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Norquist Dinner

Wednesday, August 31st, 2005


- Unknown

This morning started with me being an idiot.

I heard that and NO, it was not an AVERAGE morning, thank you very much.

Last night, I set my alarm. I did not ENABLE the alarm function but I set it for 0630, by skippy!!

So I look up to see an amber 7:14 staring back at me and I was supposed to meet the guys at 0730. Well shit twice and call me Mary.

Marty’s wife’s grandmother passed away so he had to take off this morning. Travis was called last night and told to high-tail it down here, a five-hour drive, to take his place so he got in about 0330. I guess I was having a better morning than he was. It took 20 ounces of love (strong coffee) to get his head screwed back on straight but he stepped up to the plate admirably. Although he petered out later on when I invited him to join me for dinner.


I made plans to spend the evening with Brent Norquist who is going to be the Marine Corps’ newest Lieutenant Colonel tomorrow. He was one of the Four Horsemen in my very famous stories about marathon running. To recap, he took too many power gels that first year and end up blowing butt-mud like a slot machine hitting the big payout. I’m sure that he appreciates me mentioning this ONCE again so to counter that, I will point out my deepest respect or this Marine who, after tomorrow, will have gone from “cook to Colonel,” referencing his ascention from enlisted cook to where he is now.

I stopped my the convenience store to get him some man-flowers (6-pack of Coors Light), get his two girls a pack of Lik-M-Stiks each, and then shot over to the commissary to get Melissa a boquette of flowers. Hey, I might be a creiton but I know how to be a presentable dinner guest.

They fed me a BBQ’ed pork roast, some of the best-tasting pasta I had ever put in my mouth, green peas, salad and beer. And I should not like these people because WHY?

We had a good time going over past stories we’ve recounted many dozens of times and once again, I felt priveliged to be in the company of truly wonderful people.

But then Brent made me work for my dinner. It seems they put a water-proof fouton out on the back porch. Well, it wasn’t eactly water-PROOF but maybe leaning more towards water-RESISTENT.

In other words, it got jacked by recent rain and he needed help getting it to the curb for the trashmen.

Brent unzipped the cover because he wanted to save it and you can imagine what it was like inside.

No, no you can’t.

I said that it looked like a dead, bloated fat woman in various states of decomposition.

It smelled worse.

He zipped it back up with the suddenly good idea that we should just haul it out and removed the cover at the curb. (Why he even considered keeping it after the horror we saw inside is beyond me but he was practically a LtCol so who am I to judge?)

It looked disturbingly similar to two guys hauling a dead body. A dead body of a very fat person.

The damn thing weighed a metric butt-ton and not only was it hard to grip, but the cover seemed to be as good at keeping the putrid water in as it was at keeping it out. I had my coveted Mariner’s jersey on and the Hell’s Brew that was akin to Satin’s taint sweat was running all down my arm.

We finally lugged it to the curb and managed to remove the cover. Again, I caught site of the rotting, soaking mattress and it was all I could do to keep the fine meal I had just been fed from glistening on the moonlit street.

When I got inside, you would think I was about to go into surgery. I scrubbed all the way up both arms and still didn’t trust them enough to give them a sniff afterwards.

Later on, I helped Brent take some cardboard boxes to the curb (I know, working me like a $2 whore!) and as I laid down a piece of cardboard, my hand unintentionally dipped into a small puddle of water. I just knew instantly what it was: the mattress was draining and I had just reinfected myself.


scrub scrub scrub scrub…..

I’m such a damn princess.

Free Advice for Today: “In verbal confrontation, lower your voice to the degree that the other person raises his or hers.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.


Tonight Was Totally Unexpected

Tuesday, August 30th, 2005


- Unknown

Normally when you say this, it turns out bad but this was a pleasant surprise.

I’m on a trip with one of our contractors named Marty who was a Master Sergeant a few years back. We had made dinner plans with a guy named Carl who was our point of contact for this trip. Carl is a tall, lanky genteleman with a drawl and reminded me a lot of the scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz… and just as likable.

When we showed up at the steakhouse, Carl brought with him a Gunny Diamond so the four of us got a booth and started conversations that get started when 4 somewhat strangers come together to break bread.

It was soon evident of the situation I was in: all three of my dinner guests were at one time Marine Corps Drill Instructors.

Add some alcohol into the mix and we had the making of a great night.

If you think that Marines in general can tell some good stories, not only would you be right, but the average Marine cannot hold a candle to those of a DI. And I had 3 times the opportunity spanning many years of experience. It didn’t take long before we were hootin’ and hollarin’ about stories that are required to be heard to be beleived. Yeah, we ended being that booth of laughing, howling idiots that filled the entire restaurant with unbridled laughter.

Carl was from the old school and this well-mannered gentleman with the kind but grizzled face had a side to him that few people who know him these days could have ever imagined. Just through his stories you could tell he was one of those Drill Instructors that men all over the country will forever remember as “Gunny Wilson” the legend. The sheer power and intensity of his existence in those days came through in his storytelling and it’s not something he could manufacture. He was the real deal and his forminable ability to tell the stories conveyed his intimidation factor without him even trying.

Case in point was when he talked about going to DI School a second time. If they come back to do DI duty again, they have to go through the training again so he was there a second time. As a DI student, you obviously hold a lower degree of “juice” than acting DIs but one day he was walking down the sidewalk on base and he looks up to see an active DI with the Smokey Bear and all coming at him. Carl recognized this DI as one of his former recruits!!!

Carl looks at him and GROWLS “GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY WAY” in a low tone that conveyed a teathered fury.

The DI recognized Carl, POPPED to attention, and sidestepped to get out of the “student’s” way.

I couldn’t stop laughing at this story because it was so strange… but I could see why it happened and wouldn’t have expected any different behavior out of either one of them. The funny thing is that I am SURE that neither one of them felt any hard feelings at all about the exchange. It’s just the way it will always be between recruit and DI and neither would want anything different.

As a Captain, if any of my DIs were to come up to me THIS DAY and bark at me, I would respond in the same way this DI did. Yes I’m a Captain but that makes no difference. They wouldn’t do that but if they did, they’d get the same reaction out of me then, now, or when I’m an old man. It’s just the way it is.

Another point I will make is the way Carl’s face changed when he told the story. When he got to the part where he said “GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY WAY,” his face kind of fell, eyes half-lidded, and instantly he was a very scary man. I don’t think he intentially did this, he just turned the switch on for a second and he was the legend again.

As the night wore on, all three men took turns telling story after story, each one more entertaining and incredible than the last. I had little to add except my story about Brandon Scott (who I toasted with one of the Coors Light I had with dinner). I had a great time in the presence of greatness and felt honored to be included in such company. I went back to the hotel room with a smile on my face, feeling fortunate to have been present this night.

Free Advice for Today: “Remember that what’s right isn’t always popular, and what’s popular isn’t always right.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.


Time Flies When You Are Driving And Listening To Bag Of Bones By Stephen King On Audiobook

Monday, August 29th, 2005

Today I travelled to Camp Lejeune for a week long business trip and so far, everything went OK. I tooled down the highway, never got lost…

OK, so I went west 24 instead of east but it only took me a mile to figure this out (after picturing the entire United Staes in my head). Then I got stopped by a train crossing which stopped and started going backwards. Screw that, I got back on I40 and took the next exit.

I’m not saying that the BOQ at New River is a rat trap, mainly because it was a mouse that I saw scurring down the drain in the bathtub as I was brushing my teeth.

OK, fine. You wanna play?

I turned on the hot water and let it run for five minutes. Good luck with the scalding water down there Mickey.

Then I took the broken drain cap and sat it back in the hole only to have it drop flush. Great, I thought, I’ll play hell getting that back out. So I filled the tub with a few inches of water just in case Mickey wanted to make a reappearance by pushing up the drain cap. Welcome to Floodville, Part 2.

My other guest for the night was a cockroach the size of a small dog. It caught my eye as I was watching football (YES! FOOTBALL IS BACK!!!) when it crawled down the wall by the door. I got up matter-of-factly and crashed him with my shoe.

I was starting to think that if I find any more “guests” that I should make them share the room fee.

Lastly, I will comment on football.

Football is good.

John Madden is bad.

Thank God football is back but I’m not too happy that Madden did not have a grand mal seizure during the off season. Scratch that, he would still somehow find a way to make his idiot observations on the games. I gotta get pat Robertson to put a price on his head.

During the game, a guy got hurt and they stopped the game for 15 minutes. I don’t mean to sound callous…. OK, I do… cart his ass off the field and get on with the game.

“But Jason, these guys need sympathy and careful medical attention… blah blah blah…”

Guess what my answer is: league minimum is in the millions. You take the money, you take the chance. If you are looking for sympathy for guys who make more taking a shit than I get per year… well, the injuries are part of what you are risking. You are taking your chances by playing the game.

Compare this to the poor schmuck Marine who gets a bullet while fighting in Iraq. He gets dragged off usually while his buddies are being shot at for taking the chance, all the while making a fraction of the money football players get. Than the entire Battalion gets combined.

Sorry, not a lot of sympathy here. Drag ‘em off, collect your check, and let the controlled violence continue. If you don’t like it, I’m sure there will be someone right behind you to take your place.


Back To the School

Sunday, August 28th, 2005

Quote of the Day: “I’ve learned that you cannot make someone love you. All you can do is stalk them and hope they panic and give in.”

- Unknown

Remember what it was like the night before the first day back to school?

Nervousness, no sleep, wondering how the next day, the next year was going to unfold? The excitement of new clothes, new supplies, new teachers, new friends.

My kids are going through that tonight. It seems just like yesterday that we were celebrating their LAST day of school and they were looking at 2 ½ solid months of time off.

Now they are up there chattering in the dark, hours away from true sleep. He’s going into 8th, her into 6th. For the first time, they are going to the same school at the same time so not only is that comforting for the both of them (although they will NOT admit it), it’s also nice for Carrie who can now drop their butts off on the way to her morning workout at the YMCA. Before, they were an hour apart so Carrie had two morning trips to make and the second was inconveniently in the other direction of the Y.

Now Carrie gets most of her day back.

I leave tomorrow and will be gone to Camp Lejeune for a business trip all week so I have hotel rooms and eating out in store all next week.

As a last celebration of the summer, we rented a classic and I sat down with my kids to watch the original Back To The Future. For me, it was revisiting my youth and for the kids, it was a brand new show so seeing it through their eyes was a lot of fun.

I had to explain to them the concepts behind Tab, Pepsi Free, “heavy,” Chuck Berry, Huey Lewis, and well, what Biff was trying to do to Marty’s mom in the car. But the kids loved the story and that is a true testament to the quality of the movie: that the next generation can watch and say afterwards:

“Dad, that was a really good show.”

I guess I’ll have to rent the other two for them.

Sleep well, Knuckleheads.

Free Advice for Today: “Resist the temptation to buy a boat.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.


Wren Gives Me Another Chance Despite Jackassery On My Part

Sunday, August 28th, 2005

Quote of the Day: “THE BUCK DOESN’T EVEN SLOW DOWN HERE, So keep on going.”

- Unknown

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

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

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

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

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

And it hurts.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The software was from “WrenSoft.”

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

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

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

Then I get this email: Jason,

I just came across your blog. In particular the post, “Search Me, I Don’t Know!” – Monday, March 21, 2005

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

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

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

David Wren

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

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

Free Advice for Today: “Read acknowledgments, introductions, and prefaces of books.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

BLOG entry for this day from 2004

BLOG entry for this day from 2003

No comments are allowed on this one ... sorry

Bikin’, Bruises and Bugs

Saturday, August 27th, 2005

Quote of the Day: “Often, when I am reading a good book, I stop and thank my teacher. That is, I used to, until she got an unlisted number.”

- Unknown 15-Year-Old

The family bike ride started out by picking up Killjoy and Weezer where I had the distinct pleasure of introducting them to Trucky Truckasaurus. Of course since formal introductions were in order, I used Trucky’s full Christian name: Truckarius Truckasaurus. Weezer looked at me like I had broccoli growing out my head.

Fighting the understandable SUNDAY MIDDAY TRAFFIC JAM on I-95 (pardon me while I cuss profusely) we took about double the time to get to Mount Vernon. Yes, folks that’s THE Mount Vernon where old George slept there A LOT!

The ride was awesome and the weather cooperated with an overcast sky and cool temperatures. But two experiences stand out that involve a lot of pain.

First, on the way back I was tooling along at a pretty good clip going slightly downhill when I came to a wooden bridge where a man was hovering over a woman who was standing bent over and in obvious pain holding her side. Her words of wisdom:

“Slow down and don’t try to brake! You’ll run into the wood” (this last part said very bitterly).

I guess my daughter saw the whole thing and it was not all that pretty. Carrie said when she rode by, the lady was still splayed out and her bike was in the middle of the path.

Later as we were discussing to it, we got on the topic of the bike pedals that you can lock your specialty bike shoes into and I asked what happens if you wipe out.

Killjoy’s answer was instantly the Quote Of The Day:

“I guess you just take the wipin’.”

The other event was by the end of the bike ride, my lack of bike riding was starting to cause certain pain in a certain area, despite the gelliest seat cover money could buy. Suddenly, I had a desperate need to go watch show tunes. I think my exact statement was “I feel like Liberace after a night at Chippendales.”

The ride home was much better than the hell-ride to the trail and we made a pitstop at Wendy’s. Off course I had to make the joke that Killjoy resembled the Wendy’s logo and OF COURSE had to take it too far and follow the insult with the likes of Annie and Ronald McDonald. I am such an enormous ass sometimes. I’m sure Killjoy will second that statement. And Carrie will third it. And the kids…. hey, let up people… can we move on? …. geez!

When we were dropping Killjoy and Weezer off at home, Carrie invited them for a night of movies since none of us had any plans. It seems that Killjoy’s husband has the Looney Tunes Golden DVD edition that I’ve been dying to buy.

Yeah, that’s right. Looney Tunes. You gotta problem?

So they came over and we all watched Bugs Bunny once again get the better of Daffy Duck, a big fat opera singer, a baseball team full of thugs, Yosemite Sam, Elmer Fudd, and Pete Puma.

I guess my making fun of the gravity-challenged bicycler today came back to haunt me. As I was getting up to get another beer, I miscalculated the relative distance between my foot and the coffee table. As I lifted up my foot and committed my weight to a forward lunge, the top of my foot smacked the bottom corner of the table. Luckly, I didn’t fall but the impact was hard enough to cut the skin through my sock. That and a nice big golf ball on the top of my foot.

BTW, if you are wondering, it was the right foot so now after my ankle follies last week, I have two throbbing paws. Thanks for asking and stop laughing again.

Quick Freak-notes:

- Killjoy hates carrots. WTFO?
- Weezer doesn’t like Pringles. Just …… weird.

Great days, folks, great days.

Free Advice for Today: “Be willing to swap a temporary inconvenience for a permanent improvement.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.


Today I Decided To Call Gunnery Sergeant Brandon Scott

Friday, August 26th, 2005

Quote of the Day: “Talk the entire way through the exam. Read questions aloud, debate your answers with yourself out loud. If asked to stop, yell out, ‘I’m SOOO sure that you can hear me thinking.’ Then start talking about what a jerk the instructor is.”


OK, let me explain.

Lance Corporal Scott is a legend in my personal history. Probably not for the reasons he’d prefer but none the less, I have a deep affection for this Marine.

Brandon and I used to work together when I was young and enlisted and he was to me, a little brother that needed guidance. Brilliantly gifted when it came to fixing avionic equipment but had the social skills of, well, he had NO social skills. He was the lovable “lost-in-the-sauce” LCpl that everyone who has ever donned the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor, knows someone just like him. Sometimes you hated his innocence/ignorance but most of the time, you loved him for the same reason. You just couldn’t STAY mad at him just like you can’t stay mad at a puppy.

I’ve written many stories about Brandon and a few of them have been published in books. Here are the links to two more memorable works:

Lance Corporal Brandon Scott

The Ride Over

Recently, I learned that Brandon had picked up the rank of Gunnery Sergeant and that fact was the only thing that could have shocked me more than when I found out he had picked up Staff Sergeant. And that he was now in charge of the very workcenter I worked at so many years ago. You have to understand, as a young enlisted Marine in avionics, there were no Officers around and my entire world had a Gunny at the top of the rank pyramid. To imagine Brandon there, smiling, is just…. surreal.

Not that I doubted his ability or his maturity over the years, but for forever and a day, Brandon will be that LCpl I remember over in Saudi Arabia and the one who couldn’t stop calling my wife “ma’am” despite being nearly the same age.

I had sent him an email in June when I found out he was at Cherry Point, NC but he had written back saying that he was just on his way to Advanced Staff NCO Academy and would call me when he could.

Today I sent him a reminder email and it got kicked back and it was then that I noticed that his number was in his signature line of the email.

So I called.

“Workcenter 650, LCPL (unintelligible) speaking, may I help you Sir or Ma’am?”
“This is Captain Grose, is there a Gunnery Sergeant Scott there?”
“Sir, Gunny Scott has been sent to Iraq.”

I nearly dropped the phone. My heart doubled in speed and my eyes started to mist as I fumbled for a coherent reply. My reaction was just as unexpected as the news and I was surprised at the wave of emotion that gripped me, not the least of which was a sudden flash of anger.

I realized that Brandon is the only person I personally know who was in the first Gulf War that was now over there again. And it was more personal because he was over there with ME the first time.

Dammit, Brandon was over there in 90 and 91! He lived through the sheer terror of scud attack and chemical scare. He already did his time donning and clearing his gas mask in panic mode, running for the bunkers scared as a rabbit on fire, quickly putting on his chemical suit and praying that it wasn’t too late. His skin burned in the Arabian sun just like ours and he missed his family just like….

Oh my God. His family.

They are having to go through this again. For 7 ½ months they had to live everyday not knowing if their Brandon was OK. He came from a huge family who would send him video tapes of large family gatherings at Christmas. He would send a large portion of his paycheck to them because they needed it.

They were worried sick and now they have to go through a second round.


Back to the phone conversation, another Gunny got on the phone and I explained who I was and how I knew Brandon. He told me that they had left recently and they didn’t have an address to contact him but that he would forward an email to me so I could at least try to contact him through email.

It’s hard to explain how I feel but if you are a parent, in a way I feel like you would feel if your son was over there but then I realize that’s because I still look at him as that innocent Lance Corporal.

He is a Gunny so I have to look at it as if a brother was going over. Yes he’s a Marine and yes it affects me to hear about any of the Marines over there whether I personally know them or not.

But knowing Brandon and knowing he’s over there now… it’s different. It hurts more.

Brandon, get your dumb ass home and in one piece. And that’s an order, you stupid son-of-a-bitch.

Semper Fi.

Free Advice for Today: “Host a backyard get-together for friends and neighbors every Labor Day.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.


Red Rover, Red Rover, Let The Weezer Come Over

Thursday, August 25th, 2005

Quote of the Day: “Get a copy of the exam, run out screaming ‘Andre, Andre, I’ve got the secret documents!!’”


Last night I was the babysitter.

My wife and her friend Killjoy went to go see the Chris Isaak concert (why they felt the need to go when a just-as-devastatingly-handsome hunk of man like myself was waiting at home is beyond me) so I had kid watch.

Since Alex spent the night at a friend’s house, that left my daughter and Killjoy’s 7-year-old daughter, Claire, in my care. Two little girls in my charge. Hmmmm, can a Marine handle it?

I dropped off my daughter at piano lessons and then Weezer (her nickname) and I walked over to the mall where she darted directly for the Disney Store. Well done, young consumer.

This girl knows her Disney characters. It one breathe, she rattled off a collection of Disney heroines that was both impressive and startling. I could have ID’ed about half but she knew them all. Cold. She continued through the store, able to tick off characters of every shape, size, and era. This child was a walking encyclopedia of Disney knowledge!!

After the Disney Store, it was onto KB Toys. Yep, two kid stores in the whole mall and she had grid coordinates, like a moth to flame.

OK, mid-twenties guy working in the toy store kind of freaked me out. Something was “OFF” with him and I tried not to imagine him staying late after the store closed and having his own little fun time. (Why do I do that to myself? ***shudder****)

We picked up Steph and I showed Claire how the inside of a piano works. She was enthralled with the hammers and chords. So enthralled that I had to call a halt to the little adventure when I noticed others were taking lessons. Oops, kinda hard to play when me and Weezer are banging away on a piano.

Next stop was Borders. Steph and Claire got interested in pop-up books and Steph ended up reading a few others to Claire. It was good to see them getting along so well and Stephanie was a combination of a friend and a little mother.

We then hit Pancho Villas, which happens to be the best Mexican food in this God-forsaken excuse of a town, but Claire was not hungry.

Well, she WAS hungry enough to eat some chips and a Mountain Dew which come to find out is not the best thing to feed a 7-year-old, especially when they bring the full size cup instead of the child’s cup. But that’s OK because she had all of about 2 sips so good thing I bought it for her.

But her culinary night was not wasted because she got interested in making her own concoction she dubbed her “chip burrito.” Allow me to lay this out as Claire’s own special recipe.

Tear apart two French fries and extract the white potato insides. Put this on a rolled tortilla chip. Add a dash of salt, pepper, salsa dripping off fingers, a few drops of Mountain Dew and water (both dripping off the fingers), catsup…

And serve.

She ate the first one. She made the second one and gave it to me.

My magnanimity only went so far. I let the server take my plate away without touching the thing and she looked only slightly crestfallen until she created another one and gave it to Steph.

Steph took one bite out of politeness and then promptly spit it out just as Claire said something funny, resulting in Steph blowing the water she took to kill the arborous taste out her nose.

When we got home, we had fun with Photoshop. Years ago I had manipulated pictures of the kids with the various filters that Photoshop offers and they loved it. I got word that Claire thought the pics were wonderful when her mom showed them to her off my webpage so I decided it was Claire’s turn to get the treatment.

I took a headshot pic and went to work, showing her all the alterations I was making. We had a good time and I made a CD for her mom of all the crazy variations. With permission, I posted them and of course made my own unique comments like I did the other kids.

This was my favorite:

The girls spent the rest of the evening playing in Steph’s room and torturing Buster who, like the great dog he is, took it all in stride. I filled his Kong toy full of peanut butter at the end of the night so you know, payment received.

The big girls finally got home (OK, I’m really gonna get it for referring to them as “big girls” but come on, it’s to differentiate them from the daughters! Geez!). They claimed that Chris Isaak had asked them to join the tour bus after the show but had they had to decline.

Yeah, and good thing because I had to tell the same to Sarah McLachlan a few months back.

To sum up, I had a great time with two wonderful little girls while their mothers were out slobbering over seeing Chris Isaak from afar. OK, we all know who racked up Heaven points this night!!!

Free Advice for Today: “Remember that great love and great achievements involve great risk.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.


Still Zoomin’

Wednesday, August 24th, 2005

Quote of the Day: “Anything you do can get you shot, including doing nothing.”

- Battle Wisdom

OK, folks, as though you haven’t read enough about this, I have to include this latest volley between David Wren and his Zoom Search engine. Steady now, I think I finally got it fixed. This was my final email to him tonight:


Thanks for the quick response. I’m very impressed at your dedication to your product and appreciate the feedback help. Here is how it went:

The code you sent worked perfectly. I put it in, uploaded, and the highlighting showed up. Perfect!!!

“Some of our customers think the entire internet will fit into their 128MB of RAM and 40MB hard disk (no joke).”

That made me laugh out loud. And I’ve dealt with these people. My respect and admiration for you will quadruple if you tell me you handled it graciously and tactfully.

Now it’s my turn to make you laugh. I threw in a skip word, like you suggested, of my last name in all lower case. It made for a rather short scan since my last name is in the base URL. Skipped all my files.

Also, I brainfarted and threw in “blog” and then wondered why it didn’t index any of my blog entries.

Yeah, you said that the internet could fit on my hard drive????? Really?

As far as the multiple links to my blogs, I guess I will just have to live in it. I did what you said and put in /feed/ and /category/ which knocked off some hits but the way my blog page is dynamically generated, it puts the title of the blog as quick links as the next or previous blog entries. So when the indexer creates those pages, it sees that the previous (or next) entry has the word in it and tags it.

The inconsistent linking is probably a code setting in the WordPress software. For some reason, it defaulted to drop the www on the blog3 URLs.

Also, I kept the old blogs online because I have hundreds of links through out my webpage that link to specific blog entries and I didn’t want to go and find them all. So I still have the structure and when people link directly to an old entry from somewhere, it will go to that old file and format. All I did was change to auto-forward to the blog3.php file so that I didn’t have to go around and change all the references to the Latest Blog from the old to the new URL.

I know, kind of cheesy but it works and I don’t have to go and do a lot of replacing. Now all I have to do is pull the archives (one by one!!!!) over and when I run across a blog reference, I’ll change it.

I think my spider URL / base URL setting is working. It might be the same as you suggested, just broken up into two entries. If you think I didn’t completely understand what you were trying to get at and you think it will improve things, let me know. It’s just that if it seems to be working, I’d hate to fix something not broke. Because I WILL break it.

Anyway, as of now, everything seems to be working thanks to your great help. It’s good to talk to someone who actually understands what I’m doing and the explanations that I have.

Thanks again for everything.

Free Advice for Today: “Watch for big problems. They disguise big opportunities.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.


I’m Gonna Zoom-A-Zoom-A-Zoom My Zoom…

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2005

Quote of the Day: “It’s been lovely, but I have to scream now.”

- Unkown

If you recall, I configured a free search capability on my website years ago, loved it, then it broke, then I bad-mouthed it, and then the president of the company, David Wren, emailed me and backed down from my suggestion that they “kiss my hairy white ass” but WAS willing to send me a free upgrade (worth about $100) to test out the latest version.

That was back in June and you can read about it here if you want.

Well, tonight I got around to setting it up and here is what I wrote to him:


I FINALLY installed the latest Zoom and I wanted to thank you again for letting me use the professional edition.

I know you sent it awhile ago but after vacation, things got crazy and then I got involved in changing over my blog to WordPress. The Zoom project was on deck for so long that I finally decided I needed to forge ahead and see what you came up with.

You can see my search page at and I will give you a some feedback.

– I like the interface. You’ve obviously improved it since the first one when I had to go in and manipulate the setting straight from the files. The interface and help files are very helpful.

– I downloaded the plugins and they work great. (Once I scrolled down and read exactly where I put them (ha)).

– I use the spider method and like it.

– I reused my old template and now the search word highlighting function doesn’t work. It did before I changed the template so it may have something to do with that. I have it checked in the options and have re-indexed and re-uploaded everything.

– I had a hell of a time with the WordPress blog since it’s a php setup with an SQL database backend. The problem had to do with the fact that the folder was in but when you go there, the base URL changes to This made me explore the function you provide in the Advanced Spider URL Options.

At first I let it follow external links but that got a bit much since it started indexing the entire internet!!!

What I ended up doing was to make an Additional Spider URL with both the base and spider URL set at (of course after trying every combination of and possible). Not sure why this works but it does.

Unfortunately, it sometimes doubles up my blog entries because I suspect that when it generates these pages, it also sees the rss feeds and the “latest entries” on the side. Since they list the last 10 or so entries on my blog template, each time I re-index, the latest feeds will get double entries.

But that’s not the worst part of it. It makes like 8 of the same blog entries. I think this is the rss feed, the direct link, and a couple of other pulls from the database. You can test this by searching for “(I took this out so it wouldn’t screw up his search. OK, back to the letter within the blog…)” which shows up exactly one in my entire site: my latest blog entry, in fact. So You can see how it pulls it out of the database multiple times.

And yes, I did check the Duplicate Page Detection option box but I think the CRC-32 check fails because they are generated slightly differently and thus do not match exactly.

– Also, I put “Grose” on the skip list but when I search, I get 183 hits. This is strange that not only do I get SOME hits, but if it isn’t skipping it, it should get a hell of a lot more than that.

That’s about all I have for tonight but I wanted to thank you once again. As I continue to use it, I will update you on anything else I encounter.


– Jason

Free Advice for Today: “Focus on making things better, not bigger.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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