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Tis

Tuesday, January 31st, 2006

Quote of the Day: “I didn’t fight my way to the top of the food chain to be a vegetarian.”

- Unknown

I’m listening to Tis by Frank McCourt which I’m really enjoying. So much so that I actually look forward to climbing in my little Saturn each morning and hearing his Irish borough and then again on the way home. It’s actually making the commute something I can live with. I mean, I haven’t wished a fiery death to anyone on the road since I started listening to it.

The book is a continuation of Angela’s Ashes which I listened to a year or two ago. In that book, the author recounts how he grew up in a poor Irish family in Ireland. And when I say poor, I don’t mean not enough money to go and get some Krispy Kremes. I’m talking about no electricity, collecting coal scraps to burn for heat, and having tea and bread for meals, if at all. I mean “you probably won’t survive childhood” kind of poor.

Tis finds him on the shores of America as a teenager and his subsequent experiences getting into college and becoming a teacher.

What I like about it is that he comes from nothing but it’s more than that. You get to see, through his eyes, what we as Americans take for granted, and there’s a lot. I mean, he came from complete poverty where there was NO money and the basic needs in life were a day to day struggle. So to have him explain how he sees the opportunities in America is amazing. Or how he can’t understand how we think sometimes when, in his eyes, we have everything but still complain. He really puts things into perspective and I love the storytelling for this reason.

I don’t think it’s supposed to be a comedy but it comes out that way most of the time. Some of the more humorous parts are the ways he expresses himself. He has bad eyes and always refers to them as “two pissholes in the snow.” He refers to sex as “the excitement” and masturbation as “interfering with yourself.”

It’s not like he trying to be funny. He just is. He will bring some detail up and then naturally repeat it as a new way of identification thereafter attatched to what he is refeering to.

For example, he mentioned how he has “the crust in the eye” (you have to put in your own Irish accent for it to work). Then he’ll go on to say something like, “And there I am, and I don’t know why anyone would want to talk to me.. me with the crust in the eye and the bald head and the bad skin… but they do and I stand there with the eyes that look like two pissholes in the snow.”

I’m almost done with the tapes and I really don’t look forward to it coming to an end. My only condolence is that he has a new book about him as a professor and I will get to listen to that one too.

Free Advice for Today: “Get to know your children’s teachers.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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Run, You Magnificent Bastard!

Monday, January 30th, 2006

Quote of the Day: “If a mute swears, does his mother wash his hands with soap?”

- Unknown

Back to 2-a-days, at least for Monday. See, in my ever-evolving workout plan, I’ve gone back to working out 3 days per week (M-W-F) and running 4 days per week (M, T, Th, Sat) with all Sundays as a rest day. You know, like God.

So you see, Mondays need to be a two-a-day which although a shitty way to start a week, it’s coming off a day of rest.

I also reverse the normal gym schedule because everyone and their muscular dog works chest on Monday. So I do legs and shoulders so I have those machines to myself (who in their right mind does the most hated exercises on the first day of the week?). After back and bicep’s on Wednesday, it leaves Friday with chest and triceps. Although the most popular exercises, by Friday most of the wannabees have given up for the week and started their weekend slovenliness early, thus leaving the machines free.

At lunch, I ran the 5 miles and it sucked for a simple reason. At about the ½ mark, the road I was on merges with another road and with it came another runner. I got about 20 feet in front of him and of course, it created the situation where someone was right on my heels.

I was still quite a bit sore from Saturday’s 20 mile death run so naturally, I …. ran my ass to keep in front of the son-of-a-bitch.

This is how running goes, folks.

I was keeping ahead of him but I could hear him right behind me and my peripheral vision (which I was trying to use discreetly, with limited success, I’m sure) told me he was following step for step, even though I was pushing it. Bastard.

We were coming to a big hill that doubled as the 1 mile point where I normally stop and take my one-minute walking break. As I bolted up the hill (just KNOWING this would break him), I discovered he had closed the gap and was a mere couple of steps behind me as we raced up the hill.

I was not going to play this game. I stopped and I’m sure it puzzled him why I did so, after showing I had plenty of strength to go on. He probably thought I had spent myself, which I kinda had but I had 5 miles to do and had already went into all kinds of energy debt in the first mile.

Fine, let the bastard go and savor his little victory.

I paid for this little race for the rest of the run. I slogged 4 more miles but even so, I hit my normal mile breaks way past when I normally do which means the little sprint at first had carried over for the rest of the run.

When I got back, I did a little research about races around San Diego. I know, I’m counting eggs before they hatch and all but I couldn’t help myself.

Are there any running events around San Diego?

OH MY GOD!

Very quickly, I filled my dance card for 2007 with stuff I already knew about. Here is a schedule that will likely kill me:

San Diego Marathon Jan 21, 2007

LA Marathon Mar 18, 2007

WWW May 5, 2007

Bishop 50 May 19, 2007

Rock and Roll Marathon June 3, 2007

San Diego 100 Oct 20, 2007

If I move in September, I miss out on the Marine Corps Marathon, the JFK 50 miler, and the Umstead 100. The only one in 2006 that I would be there for is the San Diego 100 but that is putting cart before the horse. In fact, there would be no horse, just a cart sitting there since I will not be ready for my first 100 and wouldn’t even qualify yet (you need a 50 miler in the last year). In 2007, that should be taken care of by the Bishop.

So if everything works out, I will run the Wild Wild West in May and then not have another run until Jan 21st? Um, I don’t think so. I’m not trashing
8 months fo potential race time. I’ll find something else during that time.

It IS San Diego, after all.

Some other potential problems is that WWW/Bishop/Rock and Roll triad. The timing there is tight with only 2 weeks between the first two (which I’ve done before) and 2 weeks between the second two. But I’ve done worse with marathons a week apart and the 50 two weeks later.

The 5-month break between the Rock and Roll and the San Diego 100 is a little troubling but it’s coming off the triad and I’ll need the time and training for my first 100-mile race. But there is 3 months after that until the San Diego Marathon rolls around again so I’ll have to figure out if only one race (albeit a 100-miler) is enough for an eight month period.

OK, enough obsessing about running…. for now.

Free Advice for Today: “Display your street number prominently on your mailbox or house in case emergency vehicles need to find you.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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Come And Knock On Our Door

Sunday, January 29th, 2006

Quote of the Day: “ALWAYS PICK BUSY PEOPLE FOR THE HARD TASK.”

- Unknown

More good news about the possible San Diego move: Sir Phil owns a house that he rents out in the city.

And get this: it’s 6 minutes from the front door to the front gate.

SIX MINUTES!!!

That means no commute…. (stare off with a glazed look….)

It’s a 3-bedroom with a place for an office, fenced back yard, and $350 per month less than what I get for housing.

Here was my pitch to him: what better tenants could you possible imagine than the Groses? You know you’ve have rent paid on time each month for three years and we wouldn’t trash the place.

It seems he’s had trouble with the trashing situation in the past and currently, the schlep that is there now is behind on his rent. Since they signed a one-year lease in December, the timing might not work out but if they keep missing the rent date, it might just magically open up for us.

Anyway, I used Google Earth to see my potential new neighborhood. Did I mention Google Earth is the shiznit? Oh yeah, I did.

Things are looking good and of course, being the incurable pessimist that I am, here is where they cue things to start taking a downward plunge.

(Why do I write things like that?)

Free Advice for Today: “Dress respectfully when attending church.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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Did He Say 20?

Saturday, January 28th, 2006

Quote of the Day: “MOST RULES ARE NOT ONLY MADE FOR IDIOTS, BUT ARE IDIOTIC THEMSELVES.”

- Unknown

Today, it was 20 miles. On my chart, the longest training run I do before a marathon (except that I bump up the last 20-miler before the marathon to 26.2). After successfully completing 18 and 19 in the last two weeks, I felt confident that:

1. I could finish a 20 mile run
2. It would hurt like hell
3. It would hurt like hell

I was right on all three counts.

Let’s go over some of the things I learned on this run:

1. Eating two pieces of cold pepperoni pizza an hour before the run is not a good idea even if “carbs” is the main justification.

2. A full month is still not long enough for the TBS maintenance people to fix the common toilets, thus denying me my pre-run evacuation once again.

3. When you have a bad first two miles, your run is not going to be as great as either the 18 or 19 you did the previous weeks.

4. Leaving the house at 1:00 PM will not guarantee you get done before dark.

5. Closed gates to a road that snakes through live firing ranges is not comforting. Especially when going around them.

6. Covering the same ground for 57 miles over three weeks tends to get boring. There, I said it!!!

7. Using field toilets at an abandoned range is better than in the woods but TP would have made it a much grander experience.

8. Knee pain can literally bring you to your knees on a 20-mile-run. (I know this goes away when I recover and I have to keep telling myself that).

9. Losing any weight would help exponentially on runs like this, mentally and physically.

10. Having a wife that takes care of your broken body when you return makes doing these crazy thing possible.

Free Advice for Today: “If your town has a baseball team, attend the season opener.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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What A Difference A Day Makes

Friday, January 27th, 2006

Quote of the Day: “THE ONLY SELFLESS SERVICE OCCURS AFTER YOU REACH YOUR TERMINAL RANK.”

- Unknown

I got this in my mailbox this morning from the monitor:

“We might have an opening at MCRD San Diego, but it will be tight. I’ll have to scrub through and see.”

My first thought was “What the ^%#$&, I don’t want to go past…… San Diego?”

And like a big fat bear who just downed a barrel of honey, I sat back and dreamily let the thought lull me into a prolonged daydream.

San Diego.

Beaches.

Perfect weather year ’round.

Running Mecca of the Known Universe.

Full circle; Ending where I began.

I took this home and discussed it with Carrie. We had questions about the schools (not rumored to be the best) and housing (rumored to be very hard to find and expensive.). I absolutely did not want to commute into San Diego with its infamous traffic snarls.

But no matter how bad the job was, at the end of the day I would still find myself in San Diego California. For Carrie and the kids, there would be tons of stuff to do: Seaworld, the Zoo, beaches, and a million other fun things for them to experience.

We discussed it for a long time and decided that an extra year might be bearable if it was in San Diego. The more we thought about it, the more we were convinced it was something we could do. If I had to do 21 years, this was the place to finish it up (with an extra 2 ½% onto my retirement for good measure, bringing it to 52.5% of my current pay per month for as long as I wake up each morning and take a breath.)

Now all that left is to stress over the “MIGHT have an opening” and the “but it will be tight” (dismissing all the smartass sexual innuendo that introduces. Let’s get serious here, folks, it’s our future!)

Free Advice for Today: “Stop and watch stonemasons at work.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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The Soap Opera Continues.

Thursday, January 26th, 2006

Quote of the Day: “3 TYPES OF LEADERS
* THOSE WHO MAKE THINGS HAPPEN
* THOSE WHO WATCH – AND –
* THOSE WHO WONDER WHAT HAPPENED.”

- Unknown

Not too happy today about my future. Here’s why:

I want to retire on Oct 1, 2007. That will be 20 years, thank you very much, and in fact, more than 20 since I owed 4 years past my graduation from NPS.

My old retirement date (20 years and a day) was July 29th, 2007. Two months for a master’s degree? No problem.

The deal was that if the Corps sends me for a postgraduate degree, I would serve in a specialized billet for 3 years and not retire until 4 years after I graduate. The three-year billet is due to expire this November which puts me 10 months from retirement. As such, the regulations allow you to refuse orders to another base if you are within 12 months of retirement so with this protection in hand, I thought I would get another job to do on base for a year and float away to retirement on time.

My monitor had something else in mind. She wants me to do another tour. And just to make sure this happens, she pushed back my transfer date back t September and as a result, out of the window to refuse the orders.

Not only does this require us to make another move we weren’t counting on, it obligates me for an extra year since you are required to spend two years at a duty station before moving or retiring. So I wouldn’t be eligible to retire until September of 2008, a full year past my 20 year career.

I got an email today with two possible duty stations: Norfolk, VA and Camp Lejeune NC.

I’ve never been to Norfolk but those that I talk to didn’t like it. We have friends in Lejeune but do I really want to drag my family to North Cakalaki for two years? We are West Coasters so neither sounded appealing.

I’m resisting jumping on the “the Marine Corps screwed me” wagon by remembering the tons of good stuff that has happened over the years. I’m only human. But I’m also a Marine and I’ll do what they tell me, with a little kicking, spitting, clawing, and cussing thrown in.

And the only reason that’s involved is because this doesn’t only affect me, but more importantly, my family. Carrie will have to deal with yet another move and yet another stress-fest that is a PCS move, not to mention another year away from family in Seattle. Way back when we got married, we made a deal that if she followed me around this gun club for 20 years, we’d retire and get a house with a somewhat normal life.

The kids will have to deal with being “the new kid” another time along with the eventual experience once they get back to Seattle, plus it takes away yet another year of stability in high school where it’s most important.

OK, I have to stop before I get any more upset over this.

Free Advice for Today: “Keep a separate shaving kit packed just for traveling.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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But I Don’t Wanna!!

Wednesday, January 25th, 2006

Quote of the Day: “THE BLEEDING HEARTS THAT SAY PUNISHMENT CANNOT BE DETRIMENT DON’T KNOW MARINES.”

- Unknown

I didn’t WANT to do 10 miles today.

But that’s what my chart said.

It was windy.

It was cold.

Finally, I said “stop whining you bitch and get out there” and got bundled up. Actually, I got bundled up all except for my gloves because I’m a galactic moron and went out without them.

Here was my plan: I have an established 5 mile run so I would go out there (to OCS and back) and then…. do it again.

10 miles on a lunch break is not the best of times. At my slow pace of 10 minute miles, that’s 100 minutes and for you math whizzes, that comes to 1 hour and 40 minutes.

So I had to cheat out my lunch time a bit. If anyone minded, I’d just invite them to join me and that would be that.

When I got back after the first 5, my hands were ice sculptures. And I was not too happy with the whole wind thing. And for the love of God, I didn’t want to go out again. In fact, I didn’t even have that strong of a run and I had to go out and try it again. But I got my gloves on and trudged out.

After I was done, it was one of those times that the ONLY good thing about the run was that I had done it. I hated it, was pissed at it, and derived absolutely no pleasure or “runner’s high,” even to a miniscule degree.

So I called it even. I overcame the desire to NOT do it and the run got the better of my emotions.

Fine, bite my ass.

Free Advice for Today: “Hold yourself to the highest standards.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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Google Takes Over The Earth

Tuesday, January 24th, 2006

Quote of the Day: “WHEN YOU TELL A SUBORDINATE TO DO A JOB THAT VERY WELL MAY COST HIS LIFE AND HE DOES SO WITHOUT HESITATION…YOU HAVE DONE YOUR JOB AS A LEADER WELL.”

- Unknown

This might not be something new to you but I spent HOURS tonight on something very cool, in a geeked out, buck-toothed, Revenge of the Nerds kind of way.

I played around with Google Earth. Don’t know what that is? Well, before you go assuming it’s a code name for a local hussy, let me assure you that it was all on my computer. Wait, that doesn’t work either.

Screw innuendo, it’s a program. See, go look.

Basically, you download the program and I think it uses both your computer and a connection to Google to give you the power to get a bird’s eye view of practically anywhere on Earth. It uses satellite photos and creates a virtual Earth that you navigate like you have some high powered helicopter, able to zoom up, down, left, right, etc.

You can even adjust the tilt so you get an angle to see the horizon (but if you go too tilty, you get distorted flatness because you are dealing with 2-dimentional photos.)

Why is this cool? Well, you start with a view of the entire globe and then you can type in your address and BOOM! you are rocketing down to your house. Then type in the address of the house you grew up in and you pan out and zoom over to that house. When you get there, you zoom in. It’s all very smooth and just plain cool.

With such power, you get a little carried away. At least I did. I looked up every place I could think of (including my parking space at work) and spent hours looking at the surrounding areas. Before I knew it, it was the middle of the night and I really had nothing to show for my time except “That was cool.”

Beware, not only is this addictive but some of the sectors it has are pretty bad so suddenly you go from good detail to lame blobs.

Have fun.

Free Advice for Today: “Never overestimate your power to change others.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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We’re NOT Gonna Turn You On

Monday, January 23rd, 2006

Quote of the Day: “THE EASY WAY IS ALWAYS MINED.”

- Unknown

I’ve been delayed with my blog entries because I got the idea to look up the cast of the Electric Company and do a post about it. But I had limited success and it not only caused a delay because I couldn’t find much, but it made me ignore my research for fear of turning green and throwing the computer through my living room window.

Not that that would ever happen.

Probably not.

Anyway, I decided to take my limited success and make a web page out of it rather than a blog entry. I’ll let you know when it’s done.

It’s a vendetta now, folks.

But I won’t leave you empty handed. Check this out and if you can tell me how the hell he does this, I will be forever in your debt.

Free Advice for Today: “Patronize local merchants even if they cost a bit more.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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The Run And The Game

Sunday, January 22nd, 2006

Quote of the Day: “REAL PROGRAMMERS DON’T DOCUMENT. IF IT WAS HARD TO WRITE, IT SHOULD BE HARD TO UNDERSTAND.”

- Unknown

OK, here we go. The big 19 mile run.

After last week’s 18 mile success, today’s didn’t seem so daunting. I mean, I did 18 last week with little workup so not only did I have that knowledge behind me but I had the training of that run to help me with this one.

The weather was nice and I was ready. I had a good feeling about this and as I’ve learned, that’s the most important aspect of the run. I’ve said before that you could feel good and have a bad run, feel bad and have a good run, feel good, run good, and feel bad run bad but when you have the confidence and KNOW you are going to have a good run, chances are you are going to get through it with flying colors.

The weather was cooperating and I realized I had finally honed my running logistics to the perfect fit. In years past, I had worn a fanny pack but now, I don’t need them. With my running jacket, I could carry the Gu in my pockets. I had my Camelback so I was set for water and my iPod clipped to the elastic on my running shorts with the earbuds running up the back. Everything “fit” and I had no more bouts with binding gear scenarios. Best of all, my hips were free and there was no irritating slapping of the buttpack (I know, sounds bad) as I ran. And no cinching strap around the waist to remind me that it was not a pretty sight to accentuate that area of my body.

But there were trade-offs. The most glaring one was not having room for emergency supplies and when I say “emergency supplies,” I, of course, mean toilet paper. I just had to hope that I would have no mid-run emergencies and so far, I’m 2 for 2 this season on the long runs.

To try to offset this, I visited the public bathroom in the barracks. Like last week, there were handwritten signs on both of them saying “Do not enter for any reason” and signed by the Barracks Sergeant.

Unlike last week, I didn’t open the doors to see what the deal was. I mean, come on, you come across a sign that says “Do not enter for any reason” and you KNOW you are going to check it out.

I shouldn’t have checked it out.

I figure what happened was that the plumbing stopped working but this didn’t seem to dissuade more than a few visitors from shitting in the bowl. And for those of you that don’t know what a young man can produce with a diet they have at TBS combined with stress, let your imagination run wild. Then double it and let it rot in a un-flushable toilet for weeks. Lump in all the toilet paper handy and you have a reasonable facsimile of what I saw. And smelled.

OK, pre-run crap-fest was a no go.

Let me announce something I’ve learned time and time again. NEVER inventory how you feel during the first mile of a run and multiply it my 19. If you do, you will turn around and go home. Understand that it will get better, then worse, then better… and so on. The end will be what it is but by then you will be in a vendetta to finish the son-of-a-bitch and ignore the pain. You will think you feel the shards of bones splintering off and digging into nerves and flesh but you will not care.

(Don’t be fooled, it’s a trick. You are not doing permanent damage.)

I really can’t sit here and comment on every mile, how I got through it, and how I felt. I can tell you that my strategy of running for 9 minutes and walking for one is the only thing that keeps me sane. It’s also a handy way to tick off the miles and do the running math about how far and how long you have left. Breaking it up, I know it takes just under 1 ½ hours to get way out to the turnaround point at a 10-minute pace. Every 50 minutes I hit another Gu and water at each walk break.

It’s as simple as that. You just keep going and like I stated above, toward the end, you just want it to be done and that becomes the focus. Coming across the finish line with your head up high and looking stronger than you feel inside.

And it never hits me when I finish. I just stop, walk to the car, grab the Gatorade, and walk in circles for a bit. There is no immense sense of accomplishment. You just feel done. Later, upon reflection, you say “Holy shit, I just ran 19 miles.”

Because it’s 9 miles out there, I had to run back ½ a mile, turn around and go back to complete the “extra” mile, and then start again with the 9 mile return. The thing that sucks is that end of the course is the hilliest the one-mile augment is up and down hills. But I had a secret weapon this day. I stuffed a lean little Red Bull can in the casing for the Camelback and out there at the 9 mile mark, I popped that bastard open and celebrated that I had dragged it all the way out there for the “wings” it would give me to fly home.

I got home and tried to soak my legs in ice water like I had done last summer after big runs. Normally, this prevents too much soreness the next day and for 15 minutes of pure ice hell, I trade a day’s worth of utter pain.

Two things conspired to make this a bad idea:

1. The temperature of cold tap water in the winter is considerably colder than in the summer time.

2. My body temperature even after a big run is considerably lower after winter runs than summer runs.

What does this mean? I about had a heart attack when I got into the bath with ice thrown in. In fact, I didn’t get into it and wondered how I ever did before until I realized the two points above. The water actually HURT my feet and I tried three times but it felt like my feet had chugged a super-sized Slurpee. I was literally afraid it would stop my heart.

Screw it, I took a hot shower instead and a two hour nap that felt like as close as I’ll get to Heaven on this side.

Then came the Seahawks game and I know I’ve created a monster post I could easily double with my feelings about the game. I will point you to my other blog entry about it and just add one more thing.

Steve Smith, the superstar on the Panthers, pissed me off before the game even started so I was glad to see him dropped like a toilet seat for most of the game.

What caused my ire?

Well, Carrie Underwood did a hell of a job belting out our National Anthem and right before she started, the announcer said “Will you please stand and men, please remove your hats for our National Anthem.”

I loved this because it always bothers me when people don’t do this and it was the first time I’d heard them give these instructions. But when they scanned the players, they got a close-up of this disrespectful schmuck Steve Smith and he hadn’t bothered to remove his skull cap.

Did he think this was not a hat or did he just not care? Whatever, it set the tone for the game and I felt more than a little satisfaction when he got shut down the entire game.

Anyway, the Seahawks are going to the Super Bowl and this will lighten my heart for the entire two weeks before the big game.

Free Advice for Today: “When paying cash, ask for a discount.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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