everyone
my brother showed up straight from work and we enjoyed a wonderful
steak dinner that Lyle prepared. No one was going hungry this
day. It made me a little sad that I probably wouldn't see
most of these people for two more years. Buying 4 tickets
cross country is an expensive venture and this splurge was
to get us through the halfway mark. Two years is a long time
to be away from these people. This is where I belong.
had to pack and left it to the last moment so that I’d
be nice and pissy. I'm going to Wyoming tomorrow and have
to take with me all of the stuff I brought and bought. This
was not going to be pretty because everyone else was coming
with just a couple of days worth of clothes for the camping
trip. Me? I looked like I was moving there permanently.
learned that the people you care most about in life
are taken from you too soon and all the less important
ones just never go away.”
July 11, 2005
Falling and Friendly Get-Together
I woke up this morning, I looked around. For what? For the
bastard who snuck in with a baseball bat and beat my legs.
come to the conclusion that there is no standard way my body
recovers from a marathon. Every single time seems to be different.
This time, it was intense pain that I hope wouldn't last long.
is my theory: you owe a certain amount of pain as a result
of a marathon; a quantifiable amount. How that gets distributed
changes but the total amount is the same. So if you feel mildly
sore, that is spread out over many days. If you have an intense
night after the marathon, then you should feel better quicker.
least that's what I'm hoping because last night and this morning,
I feel like I paid in full.
what is the logical thing to do the day after a marathon?
Why, go hiking, of course.
was not my idea. My brother-in-law had a big blow up with
his boss and ended up quitting the next day. It was a big
decision but he had some other options lined up so he took
the leap. With his new-found freedom, he decided to take his
family to Snoqualmie Falls and asked Carrie if we wanted to
sounds fun" said my wife.
legs screamed in anticipation.
I had the option of staying home but I didn't want to be locked
up in the house all day with limited mobility so I agreed.
After all, my mother-in-law was going so it couldn't be all
that arduous, right? (Are you catching what I'm throwin' over
grew up half my life in the Seattle area and while I had heard
there was such place as Snoqualmie Falls, I had never been
there. Neither did I realize that there were actually "falls"
associated with Snoqualmie Falls. I just thought that was
the name of the area.
not too bright, I know.
when we got there, I was mesmerized at the sight. It seems
they mean it when they call this thing "falls" because
there was this huge, well, waterfall. Here's a pic of what
I'm talking about.
my body is chalked full of lactic acid, like to the nth degree
of pain. Oh, and this is real, not a fake background)
was the easy part. Standing and looking, I could do. But then
it was time to hike down to the bottom and see what all the
hubbub was about. This was where I started to wonder why I
had agreed to this.
on post-marathon legs, I know, was the right thing to do.
It hurt like hell and it was counterintuitive but remember
my theory: get all the pain out at once.
was the logical part of me. The other part was screaming bloody
murder and my ego was also taking a hit because even my mother-in-law
was holding up better than me. But... marathon... yesterday.....
on, we met up with some friends for a barbeque where I realized
that I really didn't want any attention because of my marathon.
I thought I did. I thought I'd be modest on the outside and
intensely proud of my accomplishment on the inside. But I
was wrong. I really didn't want anyone to make a big deal
about it, almost like I was bragging. When they brought it
up, I could see in their eyes that they didn't understand
and I didn't want to explain it. It's nothing they said or
did; they were gracious but I just was not ready to deal with
the emotions I was still processing over it and especially
with people that didn't understand running 26.2 miles in the
evening went well and I was impressed with my friend Paul.
Actually, he's married to Alison who was Carrie's best friend
in high school so Paul and I are friends by association. But
over the years, I have come to forge a genuine relationship
with Paul that I really do enjoy.
is that "everything" guy. Great husband, great father,
and basically great at the myriad of things he's involved
with. If you think I have a lot of pokers in the fire, you
should see what Paul has going on and what impresses me is
that he does them all so well. He takes a lot of time with
the kids and seems tireless in being involved with every aspect
of their lives. He works at Microsoft and every time I visit,
he gets me up to speed with all the latest gadgetry in his
have a boat. They have a basketball court. They have a trampoline.
They have a band!!
read correctly, they have a band. With a bonus from work,
Paul decided to buy a set of drums, an electric guitar, a
keyboard, a microphone, and an amp. He set it up in a spare
room and the family jams like the Partridge Family.
is where Paul's talent once again came to the surface. He
can play ALL the instruments. Formal lessons? Please! He can't
read sheet music but give him a song and he will have it down
within minutes, on any instrument. He played some Keane and
I was impressed.
asked him if he knew any Sarah McLachlan (of course) and within
a few minutes, I had my iPod in his ear listening to Fear.
After tinkering around for a few minutes, he got the basic
beat down and was playing it on the piano.
torn with my interpretation of this situation. I respect that
he can do this but I know that if I want to play the piano,
I will have to take lessons, learn to read the sheet music,
and spend years pounding out "Marry Had A Little Lamb"
before I could even attempt Sarah's
it, be happy for him.
rest of the party was a good time with good friends we had
not seen in a long time. For one, Kelly, it had been 7 years,
ever since her and Carrie had a very minor disagreement that
somehow turned in to something bigger than the original tiff.
For whatever reason, we had not seen Kelly for 7 years and
it was good to see her again. She's always been that friend
who I playfully needle about everything from Huskies Vs. Cougars
to misspoken slips of the tongue and if you think I pick on
her and that it's one-sided, let me assure you that's not
the case. And we picked up where we left off 7 years ago.
had a good time all night and Paul took me up to the treasure
trove that is his attack. His actual job at Microsoft is to
maintain good relations with big customers and showcase new
products. To do so, he buys a lot of "goodies" with
Microsoft labels on them. Kind of like a SWAG Master, if you
will. And every time I show up, he loads me up with overstock
items that, being the geek that I am, just eat up.
was one special request I had. For over a year now, Carrie
has threatened to throw away my oversized Microsoft t-shirt
that I use as a nightshirt. A gaping hole has developed in
the armpit but I just absolutely love this shirt. I've threatened
serious bodily harm if it comes up missing and she just rolls
her eyes every time I put it on, which is just about every
I asked Paul if he had anymore and with a smile, he loaded
me up with a half dozen more.
take for granted the things closest to your heart. Cling
to them as you would your life, for without them, life
July 10, 2005
had decided that staying over at my brother's house the night
before the marathon was not a good idea. Plenty of times I've
foolishly upset my normal routine before a race an inevitably,
I end up paying for it. So once I found out there was free
parking for the runners, appealing to my cheapassedness, I
decided to stay at my in-laws' house, sleep in the same bed
with my wife, the same room as my kids, and just deal with
getting up and getting to the marathon in the morning.
was so used to this whole routine that the morning went smooth.
I had done all the marathon-eve silliness to get ready and
flowed through my routine this morning like, what is it, something
about a goose? Bad analogy. Let's move on.
streets were deserted and I had no trouble getting to the
race. I stopped at a local AM/PM to get a small cup of coffee
and as I entered, I suddenly became very aware that I was
wearing my full marathon regalia, to include the number pinned
on the front of my shirt. I was more than a little self-conscious
about it, not wanting to appear to be showing off and I was
glad there were not too many people in the store at that early
I came up to the front of the store to pay, there were about
4 teenage kids behind the counter watching some kind of show
on a small portable TV. One looked up at me as I approached
and took me in with her eyes.
know she was just being nice but you know me and my mood before
a marathon. I just knew she was going to say something and
at the time, I was convinced it would be something stupid.
I was not long waiting.
running a marathon today?"
desperately I wanted to answer:
I just like to dress like this. I like to pin on a number
bib on my shirt at 0600 on a Sunday morning and walk into
an AM/PM for coffee."
know, I know, harsh. But maybe the "Seafair Marathon"
plastered all over the running bib should have been a clue.
KNOW, I KNOW, she was just being polite and pointing out the
why I suppressed my tendency to have NO patience with people
on marathon morning and simply answered with a modest mousey
drove to the parking area and found my way to the main lobby
of the Marriott, where the free parking was. There were a
few others in marathon garb wandering around so I knew I was
in the right spot and did what all marathoners do at this
point before the race.
must say, in my 12 previous marathons, never have I been so
spoiled. The bathroom was all in tiled marble with gold fixtures
and towel-warming racks.
was weird to enjoy such lush accommodations before a marathon
when you are used to Port-a-Potties and I couldn't help but
feel some kind of humorous irony that I was using such high-end
facilities before the race.
Thanks, Marriott! And as a token of my appreciation....
knew no one at the race. No one single person. Even if someone
I used to know was there, I doubt if they would recognize
me nor me them. It had just been too long and although I scanned
the crowd, I had little faith that I would recognize anyone.
So I stretched and listened to my MP3s for the hour before
the marathon, wondering how this day would unfold.
did see Miss Seafair, though. Not that I would have recognized
her because I had only seen a picture of her in the marathon
packet and today she had on jeans and a polo shirt. So how
did I pick her out? Maybe it was the sash that announced "MISS
SEAFAIR" and the rather large bodyguard following her
around. Yes, blue jeans and a sash plus crown is quite a look.
weather was nice. It was cool and clear but devoid of any
humidity which I prayed would continue throughout the run.
before they started herding us toward the start line, I felt
the familiar need to use the bathroom once more but looking
at the toilets, the line was spectacular. With 17 minutes
until the start, I knew there was no way I was going to make
it through the line so once again, I traded comfort for well-hydrated.
I lloked like Forrest Gump at the White House.
started the race feeling really good. I bought a little clip-on
pack to carry my Gu and my MP3 player clipped onto my shorts
also. I didn't want to deal with a running pack this race,
leaving my waistline free, and thought that the course would
provide the hydration I needed at the water stops.
would prove to be a bad assumption.
hills were a small factor but not as much as I thought they
were going to be at first. As I wound my way through the city
of Bellevue, I was pleased to see that I was making good progress
and pain was at a minimum, especially after the first stop
at the port-a-potty. Now I could RUN like Forrest Gump instead
of hop around like him.
mile 10, it was time to take my second Gu. But I had passed
a water station a mile back and realized at this point in
the race that the water stops were not all that great. I don't
mean to insult the organizers, it's just for my personal needs
(read: unimportant to the field at large), the water stops
were not where I needed them.
I did something I had never done before (which is, BTW, the
worst lead-in sentence to any part of a marathon story); I
ate a Gu packet without water.
described swallowing Gu as "swallowing someone else's
lugie". And THAT'S with water to help it down. Now
imagine trying to do so without the aid of water. It was a
lot like swallowing superglue. Or maybe a mouthful of crackers
with a bone-dry mouth.
was gagging and actually consciously using my neck muscles
to force it down my throat. It was utterly disgusting but
I finally gagged it down but that would be the last time I
ever try that again. EVER!
the halfway mark, I was just under 2 hours AGAIN and AGAIN,
I entertained the hope that I could still bust 4 hours on
this marathon. Oh sweet, sweet hope.
the day wore on, the temperature started to climb a bit and
the humidity kept pace. The hills were becoming a little more
challenging but I kept a positive outlook and kept trudging
along the course.
the 15 mile mark, everything fell to pieces. Here's what happened.
course transitioned to a park trail about a mile long, the
only portion of the course NOT on city streets. The effect
this had was that it was a tree-lined path and the wind, which
was the only thing keeping the temperature at bay, went away.
it was only this, it wouldn't have been but an inconvenience.
But the path also went UPHILL.
not cause for alarm? Agreed.
then without warning, I felt all the energy just drain out
of my body. I had felt this before in training and I knew
that my blood-sugar level had just officially plummeted.
I was a novice, I'd be really scared at this point. I had
no energy and it felt like there was no way in ten Hells that
I was going to be able to go 11 more miles feeling like this.
And in fact, there would be no way. But I knew that energy
ebbs and flows in a marathon and just because you are exhausted
during the race, that doesn't mean you will stay that way.
at this point, I was in trouble. I was feeling the effects
of the heat because the trees blocked the wind. Plus, I was
going uphill and I had somehow lost all my blood sugar to
keep me going. From training, I knew what I needed and that
was a Gu. I blame myself because there was a water station
at mile 14 and I didn't take the Gu, knowing the stations
were at least 3 miles apart. I had the Gu in my hand but even
though I was desperate, I had recently learned that I could
not choke down a Gu without water.
the official marathon lexicon, I was screwed.
trudged up the path, miserable, and had to walk a lot of it.
I figured I lost about 20 minutes on this portion and I was
not happy about it. I had my relief RIGHT IN MY HAND with
no way of swallowing it. This taught me that I will ALWAYS
bring a water bottle no matter what for now on. Idiot!
I emerged from the path, I was dizzy and disillusioned. I
knew I had just blown my sub-4 marathon and there was no consoling
me. But quitting was never a consideration and I knew I still
had a lot of hard miles ahead of me so I put it behind me
and was glad to see a water stop about a mile out of the covered
path. I drank 3 cups of water and 3 cups of sports drink,
my body soaking it up as it hit my stomach. I slammed the
Gu with the last cupful of water and when I brought it down,
I simultaneously crushed the cup and thrust my eyes at the
was ready to run again, dammit.
body was really hurting but I could run again. I could feel
the Gu and the sports drink move through my system like medicine
while my energy level gained momentum. Now that I had this
problem solved, another one hit me just as quick.
mean like “give me ANYTHING edible and I will put
it in my mouth" starving. And the “edible”
requirement was negotiable.
dreamed of candy. Handfuls of M&Ms. Mouthfuls
lemon drops. Soup. Cookies. Oh God, cupcakes. Anything. I’m
hungry. Give me food, pleeeeease.
remembered that up to this point, there was no food offered
so my heart sank. What I would give for a full turkey dinner
cardinal rule of all marathon cardinal rules is repeated over
and over and over. Almost as many times as it’s broke:
NEVER TRY ANYTHING NEW ON THE COURSE THAT YOU HAVEN’T
simple really. A rather short decision flow chart:
I train with this?
– Go ahead, have at it.
No? – Don’t even think about it. Moron.
only had I never trained with Red Bull before, I had never
even TRIED Red Bull IN MY LIFE!! I actually thought it was
like a V8 because of the name and had heard rumblings about
it in the marathoning background. Energy drink, give you wings,
yadda yadda, yadda.
around a corner thinking about a big turkey dinner, I saw
a huge inflatable Red Bull can tied down like a Macy’s
float. Like I said above, at this point, I would have eaten
my own shoe (with my foot still in it) and the thought of
drinking an “energy drink” that “gave me
wings” sounded pretty damn good about now.
had skimpy-clad “Red Bull” girls with huge platters
(let me finish!!!) of ice cold cans of Red Bull. Ice cold.
Because of my depleted state, the girls had all the sexual
appeal of Mother Teresa at the time and I thrust a shaking
hand out to get a can. Of Red bull (would you STOP!).
thought did momentarily pop up that maybe this wasn’t
a great idea but that lasted about as long as it took to grab
the can and pull it to my mouth. I took a tentative sip, expecting
a tomatoey taste but when I realized it tasted citric, like
Mountain Dew, it was on. I drank it all in two more gulps.
immediate effect but it quelled my famished hunger and I moved
mile down the road was a fruit stand. Why they had nothing
for miles and then a water stop, a Red Bull stop, and a fruit
stop all a mile apart, I don’t know. But I wasn’t
complaining because all of the sudden, fruit sounded like
the food of the gods.
had cut melons into square pieces and filled Dixie cups with
them and after one attempt at dribbling some in my mouth,
I just dumped the whole thing in my hand and started shoveling
like some animal. As I kept running, I grabbed a banana and
an apple with my newly sticky hands. Yes, folks, I was quite
slowed down to eat the banana, all except the last little
bit that I dropped, slapped up into the air, fumbled, batted,
and eventually dropped on the ground. Shit! Oh well, I still
had the apple which I ate on the run.
just in case you weren’t keeping track, I had a melt
down, then was saved by 3 cups of water, 3 cups of sports
drink, a Gu, a Red Bull, a cup of fruit, a banana, and an
to say, I had a surge of energy. I think the Red Bull had
a lot to do with it but since I had so many items in such
a short period of time, I can’t really pinpoint what
gave me the big boost. But I was rolling once again.
really, really hoped that there was going to be another Red
Bull stop on the course but there wasn’t. Actually,
I wished there were one every mile and if I would have known
how much it helped, I would have grabbed another one and carried
it with me.
I needed it because despite the big boost I got, at about
the 22 mile mark, life got ugly. It always does. Only two
times in my running career has mile 22 to 26 NOT seemed like
the 7th Ring of Hell. Those two times were when I ran my 50
mile races and mile 22 wasn’t even the halfway point.
All other races, all 12 other marathons, no matter what shape
I’m in, it SU-HUCKS at that point!!!
kept telling myself “This is where you show your true
colors. This is what you train for. This is where you find
out if you run with the Kenyans or run with some guy named
Ken. This is where…”
YOU SHUT YOUR DAMN MOUTH!!!
I was hoping this wouldn’t come out but yes, there was
a rather loud argument between mind and body at this point.)
DO WE ALWAYS FIND OURSELVES HERE? NO ONE CARES YOU RUN THESE
THINGS! AND YOU END UP AT THIS POINT, RACKED WITH PAIN, OBVIOUSLY
NOT ENJOYING YOURSELF. FOR WHAT? A STUPID T-SHIRT? A STUPID
PIECE OF METAL YOU WEAR FOR AN HOUR AND THEN PIN UP ON A BOARD
IN YOUR HOUSE, NEVER TO BE SEEN AGAIN EXCEPT BY YOU? THIS
IS WHAT, NUMBER 13? NOT IMPRESSIVE ANYMORE TO ANYONE. NO ONE
CARES AFTER THE FIRST COUPLE. THEY JUST KNOW “HE RUNS
MARATHONS.” NO ONE CARES IT’S BRUTALLY PAINFUL,
MENTALLY AND PHYSICALLY EVERY SINGLE TIME NO MATTER HOW MANY
YOU RUN. AND YOU ARE NOT GOING TO BREAK 4 HOURS, YOU KNOW.
HOW MANY TIMES HAVE YOU ACCOMPLISHED THAT? OH YEAH, ONCE.
OUT OF 13 TRIES, YOU BROKE 4 HOURS EXACLY ONCE AND THEN ONLY
BY JUST OVER TWO MINUTES!
gets a lot uglier but I will just stop there. Suffice it to
say, it’s tough to run with all that volume going on
in your head.
is what I came up with to shut those voices down.
had your say and now it’s my turn. I run these because
I can. You want the damn t-shirt? Keep it. You think I care
about the medal? Sometimes I forget we get them until I’m
surprised at the end and remember to take off my hat to
bow down. Yeah, I’m 1 for 13 with the sub-4 but you
know what? I keep standing back up; I keep signing up. I
keep saying I’ll beat 4 hours. And I will. If I have
to run marathons for the rest of my life, I WILL crush 4
hours. And when I realize I won’t make it in any race,
I will not quit. Ever. It then becomes training for the
race because I can. Because I have the ABILITY to cross
a starting line and keep going until the 26.2 mile mark
is reached. Because I have the luxury to train for it, a
luxury not many people enjoy. Because there are guys over
in Iraq, friends of mine, that would rather run these miles
in full combat gear that to face another patrol. Friends
that might not be able to run 26.2 FEET ever again.
run because I’m a runner, dammit. I earned it. And those
two minutes? JUST two minutes?
I don’t think so: I SMOKED that course by 2 minutes
and three seconds. And don’t you EVER forget those 3
that point, all the voices got real quiet and I had about
2 miles left.
only one other race was there anyone waiting for me at the
end. Ironically it was my sub-4
in Monterey but this day was different. I knew my wife
and kids would be there at the finish line and there was rumor
from the family that others might show up. I thought about
them in the quiet solitude of the post- argument and it gave
me the strength I needed to finish the race.
I came down the chute, I heard my name called and looking
over, I saw Jeff, my brother-in-law, with his very pregnant
wife, holding up one of his sons. I saw Scott, my other brother-in-law
with his wife, my nephew and niece… all waving, cheering.
I saw my wife smiling, my two kids holding up signs.
you know how hard it is to run the last .2 miles of a marathon
with tears in your eyes?
I facetiously asked if there were any other arguments of why
I run these things. The silence continued.
crossed the line with an official time of 4:23:33 and a pace
of 10:04 per mile. Overall, I came in 47th out of 61 men between
the age of 35-39.
walked around a little bit (OK, I wobbled) and we decided
to get something to eat. I blame the following on my wife
because in my depleted state, I probably would have agreed
to anything, even sushi(t). We decided we should join Scott
and his family at Chipotle and since it was within the city
(meaning nice and quick), I agreed to it. Of course I was
a lot like Rain Man at the time so it's not too surprising.
the second time today I found myself in full marathon regalia,
this time in the sweaty version, inside a public place. I
think I might have been the only marathoner in there so of
course I stood out a bit. I walked like an old man and maybe
the bib and the medal gave me away, too.
wanted something simple so Carrie ordered me three tacos.
Seemed innocent enough. Until it came and the meat was a bit
more spicy than I had thought.
did this stop me from eating all three? Oh, no, that would
require intelligence and I just made sure the burning sensation
flowed all the way down my throat and settled in my weakened
might win the title as the dumbest thing I have ever done.
the time I got home, hobbled upstairs in the most comical
situation imaginable (if you saw the steepness of my in-laws’
staircase to the upper portion of the house, you’d understand),
took a shower that bordered on pure Nirvana, and flopped on
the bed, I thought I might sleep the entire night away.
an hour later, I had enough of the pain and heat emanating
from my legs. It was obvious my body was not going to forgive
me for the little taco incident and I was left to suffer through
a conscious state for the rest of the night.
give up when you still have something to give. Nothing
is really over until the moment you stop trying.”
July 9, 2005
Pickle Ball. Today, It's Whirley Ball
I explained yesterday, my wife’s
family is competitive. I mean like John Macenroe reaction
to a close call competitive.
little visual sets the stage for a little game called Whirley
Ball. Keep that in mind as I describe the situation.
Ball is basically bumper cars meets trackball meets soccer.
You pay an exorbitant amount of money to play climb into a
bumper car and team up for the spectacle. You have a track
ball racquet and the object is to throw the ball into a small
hole at your end of the court. Different distances result
in differing points based on difficulty and for 20 minutes,
you zoom around, pass the ball to your teammates (or DON’T
in some cases) and try to score points on your opponents trying
to do the same.
now, reach over and grab that bowl full of “Like
I explained yesterday, my wife’s family is competitive.
I mean like John Macenroe reaction to a close call competitive”
situation I explained above and you might be able to piece
together the finished product.
determined I am a master. I mean like Jedi prodigy level.
I’m expecting calls for product endorsements and heavy
recruiting packages coming my way soon.
maybe I was just better than average. At least good. Fine,
I didn’t stink up the place but I’m not going
any lower than that, dammit.
discovered I can readily pass a trackball to a young child
from quite a distance. And that I can’t hit a round
hole with the same ball even if I’m mere feet from it.
that my brother-in-law Jeff has scary-ability even in this
sport. Like uber-skills. Hell, he probably could roundly school
me at tiddly winks.
all had a good time and despite the $80 we had to lay down
for three 20 minute games, the camaraderie we enjoyed was
almost worth the hefty price tag. I didn’t much care
for the score and never knew who “won” until someone
informed me at the end of each game. Everyone got to play
and the kids were just as competitive as the adults so my
final judgment is that if you can afford $200 per hour, look
Advice for Today:
it's not your job to get people to like you, it's your
job to like people."
putting cheese in a mousetrap, always leave room for
July 8, 2005
Ball With the Schramms
can get away with saying many things about my family.
are my favorite son.”
“You are my favorite daughter.”
“You are my favorite niece.”
some things are forbidden.
are my favorite nephew.”
have three of those so it’s evident why I must stay
away from that declaration.
had a family get-together at my brother-in-law’s house
(Jeff) and yet another unlikely gathering of family members
occurred. With such a large family, it’s rare that we
can all make it under the same roof at the same time so I
was honored to see everyone make the effort. Even my sister-in-law
from Montana made it so the Schramm family was all present
and accounted for.
will not find a more competitive collection of people no matter
how far and wide you search. Sports had always been an important
part of their childhoods and while their differing natural
ability promoted different levels of expertise, all of them
benefited from massive exposure to sports over the years.
is just a freak. His hand-eye coordination is legendary and
he doesn’t even have to try. A civil engineer by trade,
his current profession does not convey the natural ability
he has with just about any sport. As a high schooler, he was
the starting quarterback, the starting pitcher, and the main
point guard, earning him a recent induction into the school’s
Hall of Fame. High school!
didn’t even know high schools had a hall of fame and
unless mine enacted the Geek version of said Hall, I doubt
if my phone will be ringing off the wall any time soon.
other siblings have a lesser but still impressive degree of
grace when it comes to sports so these kind of get-togethers
inevitably involve backyard games. Today, the game of choice
was pickle ball and if there is any more humbling, field-leveling
backyard sport, I’d like to see it.
a kid, I spent many a summer passing the time with badminton
waiting for my dad to get home from work so racquet sports
came easy to me. I held my own if by “my own”
you consider my pride and ego and by “held” you
mean wadded it up and threw it in a bucket of manure. Then
you nailed it. Kudos.
I still had the respect of the little ones so I’ll concentrate
on that. Especially one of my nephews who, for some reason
still a mystery to me, thinks I hung the moon. I took him
aside and talked with him one time early in this visit and
I must have hit a chord because I now seem to be the topic
of discussion within his 5-year-old world. Now he has to sit
next to me anywhere we go and in all plans for the rest of
my trip, I am his main interest. Where is Uncle Jason? Is
Uncle Jason going to be there? I want to sit by Uncle Jason.
is very few things in this world, if any, that is more satisfying
that seeing a 5-year-old’s eyes full of love and worship
for you. I challenge you to come up with anything comparable.
pickle ball skills became very unimportant.
Advice for Today:
someone gives you something, never say 'You
MAKE VERY FAST, VERY ACCURATE MISTAKES.”
July 7, 2005
To Da 'Hood
is going home for vacation and NOT taking time to revisit
“the old place”? Which old place, you ask?
took my son with me to visit Federal Way, the city I spent
a lot of my high school years in. The first stop was KC’s
who, if memory served me, made the best hamburgers ever created
by human beings. And that’s not just me talking here.
Really. The best. Ever.
only did we get to experience said best burgers created by
human beings, but I got to play the role of good Samaritan
when the lady totally hosed the correct change situation.
Our total came to $14 and some change so I handed her a $20
and she gave me the coins but forgot to hand me the bills.
She realized this mistake right away, before even I noticed
and embarrassed, handed me a $10.
I don’t claim to be the best mathematician on Earth.
Or even in the top billion for that matter but I knew something
was amiss here. I smiled and told her I think she intended
to hand me a 5. She was momentarily confused, looking at the
total, looking at the bill I was handing back, and back to
the total. When it finally struck her, she turned beet red
and exchanged the $10 for a $5. I was happy that Alex witnessed
the entire thing.
old house and all the ghosts associated with it was our next
stop. When we pulled up, there were two young girls with their
bikes in front. I pulled up slowly and tried to figure out
a way to talk to them without looking like some pedophile
there goes that attempt.
you live here?”
for two, Grose.
Internally: “Oh my God, this freak is probably the
kind that has a thing for the Veruca Salt actress from Willy
Wonka and the Chocolate Factory or something. Help!!!”
grew up in this house.”
this was an infinitely interesting fact for me, it apparently
had the same interest factor for her as belly-button lint.
tried to make small talk and ask about the internal changes
to the house which likely set off even more sirens for this
poor girl. At least it should have and as much as I tried,
the more I talked and tried to avoid sounding like Chester
the Molester, the more I heard myself reading pages from the
pedophile playbook. I finally gave up and ended the one-sided
drove around the old neighborhood and pointed out houses of
former friends to which my poor son gamely feigned interest.
Oh, what that boy had to endure. Then it was on to the high
school and I didn’t even bother getting out of the car
for that one. I would like to think my son would have some
kind of latent interest in seeing where his dad attended high
school if only for the fact that he himself is on the verge
of attending his own version.
not. But God bless the little guy for at least pretending
to be interested. I love that little knucklehead.
my continuing search for the affordable Seattle Mariner jersey,
we headed for the Seatac Mall. No, it’s not the Commons
as they tried to tell me. Forever and a day, it will be “Seatac
Mall” so let’s dispense with this silly re-branding
Seatac Mall. It’s not “The Commons.”
Southcenter Mall. Not “Westfield Mall.”
stewardesses. Not “flight attendants.”
employees. Not “associates.”
Christmas Break. Not “Winter Break.”
trashman. Not “Waste Engineer.”
fake. Not “replica.”
of which, I finally caved and laid down the duckies for a
fake jersey. It was the one I wanted: the glowing white baseball
uniform I have always loved. I almost settled for a blue one
because it was “authentic” but I just
couldn’t go with the XXL. So I had to settle for the
$75 replica, excuse me, FAKE, and be done with it.
wore it out of the store.
also hit the bookstore and bought yet another book. This one
was about a guy who decided to read the entire Encyclopedia
Britannica from A to Z. I had seen this book in the store
last week and kept it in mind but when I asked about it in
B&K yesterday, they didn’t
have it so I decided that the next time I had the opportunity
to get it, I would snag it right up.
wife didn’t understand what would be so interesting
about a guy who read the encyclopedia. And I couldn’t
understand how she could be married to me for 18 years and
not know by now why such a concept would interest me.
did a non-athletic bookworm decide to runaway, forgo college,
and join the Marine Corps?
did a Sergeant decide to grab the golden ring as an Officer
did a 30-year-old with no skills play full contact football
against young Marines when the last and only time he had played
was in 6th grade?
did a guy who detested running decide to not only run a marathon
but tackle the 7th most difficult trail marathon in the United
States in his marathon debut?
did he a few years later decided to run 2 marathons a week
apart and then in the middle of training, decide to tack on
his first attempt at a 50 mile race two weeks after that?
did he decide to do the same a year later to prove that the
success of the first trio of races was not a fluke?
does a poor half-Mexican think he can be a Marine and earn
a bachelor’s degree in Technical Communications, a Master’s
in Information Technology, and eventually a doctorate in education?
there not a pattern here? Is it not apparent that an attempt
to read the ENTIRE FREAKIN’ SET OF ENCYCLOPEDIAS would
hold some kind of kindred spirit appeal?
it shouldn’t be able to be done.
more precisely, because “common knowledge”
dictates these things shouldn’t be possible.
Advice for Today:
buy a Rolex watch from someone who's out of breath."
the only tool you have is a hammer, pretty soon everything
begins to look like a nail.”
July 6, 2005
a day! What did I do, you ask? Glad you asked…
was a day set aside to revisit the University of Washington.
Every time I visit, one day is dedicated to doing this and
the recipe rarely varies, based on me being such a creature
of habit. Let me take you on this ride with me.
from Renton to Seattle was a ride down memory lane, especially
when I hit traffic on I-5. Why didn’t I take 405? Because
I’m a moron. Can we move on?
it did give me a chance to listen to my favorite radio station
(Star 101.5) and to my favorite radio personalities (Kent
and Allen). I laughed out loud (probably scaring the bejeebies
out of my fellow commuters) when they played a familiar jingle…
you do my ass….. strological chart, won’t you
do my ass (do his ass)….. strological chart, won’t
you do my ass….. strological chart… won’t-you-do-my-astrological
don’t take much, folks.
the commercials were fun to listen to since I hadn’t
heard about the local offerings in a few years.
I got to the campus, I knew to park in the big lot and braced
myself for the price gouging. When I attended there from 1993-1997,
the price was $1.75 per day to park. When I pulled up today…
an even 4 bucks.
fine, it’s just one day but the problem was, it only
took quarters and call me insane but I don’t make it
a habit of carrying around a sack of quarters so I pulled
up to the change machine (the wrong way, of course) and had
to get out of my car to feed in my flimsy $5 which it took
4 tries to decide that yes, this was actually a $5 bill and
I wasn’t putting in a damp napkin. It probably helped
when I oriented it correctly but that’s beside the point.
was like I hit it big time on a slot machine. Ching, ching,
ching, ching…. We have a winner!!!!
the time I pulled around there was three cars behind me, probably
with auto-passes, and I felt just a bit self-conscious feeding
in 16 quarters into the damn machine. Oh God, don’t
first order of business was to go for a run. The plan was
to start at the ROTC building, run through the campus hitting
a few memorable places, and then head on out to Gas Works
park. Then it was all the way back to campus and all the way
through Greek Row and around Greenlake and back.
was the plan.
accomplished most of it.
part about visiting the ROTC building went without a hitch,
other than the fact that a friend of mine who is the Marine
Officer Instructor was fox oscaring somewhere and I had to
leave a note. This is a story within itself but suffice it
to say that I knew him as a green midshipmen and the thought
of him as the MOI is akin to seeing that class clown you remember
as the principal of your high school in that as an “adult”
he might be quite capable of fulfilling the role but for forever
and a day will be Gilligan. But even that is not an apt comparison
because despite knowing Tim’s past youthful goofiness,
he struck me as an outstanding leader of Marines. Plus he’s
a Major so who am I, a lowly Captain, to make fun?
next stop was at the Department of Technical Communications
who, many years ago, were foolish enough to bestow upon me
a bachelor’s degree. I stopped by to say hello to any
professors that still taught but since it was summer, no one
was around. Damn, it was a chance to show them that despite
my less-than-stellar performance so many years ago, I went
on to attain a master’s degree. I guess I have a few
issues about that period of my life which were not helped
by the conversation I had with the only professor in the office.
I did not know her but here is how it went:
is your name, I’ll tell them you stopped by.”
“Jason Grose. I graduated in 1997.”
“Oh, I’ve heard of you.”
was telling that this statement turned my stomach. Then, like
an idiot, I had to made the following statement:
produced the posTComm that year.”
“Yeah, that’s where I remember your name.”
I don’t know if my name is mud around there or not.
I didn’t have the greatest relationship with the department
mainly because the NROTC took up so much of my time, I was
an occasional participant in TC in general and admittedly,
did the minimum within the department to get the degree. I
don’t know how this made me look within the department
because, by the nature of the situation, I was not plugged
into the general hum of life within TC. So either I faded
into the background, rarely seen, or was enshrined into the
obscurity of mediocrity. That’s the best case scenario.
The worst is that the general reaction to my memory is “Oh,
that guy. Yeah, mayor of Slackerville.”
was time to get on the road to Gas Works. My training had
waned in the last few days and even though this is what is
supposed to happen before a marathon, it felt wrong. The run
was not all that great and I had made the mistake of not eating
anything thus my blood sugar was somewhere near what rhymes
was one point of interest that, for some reason, I always
take note of when I make this run: There is a stretch of this
run where I run over and under bridges at the same time. As
I cross the bridge, there is another bridge above me and I
even looked over the edge just in case there was yet another
bridge below. Now THAT would be outright freaky.
I got to Gas Works, I looked over the bay to see the perfect
skyline of Seattle. As I watched on top of a hill, I witnessed
a small plane come in for a landing on the water. Don’t
worry, it had those big water-landing feet, just in case you
assumed I watched a tragedy (other than my general performance
on the run, of course).
the time I ran back to campus, a few things became apparent:
I needed food
2. I needed water
3. I needed to end this run
4. I needed to bag the run to Greenlake
5. I needed to be in better running shape for my marathon
in a few days
6. I needed to ACCEPT that #4 probably was going to happen
what did I do? Why, I turned to books, of course. But first,
I stopped by the car, did a presto-change-O in the parking
lot (hoping no one would notice the mostly naked guy hiding
behind the door of the white Jeep.) I figured for $4, I could
use the lot as a locker room. Screw ‘em!
then made another stop at the NROTC and found Tim but he had
a class to attend so we made a lunch date and I wandered off
to the University Bookstore.
was like Mecca!!! Rows and rows of books. Big, beautiful books
of all kinds just waiting to be wandered by and ogled, kind
of like a biblio-Victoria Secrets. OK, maybe not JUST like
that but you get the idea.
was my chance. Like many of my harebrained (Hair-brained?)
ideas, I got it in my head to attack the Illiad. Why? No particular
reason other than the same I had for getting into marathoning
and ultra-marathoning: because it had a reputation of difficulty.
And simply reading it was not the way to go, as I was told.
I would have to STUDY it to get the full effect and I was
told that the best way to go about this was to use a text
intended for a literature class which has notes. So when I
found myself at a UNIVERSITY bookstore, well, the opportunity
was just too rich to pass up.
you have ever looked into anything like this, you will understand
that I had somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 choices
of translations of which, approximately none were a clear
choice. It seems that over the years, many people have attempted
to translate this story and then you have the translations
of the translations which adds to the fun. Plus, you have
the study guides which offer an equal number of confusing
I crouched in the aisles, crying like a small child, I finally
decided that I should start with a guide and once I decided
this, it was a simpler matter to choose which translation
to go with since the guide specified which version it was
talking about. Armed with these two books, I concluded this
was my choice and for better or for worse, this is what I
was going with. Let the literature self-education begin.
met Tim and his Staff Sergeant for lunch and we mainly talked
about the old times which likely bored the poor Staff Sergeant
into a grand mal seizure but he hid it well. I told Tim that
he had my dream job and if they gave me the opportunity in
two years when the position came open, I would stay in past
my 20 year mark and finish out my career as the University
of Washington’s NROTC Marine Officer Instructor. I will
be looking into this when I return but it’s a pretty
let me get this straight: we send you to graduate school
for two years, paying you to get a free master’s degree
and then you spend 4 years working on an IT system. Now
you want us to send you to another juicy billet out of your
MOS for 3 years at a university right before you retire?”
Yeah, that about covers it.”
are other benefits to this other than the obvious opportunity
to affect incoming Marine and Navy Officers (a dream job I’ve
coveted for years). The extra three years would qualify me
to retire as a Major with 3 years time in grade and thus my
retirement pay would be based on Major’s pay. Plus,
with a 2 ½% increase per year after 20 years of service,
my retirement pay would be 57 ½% of Major’s pay.
I would be able to teach Naval Science classes so along with
a doctorate in education, the experience of teaching college
level courses would help me toward my ultimate goal of college
know it’s a long shot and I’m not getting my hopes
up but like every other opportunity I’ve taken during
my 18 year stint as a Marine, I will make them say no to my
request and thus my failure or success will not be based on
my lack of asking.
would think that all this was enough for a full day but I
still had one more stop to make. Just adjacent to the University
is a monstrous Barnes & Noble bookstore. I know,
I know, but if you could only see this one. It’s like
the Library of Congress but everything is for sale!
what sales they had. The entire front part of the store is
this big collection of discounted books. Rows and rows and
rows of seriously discounted offerings just waiting to be
snatched. I was dizzy with the possibilities.
my iPod in ear, I wandered the aisles and wallowed in the
selections. Ironically, I bought two more books and the one
I enjoyed most was one I didn’t buy.
two I bought was a collection of Andy Rooney’s short
essays he performed at the end of 60 Minutes and a book about
teenage hackers. The one I sat down and read was a behind-the-scenes
book about the making of the original Willy Wonka and
the Chocolate Factory.
loved this movie and it made a huge impact on me when I was
a child. Before the days of VCRs and DVDs, I only got to see
it once per year and it was an event to be savored so to see
and read about how they created such an iconic movie was indescribably
interesting to me. Most of all, I enjoyed the last portion
explaining “Where They Are Now.”
one defining picture was a reunion picture with all five of
the “kids” now somewhere in their 50s. Of course
Charlie was of most interest and I read where he never did
another movie after this one and went on to become a veterinarian
in New Jersey. His current picture made him look either like
a biker of gay. Maybe both. It was the bushy handlebar mustache,
there was Veruca Salt who, if the truth be known, had a lot
to do with my burgeoning attraction to girls at the time.
I don’t know why a spoiled brat in white tights and
a red dress played such a defining role in my developing interest
in the opposite sex so no street-corner psychoanalytic drivel,
please. Just take it for what it’s worth that I always
had a “thing” for her that I could never explain.
you can imagine the internal confusion as a sat in a Barnes
& Noble bookstore at 36 years of age, thumbing through
a book about the movie and realizing two disturbing facts:
The actress was 13-years-old at the time which is the same
age as my son is now
2. She is now middle-aged
too young at the time and depressingly too old now. There
is just no “good” to be found anywhere in that
situation so I will move on.
a better note, I was touched by the final story told in the
seems that Gene Wilder, who played the famous chocolate factory
owner, lives in Connecticut and was recently shopping in a
country store when he was approached by a lady with two small
children. She whispered to him, asking him if it was OK if
she told her children who he was.
knew what she was going to say and told her “Only
if you keep it low so only they can hear.”
that, she turned to the kids and said, “Children,
THIS is Willy Wonka.”
kids looked at him in awe and amazement as he gently smiled
down at them.
take a moment and imagine how good that must feel for Mr.
Barbie is so popular, why do you have to buy her friends?”
July 5, 2005
Ch Ch Changes...
change. I know that isn’t a huge revelation but I would
be remiss if I didn‘t mention something about it because
ever since I’ve been back, I’ve noticed it at
grew up half my childhood in this area and then spent 4 years
of college here in the Seattle area so I am familiar enough
to still go places with minimal direction. If you knew me
well, you would understand how much that statement means because
I will get lost in a closet. Remember that scene in, I think,
A Bug’s Life where the ants are carrying food in a line
and a stick falls between two ants and one screams “I’m
in point about the changes, the area around my in-laws’
house used to be strewn with lots of vegetation. Now, houses
abound. The old Hop-In Mom-N-Pop store has now turned into
a modern gas station and food mart. Wide fields of woods now
sport expensive homes.
are all these people coming from? Where will it end?
counteract the fact that life has moved on here in my hometown,
I took my boy to the mall. It used to be called Southcenter
but was renamed at some time to Westfield Mall at Southcenter.
But you know what, it’ll forever and a day be known
as “Southcenter” to most people around here. I
was amused that radio commercials are still calling it Southcenter,
wondering how they could get away with that since I assume
that the owners who are paying for the commercial would want
the re-branding to be universal.
was just us guys so I gave the boy a choice of what he wanted
for lunch and with a slight suggestion that we should hit
the Sizzler (a place my boy loves but we don’t have
them in Virginia, damn hicks) he “decided” that’s
where we should go.
realized my boy is not immune to the whole change theme we
have going here. He no longer qualifies for the child’s
menu and is starting to order the same thing I order, although
his completed quantity intake leaves a bit to be desired (paying
for an all-you-can-eat salad bar in return for a half dozen
chicken wings? Are you kidding me?)
had a great time eating and talking and laughed together when
I told him that once when I was a kid, I refused to eat the
steak my dad bought me at that very restaurant because I was
convinced the grill marks were tire tread and I wasn’t
interested in eating a steak that had obviously been run over
by a car.
then told me how he used to think that a carpool lane involved
a large pool of water somewhere along the route.
lunch, we hit CompUSA which is the bestest computer store
ever, if you were wondering. I heard trumpets blare as I entered
but after about 15 minutes, I really couldn’t find anything
that I couldn’t live without. The iPod accessories were
too expensive and I bristled at the fact that the only consideration
I gave to anything was a crApple product line. For shame!
then walked next door to the Sports Authority store and let
me go on record to say that they have the best selection of
running stuff I’ve found. They had a lot of the Under
Armor line as I salivated at the selection. The price dried
my mouth, though. And I have to say that I was a bit intimidated
by the muscular mannequins they had. It was just a torso with
no head but it was built like a bodybuilder. If I could look
like that, I would wear the skin-tight shirts they were advertising.
If I wore it now… let’s move on to another subject,
real reason we were there is because I got another obsession
into my pea brain. This time it started from the Mariner game
the other day. My brother had an authentic Mariner jersey
and I got it in my head that I wanted one. So for the last
few days, I’ve been scouring every sports store to find
a better deal that $120 for the “official” version
and $80 for what I call the “fake” but they call
the “replica.” OK, we’ll go with “replica.”
I’m looking at the fake jerseys…
just not ready to spend $80 for a shirt. Sorry. I just can’t.
This doesn’t mean I won’t, it just means I’m
not ready to do it just yet. It hurts. It pains me. I have
to ease into it.
was time to hit the actual mall and all and all, it was a
pleasant experience. Alex did amazingly well as I scoured
the sports stores and book outlets. I bored him silly with
stories about how we used to take him to this mall and the
particular stores he insisted we visit, not the least of which
was the Candy Store. I told him to get anything he wanted
and what does he get? Nerds. Something he could get from the
local AM/PM. That’s my boy.
headed home and the only purchases that were made was a $2
rubber Mariner bracelet for my son and a box of Nerds.
spending the day alone with my boy: priceless.
Advice for Today:
someone you know is down and out, mail them a twenty-dollar
Em. Hate you, hate Kansas, taking the dog.”
July 4, 2005
has a big family. When you consider she’s the oldest
of five and then add in all the accompanying spouses and kids
(plus a dog!), you come up with quite a gathering for a celebration.
What’s more amazing is that everyone was at one place
at the same time for the day; an occurrence that is very rare.
Oh, and no one wanted to kill someone else, even among the
kids. This is another oddity of this family: everyone gets
opposed to my dad’s side of the family where it wouldn’t
be a gathering unless a fight broke out, blood was spilled
all over the broken beer bottles, and police involvement was
was a Norman Rockwell painting come to life. There were hamburgers
grilling, kids of all ages playing, and adults in deep discussion
in the sunshine about taxes and house prices. It was good
to be home again.
decided that we should light off the fireworks at Scott’s
house since it was in Maple Valley. They had authorized fireworks
in my in-law’s county but they were right on the line
and didn’t want to deal with the possibility that Barney
Fife would come rolling up and exert his authority. So we
all made the trip to good old Maple Valley for some good old
fashioned pyrotechnic boom-boom.
it got dark, it was like being in a battle area. Explosions
were going off everywhere you looked; big ones, small ones,
some that made stains in your shorts. You know, all the usual
stuff in celebration of this great Nation’s birthday.
hauled out folding chairs and “The Boom Box” to
the basketball court in the little park behind Scott’s
house. At first, we just let the kids play with the little
stuff: snakes, black cats, pop-bottle rockets.
in the day, Scott and I had a rousing game of catch the pop-bottle
rocket stick. It was a game I played with my brother and dad
when we were kids. The concept is simple: you light the rocket,
it goes up, explodes, and the stick comes floating down. You
goal is to catch it before it hits the ground.
course with so many years of experience, I totally dominated.
And just for the record, I was trying to guide Stephanie away
so I wouldn’t accidentally step on her. Carrie incorrectly
interpreted it as shoving here out of my friggin’ way.
was also attacked by a tank. My nephew had grabbed this little
tank firework and opened it before we could get it from him
and we managed to put it back together. But when we lit it,
it was supposed to roll forward a few feet and shoot out little
popping explosions from its main gun. I was behind it and
because it had been opened, for some reason one of the explosions
shot out the back of the little tank and if not for my cat-like
reactions, would have nailed me in the shins. Everyone thought
this was quite humorous and they can collectively kiss my
to the nighttime fireworks; we expended all the rockets first.
There were seemingly thousands of them and it took awhile
but we were building up to the big stuff.
Big Stuff!!!! It came with a sturdy PVC launch tube and canisters
the size of my fist. We had single, double, triple, and yes
folks, even quadruple explosions!! We started with the single
and when we lit the fuse (and just maybe scurried away like
scared cats. I’m not verifying, I’m just saying
the possibility exists) the launch was dramatic.
sounded like an M80. Everyone jumped and in about 3 seconds,
the sky lit up with one of those big flowering displays. All
the men let out a primordial scream and I had my arms raised
above my head.
had 80 of these.
it never got old.
we progressed, letting off one was not enough. We started
launching two at a time, trying to time it just right which
was difficult because Lyle had a blowtorch (of course) and
we had a punk for the other one. The fuses were so thick that
it took awhile to light it with a punk and then Lyle would
hit his with the torch. But Lyle’s was still behind
so he figured out to light the fuse a bit higher to shorten
the time it would take to cook off.
we went to three where we had a torch, a punk, and a big fireplace
lighter. I had the lighter and we had to go off the my brother-in-law’s
punk in the middle to time our lights. We got it down and
a few times, we actually achieved simultaneous launch.
was such a “dude” accomplishment.
a grand finale, we tried 4. One torch, one lighter, and two
punks. This was obviously an advanced attempt and the possibility
of getting the two punks to light at the same time was the
long pole in the tent and slim at best but we were determined
to make it work.
kind of cosmic alignment happened and both punk lights took
immediately and simultaneously. Of course, Lyle’s blowtorch
had no problem getting the fuse to light and all I had to
do was click my lighter and hold the flame to the fuse.
in horror, I watched as the flame bathed the end of the fuse
but to no effect. It was like the fuse was wet or covered
in wax. I could hear the others start to jeer and I sat there,
holding the flame as the other tubes boomed. I was WAY off
and no one cared that I was doing everything right. All they
saw was that mine was not going off.
finally lit and it came off as pretty lame, a lone firework
going off after the others had dazzled the crowd. It seemed
funny that when we started, the lone firework was exciting
and pleased the crowd but now, it was just kind of a late-comer
and put an exclamation point on the fact that I was pitifully
late to the game.
I caught the most pop-bottle rocket sticks!!! I’m the
champ there, right?
Advice for Today:
your enthusiasm from the negativity of others."
your dream! Unless it's the one where you're at work
in your underwear during a fire drill.”
July 3, 2005
Course, Mariners, The Peanut Guy, and Godfathers, All In One
good to have connections. Even though the Alanis tickets didn’t
exactly come through, I WAS treated to season ticket seats
for the Mariner game through family connections. My brother-in-law’s
brother-in-law, if you can figure that one out.
got two tickets so my brother and I made plans to meet up,
have breakfast, and catch the afternoon game.
before the game, he wanted to show me the marathon course.
He works for a company that supplies construction supplies
(cones, reader boards, etc) and his company was cordoning
off the marathon course. He wanted to show me the route that
he had mentioned was a flat course; information I based a
potential sub-4 and PR running time on.
have reassessed my outlook.
down, up, down, up, ….
I’m not talking dirty here, that was the course. I don’t
exactly know what my brother’s definition of “flat”
is but in the World of Jason, this course was the hilliest
course out of all my marathons.
we drove, I marveled at the increases and decreases in elevation.
Good Lord, this was not fair. What the hell were the designers
thinking? In past years, they had done a half marathon for
SeaFair and this was the first year they decided to expand
it to a full marathon. There will be 1000 half-marathoners
and only 500 marathoners. They hope it will catch on and become
a big yearly event but, as my brother put it, if 6 people
get hit by cars, it probably won’t be an annual event.
That made me feel real good.
I’m sitting in the passenger seat crying…
like this is going to be a “Fun Run” that’s
not so fun, folks. I really don’t see a sub-4 on this
monster. We’ll see.
the baseball game.
into downtown Seattle was just was much a thrill for me as
it was when I was a kid. Rounding a corner, I had a flashback
and fully expected to see the Kingdome but instead was met
with the site of both the Seahawk Stadium and Safeco Field.
Oh yeah, 2005.
Mariner game would be complete without a pre-game beer or
two and Chris’s favorite was the Pyramid Ale House where
they set up a beer garden outside. The Mariners haven’t
been doing all that hot and in fact, are in last place so
there wasn’t that big of a crowd. It felt good to stand
out in the sun outside of the stadium and drink a couple of
beers with my brother. We had tickets in hand (40 rows back
from home plate) and all was well with the world.
for us, our seats were in the shade the entire game and the
temperature was perfect. Everything just fell into place as
we watched the Mariners play and it occurred to me that I
was really looking forward to moving back here for good. Only
a couple of more years and I’d be “coming home”
after a 20 year absence.
up the aisle way, I recognized The Peanut Guy. Ever since
I was a little kid, excitingly watching a Mariner game in
the Kingdome with my dad, The Peanut Guy has been slinging
peanuts. I can remember as a little kid how we would look
for him and thrill at his skill at throwing a bag of peanuts
an insane distance and hit his target right in the hands.
He’s become an icon in Seattle and he’s been interviewed
on TV, in newspapers, and magazines. He represents the Mariners
at the vender contest during spring training each year and
I’m told he wins most of the time.
him, I was amazed that he was still doing what he does. I
mean, I’m 36 years old and he was doing this when I
was a child. It was a blast from the past and from my adult
perspective, I noticed something I never had before. He was
of Middle Eastern decent. As a kid, it never mattered, I never
noticed. He was The Peanut Guy with the perpetual smile and
dead-on aim with a bag of peanuts. People would buy peanuts
for the sole reason of him throwing them from 3 sections over.
a split second, I made a decision. Springing from my seat,
I followed him all the way down the aisle to the front row
behind home plate. I think he was a little taken aback when
I came right up to him, not being used to people coming to
name is Captain Jason Grose, United States Marine Corps, but
I’m from here in Seattle and home for vacation. I just
wanted you to know that I remember you from when I was a kid
and you would throw me bags of peanuts in the Kingdome. I
don’t want to make you feel old but I’m coming
up on 20 years in the Corps and will be coming home in a couple
of years. I wish my son was here today because you represent
one of my best childhood memories about the Kingdome and Mariner
games as a kid and I thought it would be neat to cross the
generations and you could throw my boy a bag of peanuts. I’m
glad to see you are still making people happy and I just wanted
to say hello. It’s good to see that some things are
still the same after all of these years.”
said all of this while shaking his hand and he had that ear-to-ear
smile I remembered from my earliest Seattle memories. Then
he had something to say.
of all, I want to thank you for your service to our country.
Thank you for defending us and making us safe. I spent some
time in the Army myself a long time ago so I know what’s
involved. Thank you for your kind words and catch me next
time when you bring your son.”
was such a rewarding exchange that I can’t adequately
explain what it meant to both of us. He was an icon from my
childhood and I could tell he was genuinely flattered about
what I said to him. We shook hands with big smiles and I like
to think I made his day to the same degree as he made mine.
It was the best part of the entire game.
brother-in-law and sister-in-law used the other two tickets
so they showed up during the third inning. The game went extremely
fast (2 hours and 15 minutes) ending in a Mariner victory
which, since I had not been following the Mariners, I didn’t
realize, but a win was NOT a common event.
went home with Scott and Michelle and we got ready for yet
another required event while visiting Washington: Godfather’s
Pizza with Scott and Kristine.
not an option. We MUST eat taco pizza from Godfather’s
with Scott and Kristine every visit. We HAVE to! The very
fabric of space and time would fall apart otherwise.
jumbos. That’s what we had to go with. One full taco
and then ½ of the other one. The other half was beef
and pepperoni for the kids who were genetically faulted not
to like taco pizza. Freakishly wrong, I know, but who can
argue with the defects of genetic coding?
breaths. Concentrate. Don’t succumb to that pesky full
feeling. Five slices were in the cards. You can do it if you
should have stopped at 4. With jumbo slices, we’re talking
some big triangles. Scott went for the 5th piece and there
is no way I could let him outdo me. Bring on the 5th slice!!!
felt like I had swallowed a deployed airbag. But it tasted
so good. Is there any higher perfection that Godfather’s
taco pizza, no onions?
don’t think so.
then went home and exploded.
Advice for Today:
you ask someone to do something for you, let them do it
every life some rain must fall. Usually when your car
July 2, 2005
all started with a seemingly innocent comment. But she should
have klnown me better. She should have realized what it would
Alanis Morissette is going to be at the Paramount on July
Wheels started to turn.
that’s the day of my marathon and yes, Alanis is hugely
popular up here in the Pacific Northwest so tickets will be
tough to get but with all things considered, it became my
life mission to get tickets and go to this concert.
first move was to log onto the evil Satanistic Ticketmaster
and see what they had. I had low expectations and they didn’t
disappoint. Mezzanine level, way the hell back for $70 per
ticket. Actually they were $56 tickets but with “event
charge” (which it seems to me should be covered in the
ticket price. Hello, that’s THE EVENT!!!!), the price
it didn’t look good.
I cast out my net, calling everyone I knew to see if they
had connections. I seriously needed a “I know dis guy..”
situation for such a short fuse request. I called my two brothers-in-law,
I called my brother, I called my in-laws but to no avail.
If I was going to make the magic happen, I was on my own.
seems they have these ticket brokers who buy up all the good
seats and then sell them for exorbitant prices. How they get
away with this, I don’t know since it would seem to
be a bit more illegal even than my recent fireworks
purchase, but they had the tickets.
Carrie crapped herself. It seems she suddenly wasn’t
as hyped to go see Alanis.
Honey, she’s doing an acoustic concert of her Jagged
Little Pill album for the 10th anniversary of the groundbreaking
it’s Alanis and I’ve been listening to her for
on vacation and it’s my only chance to see one of my
favorite artists of all time!
called my brother and told him about it and to my surprise,
he was a huge Alanis fan. Must be something in our genetic
makeup because neither one of us is exactly the demographic
of the average Alanis fan. I mean, I don’t FEEL like
a bitter, jilted, jaded bitch. (oooh, I wonder if I’ll
hear about THAT one). Actually, her music is pretty deep if
you listen to it closely but it does border on a bit too existential.
my brother tells me that he was willing to go if I can get
tickets. Talking to Carrie, we decided that despite it being
a huge splurge, she would forgo the concert and that way we’d
only spend $115 and I’d be able to go with my brother.
Now that’s a sight: the Grose brothers going to an Alanis
concert. It’s almost too hard to even visualize.
called the ticket brokers and left a message but they never
called back. I finally got in touch with them and ordered
the tickets but they said the people that were holding the
tickets were not open on the weekends and since Monday was
a holiday, they couldn’t confirm the tickets until Tuesday.
was also worried that they would send the tickets to Virginia
since they didn’t give a choice between mailing address
and shipping address on the website. That’s why I wanted
to talk to a live person to make sure that they send them
to my in-laws’ house.
it’s a waiting game. I might be third row center, tired
as hell after a marathon, or I might be $115 richer, cramping,
and biting the pillow on that Sunday night. I’ll let
Advice for Today:
walk through old cemetaries and read the gravestones."
reduces anxiety by reducing the quality of the expected
product from the best of all possible efforts to the
best that can be expected given the limited time.”
50 Fun Things to Do in an Elevator
July 1, 2005
Around, Up, And Back
had a mission this morning. The marathon on the 10th isn’t
going to run itself so I needed a big run. Also, there is
a certain run that I have this thing with around here. I came
up with it years ago and it’s just one of those vendetta
runs that, depending on the shape I’m in, can get the
better of me or I can kick its ass with extreme prejudice.
Both has occurred over the years and I had a good feeling
about today. I felt like I could subdue the sickly little
wimp inside long enough to conquer this run.
first part is always easy: downhill for about a mile. And
I mean STEEP downhill. Since they are redoing the bridge at
the bottom of the hill, all traffic was closed off and I had
a clean run down. The weather was overcast and in the low
60s; beautiful for a good long run. No excuses.
to the bottom and onto the path, I was amazed at how good
it all felt. I didn’t even feel like I had started and
I think that had a lot to do with nostalgia for the run, being
home, and some memories of being out early delivering papers
when I was a kid.
test was about to begin. With a name like “Cemetery
Hill,” you know it can’t be a walk in the park.
Although there is a cemetery on the stretch of road, the root
of the name is more appropriately attributed to the steepness.
It’s more of a climb than a run. Cars have to downshift
and pedestrians can be seen taking breaks on the way up. It’s
just that nasty.
had harder times going up this monster but I’m proud
to say that I’ve never had it easier than today. Don’t
get me wrong, it hurt. Bad. But I made it up in one run without
stopping and getting to the top, I recovered quickly and continued
the run. I was amazed at how much better shape I’m in
than I thought and better than in past years when that hill
would have me for breakfast.
finished the run in 1:20, happy that yet another milestone
of this trip was complete. I had survived “The Loop”
and live to tell about it.
most of the huge family joined us at Red Robin and once again,
I stuffed myself silly in the company of my wife’s family.
But we all had a good time with a party of 12 and made a spectacle
of ourselves. As for me, I downed two 28 ounce mugs of Coors
Light and was feeling very little pain. All the kids were
wild and we made quite a scene but I was content to sit there
and soak it all in. With that many jazzed-up kids around,
I was in no danger of making a drunken idiot of myself and
after today’s run, it was just a sedative anyway.
dinner, we all decided to go to the Indian Reservation and
get some not-as-legal-as-the-authorities-would-like fireworks.
Getting there, it was immediately evident that this crowd
would make Wal-Mart shoppers look like Rodeo Drive. I felt
like Thurston Howell The Third walking around there and it
brought back memories of my childhood when I lived in a trailer
with my dad during the summer.
hate bargaining. Look, I got this much money, I want this
much stuff, let’s not bicker about it. This was not
the prevailing attitude so I just gave my kids $20 each and
told them to get what they could get. They could go in together
or buy individually and all I would do is make sure they didn’t
of the fun for them is the knowledge that they have $20 and
they are the decision maker. Like my own father did for me
when I was a kid, I let them have the fun of making the choices.
And like me, they took forever deciding the millions of variations
they could purchase with their magic $20 bill.
this was going on, Carrie was negotiating with the rest of
her family on how much they should all pitch in for the big
stuff. Our share came to about $50 so all tolled, I was in
for 90 bones and the variety we purchased was beautiful in
don’t know if you’ve seen the latest and greatest
when it comes to fireworks but if you haven’t, let’s
just say that with what we purchased, we could give the Iraqi
insurgents a run for their money. I say we should just empty
out the fireworks stands, take it over to Iraq, and end this
thing most rikki-tik.
got stuff. Big stuff. Big stuff that goes BOOM! Something
like 80 canisters of artillery and more rockets than I’ve
fired off during my entire 36 years. Someone was definitely
gonna get hurt. Hands were going to get blown off. Kids were
going to be rushed to the emergency room. It was AWESOME!!!