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The Dentist… Yay!!!

Friday, March 31st, 2006

Quote of the Day: “Professionals are predictable, it’s the amateurs who are dangerous.”

- MURPHY’S LAWS OF COMBAT

Most people hate going to the dentist.

I love it.

Why? Because I know that I get it all for free and if I had to pay for it, it would be really expensive. That sounds really sick, I know, but it’s the truth.

When I was young and we were stationed at our first duty station in Yuma, AZ, they had this little clinic who only saw you if you only had 4 blackened teeth left. Otherwise, they had no appointments so for the first 5 years of my career, I never got a cleaning. Before that, I may have been in a dentist office less than a dozen times in my life.

Luckily, I was blessed with good, strong teeth so other than a few cavities over the years, my only negative experience was when they had to pull the wisdom teeth. Now THAT hurt.

Since becoming an Officer, I’ve been lucky enough to move up the importance ladder to where I can actually get an appointment. In Monterey, they were Nazis about it, calling me every few months for a cleaning which I was happily show up for.

Do I floss? Very infrequently but always leading up to an appointment. Because it ain’t no dentist appointment without bleeding gums.

(Random memory: some comic said that he was in love with his dental hygienist so he ate a package of Oreos before every appointment. I think it was Steven Wright. I’ve always wanted to do this.)

Anyway, today I went and saw the dentist for a check up and it was short and painless. In fact, the most painful thing about it was biting down on the cardboard film things for the X-rays. I’ve always hated how the edges of the cardboard bite into your gums and roof of your mouth. And the taste of latex gloves in your mouth leaves a lot to be desired. Couldn’t they lace those things with mint or something?

The dentist told me I had a little swelling toward the back on my gums but other than a cleaning, I didn’t need anything. He also told me that it was Daylight Savings this weekend and to tell you the God-honest truth, I had no idea. Glad he told me. Just another handy little service provided by your local teeth-puller I guess.

I really didn’t want to work out at lunch but I had put off the appointment with my trainer all week. I showed up thinking it was going to another light workout where I barely broke a sweat.

I broke more than a sweat this time. I think I broke a femur. And a testicle.

I don’t know what got into Troy the Trainer but he was out to hurt me today. Gone was the DAY of taking it easy. I finished an entire-body workout and afterwards, I practically had to crawl out of the gym. So much for the hour of bonus cardio I was going to sneak in.

Troy the Trainer likes to mix things up so we do all these weird exercises like standing on the inflatable half-ball while doing bicep curls. And overhead dumbell presses on that thing. It’s really tough to keep my balance.

The thing that really hurt, that really taxed my ovaries, was the leg curl. It wasn’t just laying down and doing a smooth curl. It was an explosive lunge where I hit muscle failure at about 3. Too bad I had to do 15. I was crying by the end.

I went home a broken man.

The ladies spent the day in DC and I met them at Fudruckers for a late dinner. Did I take it easy?

Let’s see, Friday night, hard week, soul-crushing work-out, late dinner… no, I pigged out like you read about.

And one final note. The credit card machine was acting up so the $30+ meal was absolutely free. I was thrilled at this because everyone knows that a free meal has no calories, no fat, and no carbs.

Score!!!

Free Advice for Today: “Use club soda as an emergency spot remover.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

6 comments


Three Maidens, All In A Row

Thursday, March 30th, 2006

Quote of the Day: “IF DEBUGGING IS THE PROCESS OF REMOVING BUGS, THEN PROGRAMMING MUST BE THE PROCESS OF PUTTING THEM IN.”

- Unknown

Yesterday, two of my wife’s oldest friends showed up. Not… old like they need Metamucil old but old friends as in they’ve known each other since junior high.

Every couple of years, they all three try to go on a trip or something, just the three of them, and catch up on life. Two years ago, it took the form of going to Chicago to see Oprah. Problem was, getting tickets to the Oprah show is like getting tickets to an execution, except men would actually want to see an execution. If it was Oprah’s, double score.

Anyway, Alison and Ang decided that coming to Virginia to see Carrie would be this year’s trip so they blocked off the time to fly from Seattle to here and do some good old fashioned visitin’.

I didn’t get to see them yesterday because their plane didn’t get in until late and by the time they got here, I was fast asleep. When I awoke to go to work, they were still asleep. A resisted the temptation to dump a pale of cold water on their bed mainly because I was late and it was actually my son’s bed.

Alison is married to Paul who works at Microsoft. Alison is a photographer. They are Mormons but the cool kind and I get all my Mormon questions answered by them. Did you know they don’t do coffee? Insto-disqualifier right there. Two of their three kids have the names Leo and Linda so when Alex was young and couldn’t say his L’s, he would say “Yeo and Yinda.”

We still use those names, much to Alex’s horror these days.

Ang is married to Bryan who works as a construction foreman. He works approximately 40 hours…. per day. They also have 3 kids and have lived in many, many cities over the years where we’ve been lucky enough to be close to, making visits easier. Bryan is an identical twin and a few years younger than us so since they started dating in high school, the running joke to this day is that Bryan has been the “baby” of the group and it’s inevitable when we get together, the age joke is thrown out there, usually involving Ang changing Bryan’s diapers and then making out with him.

There are a few other members of “The Group” that still keeps in touch from high school. When we go back, we all try to get together and we all are looking forward to my retirement when we will return to Seattle. Of all the circle of friends I’ve heard about, this one is the only one I know of that actually follows through with “keeping in touch” and “getting together” on a regular basis.

So it’s great to have a couple of reps from “The Group” come and visit. It almost feels like home, although hanging around with three beautiful women (one being a Mormon, no less) might raise some eyebrows.

Free Advice for Today: “Have some knowlege of three religions other than your own.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

2 comments


Careful Of What You Ask For

Wednesday, March 29th, 2006

Quote of the Day: “Semper Fidelis.”

- The Marine Corps Motto

OK, I’ve kept you people in the dark long enough.

I was kind of offered a job.

As the Headquarters Company Commander for MCRD.

Some of you will know what this means and that it’s command. Some of you will not understand so after I explain it to you, I will then explain why turning it down will cause the first category of you to wonder if I’ve lost my ever-loving mind.

On MCRD you basically have three big entities: Base, Recruit Training Regiment, and Western Recruiting Region.

Base takes care of all the infrastructure of the actual base and all the support functions to assist RTR in training recruits.

RTR is just in the business of making Marines.

WRR is the headquarters of the recruiting effort west of the Mississippi River.

Last week I got a call from a fellow Adjutant that I’ve known since I was commissioned. I went to TBS and Adjutant school with her we even shared the same base at 29 Palms as a first assignment. She is currently the Adjutant for Headquarters Company (Base) at MCRD.

She called up and simply asked, “Do you want to be the Company Commander for HQCO?”

To put it in perspective, that’s like someone calling up a substitute teacher and asking him if he wants to be the Principal.

Huh?” was my high-brow response.

It seems that I will be the senior Captain when I show up and they were looking for a Company Commander since the position was opening up this summer. She told her boss all about me and how I’m the greatest Marine ever to don the uniform so naturally, he was interested in wresting me away from RTR to run the Company.

In the Marine Corps, it’s kind of the universal desire of all Officers to “have Command.” This means that you are in command of a unit. You are the CO. The “Old Man.” You have certain responsibilities and powers beyond that of someone not in Command.

For example, as an Adjutant, I don’t “have Command.” I AM in charge of my shop and those that fall under me but I am not considered “in Command.” I cannot hand out Non-Judicial Punishment and I cannot promote someone on my own authority.

Having Command helps you in three ways.

1. Promotion. If you have had Command, that looks good and will help you come promotion time.

2. Staying in: if you want to stay in the Corps for a long time, you need to get in Command at some point. Having it will greatly assist in your career longevity.

3. Bragging rights: many people think that if you’ve never been in Command, you have never really been a real Officer.

So what am I waiting for?

I asked Sir Phil about this and his response and advice was a quote from some movie which went something like “If they ask you if you are a God, you say, ‘Yes’!”

So here I am being offered the chance to be in Command for the first and likely last time in my career. An opportunity like this, especially to an Adjutant (admin) Officer is beyond description. It just don’t happen.

But…. But…..

It’s one layer removed from the one area that has haunted me for my entire career… the Drill Field.

The one deepest regret I’ve always had about my enlisted career was that I was never a Drill Instructor. When I returned from the first Gulf War, I wanted to apply and had my heart set on being a DI. I could think of nothing else… except becoming an Officer.

Ideally, I would have wanted to go to the Drill Field and then afterwards, apply to the MECEP Program and become an Officer but when I talked to my career counselor about this, he told me that I had to pick one or the other.

Why?

Because the chances of going to the Drill Field and getting out without a bad mark on my record were slim to none. (It’s notorious for sometimes screwing up a good record even if you are not in the wrong). With a black mark, it would kill my chances for the Officer program which all but required a pristine record.

Also, I was pushing the age limit so if I did the DI thing and then applied for the Officer program after I was finished, I would only have one shot at the program before I hit the age ceiling and the odds were, it took a few tries to actually get selected. (Ironically, I nailed it on my first try.)

I went home and discussed it with Carrie. Either I go to the Drill Field and we get out afterwards (I was not interested in staying enlisted because in my MOS, 20 years would get you to only a Gunny and that’s if you were lucky) or I would go for the Officer program and we would stay in the 20 years.

It was a difficult decision but we decided it was a better choice to go with being an Officer. I don’t regret that decision but what it cost me was a deep scar of regret that I never donned that DI smokey and it’s something that’s never really healed.

So I was thrilled when I was assigned to go back to MCRD as an Adjutant and then I learned that if you are assigned to a Battalion, you usually get assigned as a Series Officer because they need Series Officers more than they need Adjutants (they forward all their paperwork up to Support Battalion anyway so that’s where they need an Adjutant).

Now I KNOW that being a Series Officer is NOT the same as being a Drill Instructor. But as an Officer, it’s the closest that I can get. And I’ll get to work with the two of my favorite flavors of Marines: Drill Instructors and Recruits.

Not everyone feels this way and the general accepted pinnacle of the average Officer is Command. But to me, if I give up this chance again (after suffering for 15 years with the regret of never becoming a DI), I will have missed my train TWICE and this time, it will be a scar that will last forever into civilian life.

Is it a chance I’m taking? Hell yeah. A year from now, I don’t want to be looking up at the Company Commander position and saying “God, why did I give up Command? For THIS?

And furthermore, right now I am slated to be the Adjutant so it’s not even a lock for me to be a Series Commander.

But far, far worse, I don’t want to be a Company Commander looking down into the trenches and realize I gave up the dream AGAIN!

So I gotta leap. I gotta thank those that want me to have Command, acknowledge that it’s an offer that is an Adjutant’s dream, a huge compliment of their faith in my abilities, and astonishingly turn it down to go down into the trenches and opt for the harder life.

I will be seen as borderline insane. Career suicide.

But I will be the first Officer a new breed of Marine will see and I will spend my final two years in a blaze of glory rather than a smoldering ember. I will end where I began, giving my last professional breath to those just coming out of the Marine Corps womb.

It’s not a hard decision. Just a hard one for some to swallow.

Free Advice for Today: “When someone wants to hire you, even if it’s for a job you have little interest in, talk to them. Never close the door on an opportunity until you’ve had a chance to hear the offer in person.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

25 comments


I’ve Been ASSimilated.

Tuesday, March 28th, 2006

Quote of the Day: “REALITY.SYS CORRUPTED: REBOOT UNIVERSE? (Y/N/Q).”

- Computer

(like I WASN’T gonna use 7 of 9 for the pic!)

I guess resistance really was futile.

Let me preface this a bit so you understand. There will be no political correctness here and I will reflect a widespread resentment, er, opinion of this situation.

A few years ago, the Department of the Navy decided to outsource all of the Navy and Marine Corps IT support. What does that mean? Well, that active duty military would no longer be doing all the computer stuff for themselves and instead, they hired a civilian company to handle it all. On paper, this looked good because we could use those Marines and Sailors to fight and we could save money by getting a professional company to manage all the IT.

We do not work on paper.

So for a long time, we had a legacy system and the NMCI system. If you had not been transitioned, you were still on the legacy system until everyone could be ported over. Then the legacy system would go away and we would be one big NMCI family.

There are millions of horror stories involving this transition and while it’s been a boon to the less technologically equipped units, there are cases where superior hardware and software was replaced by inferior ones. NMCI became, in essence, the great leveler as everyone settled on a middle ground of capability.

One of the big complaints is that NMCI is not military so if we have a problem, not only do we have to pay for just about everything, we do not have the response time we once enjoyed…

Ringggggggg
“Good morning , G6, LCpl Smith speaking, may I help you sir or ma’am?”
“Smith, get your ass over here and fix my computer. Capt Grose out.”

Now it’s more like this…

Ringggggggg
Ringggggggg
Ringggggggg
Ringggggggg
Ringggggggg
Ringggggggg
Ringggggggg
Ringggggggg
Ringggggggg
Ringggggggg
Ringggggggg
Ringggggggg
Ringggggggg
Ringggggggg
Ringggggggg
Ringggggggg

“You have reached the help desk of NMCI. If you speak English, press 1…”
“… if you have a hairlip and speak the ancient tongue of Guertipo, press 7867 followed by pi and the atomic symbol for boron.”

If you ever get through, then you get some guy who is as impressed at your station in life as he would be at belly button lint.

You then get a trouble ticket number and if you are lucky, will have your matter resolved before the next time Haley’s comet comes around or the Earth blows up, whichever comes first.

Today was my day to be assimilated. I was to make a folder called MIGDATA and put everything in there that I wanted them to transfer over to my new computer.

It seems that most people have a horrible time with all of this but for me, because I know a bit about these things, was prepared and I actually made out like a bandit. It only cost me some time but in return, here was my upgrades.

New laptop with slightly faster processor.
Doubled my RAM from 256 to 512 (which is still a joke since I have 2 Gig at home).
Office 2000 to Office 2003.
New keyboard (ironically the same one I fought tooth and nail over a few months ago)
17 inch monitor to replace my 19 inch monitor (I told them to pound sand, I was keeping the big one).
CD Burner, although they didn’t give me the software to run it and said I would have to put in a request and then have my unit pay for it.
New mouse.

They took all day to install it and other than not getting my Blackberry to work and not being able to use Word as my email editor, everything else transferred smoothly. I also lost my ability to check my email from anywhere using Outlook Web Access but once they get the Blackberry working, that won’t be an issue.

But through all of this, I thought the most stereotypical example of the bureaucracy of NMCI was exemplified when the “transition specialists” showed up to install the Ground Training Branch (GTB) machines down the hall.

Remember the microwave incident the other day? Well, GTB moved to another building so last Friday, they moved EVERYTHING (furniture, files, cabinets, computers..). Ironically, they were scheduled to transition to NMCI the next week (this week) but they were literally gone.

Well, NMCI has three hands that do not talk to each other: the delivery guys, the transition specialists, and the account managers. So when the delivery guys showed up with GTB’s computers, the paperwork said to deliver it to this building and by God, the fact that there were EMPTY OFFICES would not deter them. Wasn’t their job to do anything but deliver these computers to this building. Period.

So the transition specialists would introduce common sense here, right?

Nope, their job was to transition the computers and set them up where the paperwork told them to.

So they did.

What was the final decision for this situation? To set up the computers in the empty offices as contracted and then charge the government to move the seats from here over to their new building.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you NMCI.

Free Advice for Today: “Always have something beautiful in sight, even if it’s just a daisy in a jelly glass.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

3 comments


Clean Up On Aisle 1

Monday, March 27th, 2006

Quote of the Day: “PROGRAMMERS DON’T DIE, THEY JUST GOSUB WITHOUT RETURN.”

- Unknown

OK, the first morning with the treadmill was not exactly a success.

I woke up and since I’ve been running on treadmills for years, it was not too much of an adjustment to use one even if this was the first time on this treadmill in my downstairs living room. I was a treadmill god. I was the poster boy for the entire treadmill Matrix!

Well, Matrix god had a little episode.

I decided a 30 minute run was a good introductory and got to work. Other than sweating profusely, more than usual, it was not much different than other workouts.

Oh, and having the TV turned up loud enough to move around objects in the room in order to hear it over the treadmill was a bit disturbing to the family who was still trying to sleep. But that was ok because all the cussing at the end more than made up for it.

You see, after watching some videos to include Shakira (who has a new song called “Hips don’t Lie” which, let’s face it folks, is just about all she’s got in the talent department) and the Pussycats (yeah, VH1 isn’t oversexed these days or anything), I was at 27 minutes and looking forward to the end of my first workout on the new machine.

Then without warning, the large, full water bottle that I had wedged in the holder had worked its way out. It was just a little too big and the vibration of the machine inched it out of the holder (that sentence should garner a ton of spam I don’t want). So at 27 minutes, the bottle popped out, hit the side bar, and careened down in slow motion so you would think I would be able to save it, right?

no.

It was one of those situations that all I could do was watch it like a monkey looking at a schematic of the Space Shuttle.

It hit the side of the treadmill, the lid popped off, and a quart of water gushed all over the floor and running surface.

“FUCK!”

And that was the calmest thing I said.

I wandered around wondering if I should clean it up or finish my workout or pause my workout or…. just stumble around confused while cussing really loudly.

I went for the last option. Then I grabbed some dirty towels from the laundry room and dabbed up as much as I could.

After I finished the workout, I wiped up all the water I could, moving the machine and getting in all the nooks and crannies, wondering what water would do to the electronics of my brand new treadmill that I had for a whopping 12 hours.

“Did the TV bother you this morning?”
“It woke up Alex but it was more of the cussing that woke me up. What happened?”

I explained it and then she told me how Buster had crawled up on her chest (he’s 66 lbs) and shook uncontrolably.

Thus ends my introductory treadmill experience.

Free Advice for Today: “Steer clear of restaurants with strolling musicians.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

9 comments


Tread Lightly and Carry a Big Wallet

Sunday, March 26th, 2006

Quote of the Day: “PROGRAMMER – A RED-EYED, MUMBLING MAMMAL CAPABLE OF CONVERSING WITH INANIMATE OBJECTS.”

- Unknown

Today I wanted to get everyone out of the house. If I didn’t act, Carrie would clean, Alex would park himself in front of the computer, Stephanie would sit in bed and watch TV, and I would … find constructive projects to further humanity.

OK, I would do what the boy was doing but that’s beside the point.

So I suggested we go to the base and go on a nature walk. After getting the grumbling kids into the Pilot, we headed for base and found the path near the water.

Everything went fine except everyone but me was convinced that the sign that said it was only ½ mile was full of crap. It was a lovely day and other than squashing the boy’s annoyance factor (he’s at that age), everyone had a good time. We even climbed a long, slanting log which freaked Alex out because he’s scared of heights. But he overcame and got to the end, where I pushed him off and laughed maniacally.

After the walk, we headed to Potomac Mills Mall where there was approximately 15 billion people. I hadn’t been there in years and the only vivid memory I have of the place was visiting there out of sheer boredom when I was going to the Basic School in 1998. It hadn’t changed much. Still big, still full of a sad slice of humanity.

We wandered into the Sports Authority to look for an Under Armour (Protect This House!) hat but instead, decided to replace that with a treadmill.

Yeah, really.

We had been looking at treadmills on Craig’s list because we figured that most people buy them and then let them sit pretty much unused until they sell them for a fraction of the cost that they bought them. But you don’t get any kind of warranty or anything so we were still deciding what to do.

Well, the old Sports Authority had this big sale on the one treadmill I really dug. It was the Proform 600 and it was down from $799 to $550 which is about the price we were looking at for a used one.

After a little bit of discussion, we decided it was the thing to do and we counted it as our anniversary present to each other. I know, stop swooning, Ladies.

We had the Pilot but as you can imagine, the box was ginormous. We had to fold both the back and middle seats down which left the kids on the side, squished for the hour-long ride home. But for some reason, the concept of a treadmill thrilled them and it was a small price to pay to have such a fun toy in the house.

They will learn. It will be painful but they will learn.

When we got it home, we ran smack into the reality of not having a dolly. No, not a cloned sheep (although that might have helped) but something to help roll this monster into the house.

We got it on the ground and then decided our only course of action was to walk it which to Carrie meant that she should start by lifting one side and dropping it on my toes.

Somehow this was my fault.

We finally got it in the house and I cut the cardboard away to reveal more “some assembly required” than I would have liked but I wanted to use it in the morning so I had to deal with my fatigue.

It went pretty smooth except ONE bolt refused to go in. There’s the bolt. There’s the threads. There’s the receptacle. Everything is a go. WHY WON’T IT GO IN?!!!

After 5 minutes of fumbling and cussing (and a swift smack for good measure), I finally had to unscrew one of the other three identical screws and use it.

I hate mechanical stuff. It has something personal against me. All things mechanical. I know this seems unlikely but it’s the truth. Weird, huh?

We got it set up and everything worked so now, all I have to do is run a few thousand miles on it to make it worth the money.

No problem.

Free Advice for Today: “In business and in family relationships, remember that the most important thing is trust.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

6 comments


Half Her Life

Saturday, March 25th, 2006

Quote of the Day: “Don’t take life too seriously, or you’ll never get out alive.”

- Unknown

Well, I got away with it another year. This makes 18 which is exactly the age my wife was when we married. So she has been married exactly half her life.

To me.

I know, crazy.

Today, we celebrated 18 years of marriage and to show you how far I have come, I got a present AND a card (from Hallmark, no less) a full 24 hours BEFORE the anniversary. Yes folks, I was an entire day early.

I’ll give you a minute…

The morning started at 0330 because this was when this conversation started..

“Jason, you are thirsty. You are thirsty like Sara Jessica Parker is horse-faced. In other words, you are like near-death thirsty.”

So I stumbled up out of bed, grabbed my humongous plastic Slurpee cup by my bedside, and filled that sucker up in the bathroom sink.

Down the hatch it went until I appeared pregnant.

I laid back down with the sound of the sea filling the bedroom as I sloshed back and forth and the conversation continued.

“You drank too much, Jason. And Buster is taking all your leg room.”

Would you SHUT UP?!!!

It was no use. By 0400, I realized this was one of those very few times that my body just wants up and I can no longer sleep. The only thing that lessened the blow was that I knew I would nap later. I would nap like a friggin’ coma patient!

I got up and started to answer email. Yesterday I had sent out one of my very infrequent mass mailings when I finished my Shamrock Marathon pages while forgetting that if I send something like that out, I will get approximately 10,000 responses.

I spent hours thanking all the kind people who wrote. At about 0530, I emailed Sir Phil and knowing that he was up (it’s Sir Phil after all), I asked him if I could wander over AROUND 0630 and we could take the dogs for a walk. He agreed and I went back to the emails.

Well, I got involved, this happened, that happened, and well, I didn’t get out of the house until 0630 and since it takes about 10 minutes to get over there, I knew he wouldn’t be too happy.

But Buster was ecstatic. Then again, Buster is ALWAYS ecstatic.

Oooh, ooh, ooh, euthanasia? What’s that? No matter, we are going for a ride, oooh, this is fun, weeeeee….”

I found Sir Phil walking back from a pre-walk and when I exclaimed that it WAS AROUND 0630, he simply said, “No, it’s not.”

I parked my car (in his neighbor’s driveway by accident because

1. He lives in the Stepford neighborhood,
2. I hadn’t been there in awhile and
3. I’m an idiot.)

We took the dogs on a long walk and they had a blast while Sir Phil and I had a great catch-up conversation (the contents of which I’ll explain tomorrow.)

Everything was great until we got back into my car and after about 5 seconds, I started to perceive a certain odor. Was it me? No, I shower once a day, sometimes more.

What the hell is that smell?!

One look at Buster’s guilty face and I knew.

Two times during the walk I caught him rolling and rubbing on the ground. This would not be the first time and to adequately explain what this idiot pooch is capable of, I tried to find another post when he did this last time but came up dry. I write too much.

So now we are in the car and there is a large dark stain on his neck. The inside of the car smells of something near shit mixed with decaying entrails.

We had to drive home with the windows down, heat fully cranked and pointing at ME because it was a bit nippy.

When we got home, I just knew he had rubbed his big stupid head on the upholstery of the car and I’d play hell trying to get that smell out. Damn dog.

But what could I do? He had no idea so I couldn’t yell at him. Hell, he thought he did a GOOD thing!

I took him directly upstairs and he managed to jump on the bed before I yelled at him, scaring a sleeping Carrie in the process.

Happy anniversary, Honey. I’m yelling at a shit-smelling dog on your bed as a wake up. Ain’t life grand?

Buster knew the score even before I grabbed a handful of old towels and the rest of the doggie shampoo. Normally, I’d be careful of getting water in his ears but this required the entire treatment. The wash, wax, and detailing so I didn’t hold back when it came to scrubbing his head, leaving nothing untouched.

Anyway, doesn’t water get in a dog’s ear when he goes underwater? Granted, Buster NEVER gets near water voluntarily but in the general case, does not a submerged dog, by definition, get water into his ears?.

I scrubbed that dumb head until it was a big foamy suds-ball. Then I rinsed it for a half hour before starting the process over. Three times we did this and Buster was not too happy about this but I think he could sense I was even less happy about his new cologne attempt.

Afterwards, I paraded him around to each of the other family members, fresh from their night’s sleep, to smell the dog. I needed to know if they could detect any lingering stench and first-thing-in-the-morning nose was the best test.

Stephanie thought she could smell a little bit and so did Carrie but Alex didn’t smell anything. I figure I’ll just try again in a few days to take care of any lingering nasty with the fringe benefit of harassing Buster again, although he’s too dense to associate the increased bathing routine with his choice to roll around in foul mystery matter.

For dinner, I took Carrie to Logan’s steakhouse where I horsed down steak and ribs. Mmmmm, steak and ribs. Carrie got her fill too, although not as much as I did because by the time we left, I felt like Bloato of Bloatington as we made our way to the movie.

We saw Inside Man with Denzel Washington and while it wasn’t too bad, for some reason my eyes decided to have some kind of reaction and I spent the whole movie squinting and trying to ignore the itching and burning of both my eyes. When we got home, it was better so I have no idea what happened. I might have got some of my cologne in my eyes. That’s wht I get for “gettin’ fancy.”

So overall, we had a great anniversary and spent some time together. It was a far cry from the Friday we spent 18 years ago where I had tests all day and then got married in the afternoon, returning to the cockroach-infested shack that we first lived in. I must say my life has improved dramatically since then and I feel lucky to have someone like Carrie to share that with. Without her, I don’t know where I’d be.

I don’t want to know.

Free Advice for Today: “Never date anyone who has more than two cats.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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The Law of Averages Meets the Law of the Land

Friday, March 24th, 2006

Quote of the Day: “I DRIVE WAY TOO FAST TO WORRY ABOUT CHOLESTEROL.”

- Unknown

I’m in a controlled rage when I’m driving home. I admit it, I drive fast and weave in and out of slow-moving, cell-phone chatting, oblivious-old-people drivers from work to I-95 and after 3 years, I have every trick in the book mapped to deal with the widespread retardation that is I-95.

But like most people, I know that I am a superior driver. I have a heightened sense of physics to gauge the direction, momentum, and intended vectors of each idiot that clogs my path. Together with common sense, I normally prevail and safely maneuver through the moron parade and leave them to duh their way home behind me.

I have been in exactly one wreck in my adult life and by all accounts (mine, Carrie’s, and the other driver), it was not my fault. The guy suddenly pulled out in the middle of the road, couldn’t decide to move forward or back, and froze. I was going downhill on a wet Seattle road going the speed limit but the wet pavement and lack of reaction time afforded me meant that I slid forward and t-boned him going about 20 MPH. It put a good reminder in his truck and my little Nissan Sentra only lost a turn light and had a little bumper damage. When he settled, I bought a bookcase with the money.

Anyway, today I’m doing my normal safe/speedy routine when I come up to the not uncommon shit-pack clogging up the large-intestine that is I-95. You know the one, about a dozen idiots globbed together, blocking all lanes while there is open road to the horizon in front of them.

I’m the caboose in this imbecile train waiting for an opportunity when all the sudden, the right lane opens up when some retard with a “Git-R-Dun” sticker cuts off someone in the number 2 lane for no apparent reason.

I dash over to the right lane and accelerate past the constipation, looking forward to the sweet experience of open road. The only other person in my way was Granny Oldsmobile with the entire collection of every Beanie Baby made in the last decade clogging up her rear window.

If I punch it, I can get in front of the bubble, pass on the left of Granny, and have my choice of the #2 and #3 lanes open to infinity. Man, was this gonna be sweet.

And it was, until I saw a cop with blaring blue lights coming up behind me in the center lane going about 100 MPH.

Maybe there is an accident ahead, God, please let there be an accident, come on….”

I put my blinker on and get into the right lane and to my dismay, the cop swerves over (still going pretty damn fast which is why I thought he was on his way to a real emergency) and gets behind me.

Shit.

I pull over and hear the drumming of the grated shoulder. I come to a stop and reach for my wallet. For some reason I still don’t know, I unbuckled my seatbelt but caught myself and buckled it again, thinking I just screwed myself because he’ll think it was off and I was trying to get it back on.

When I went to roll down the window, I accidentally bumped the windshield wiper which was no where near the window control.

I really was not freaked out so I don’t know why all this was happening.

The officer walks up to my open window and says,

Good afternoon, Sir.”

Hmm, seemed polite enough. And kind of young but was dressed to the hilt of a state trooper with smokey and all.

Good afternoon, Sir.”

Is there a reason you were driving like that?” was his next question but he said it in a way that was almost conversational.

I didn’t think it was the time nor place to say,

“Because I am a sociopathic driver and for three years I’ve been dealing with the fucked up population of hicks, housewives in grocery-getters, political tail-waggers, and government bloodsuckers who are either pontificating on their cell phones and/or finding it necessary to leave 20 car lengths between them and the next cellphone jabbering ass-stain who is doing the same, all the while wondering why the traffic is so backed up every day of their miserable lives. For a few more months, officer, I have to deal with Spotsyltucky and all the requisite retardation at which time I will happily speed out of your overpopulated, under-developed crap-pile of a state and never look back. Ever.”

Instead, I looked at him and simply said “I just wanted to get home, Sir.”

“Where do you live?”

“Fredericksburg, Sir.”

“Are you still active duty?”

I never handed him my military ID so with the Marine Corps sticker, the haircut, and the green T-shirt, he must have made the connection.

“Yes Sir.”

“Do you have your registration?”

I fumbled through the glove box and he had to help me pick out which of the half dozen papers were my registration papers since Virginia requires you to have state, county, city, neighborhood, lot, and bathroom location documentation and inspection flotsom.

“OK, I’ll be right back.”

The way the conversation went, I just knew I wasn’t going to get a ticket. I really wasn’t nervous, upset, or all that annoyed that he had pulled me over. I had a strange calm about it and although I knew he had me dead to rights, I could just FEEL he wasn’t gonna nail me.

I saw him coming back in my side mirror without a ticket. He just had my license and registration.

OK, I’m gonna let you go with a warning today but try to keep the speed down and the driving under control.”

Thank you Officer.”

… don’t say anything else. Don’t try to thank him again. Don’t tell him how much you appreciate it or how it was your anniversary tomorrow and how you wanted to stop by the mall and get a card and a gift….

Just go.

That’s exactly what I did.

In the end, I think my honesty was what helped me. Oh, not the rant that I feel most of the time that always stays either in my head or on my blog but the explanation that I just wanted to get home. I didn’t try to talk him out of giving me a ticket. I offered no lame excuse, I just told him how it was and waited for the ticket. He had me dead to rights and let me go.

In San Diego, I know there will be frustrations but I’ve driven there on business and it’s not nearly as bad, believe it or not. Plus, I plan to live near the base so there will be no commute on a clogged Interstate every mind-numbing day.

So, OK, I guess I can keep my rage under control for a couple of more months before I move and in the end, isn’t that what the real purpose is for being pulled over? The monetary fine would have been just a little extra sting.

Free Advice for Today: “Wonder.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

12 comments


Stephanie and I Go Socialing

Thursday, March 23rd, 2006

Quote of the Day: “I may be too drunk to walk but, By God, I’ll crawl like a Marine!”

- Unknown

Tonight was a great night. I had a father-daughter social night even at my daughter’s school.

I had been looking forward to this for a week since I found out so before I went, I showered again, shaved again, and got all dressed up. I even put on cologne!!!

(side joke: why do women wear make-up and perfume? Answer: because they’re ugly and they stink.)

(OK, maybe not appropriate for this post but damn funny.)

Steph got dressed up too and we were ready for our “date.”

We got to her school and I put on my nametag as instructed. Looking around, I found it humorous that the military fathers were dressed up in suits and impeccable outfits while the civilian fathers, on the whole, looked like they did the best they could. I’m just sayin’.

We sat down where we filled out a questionnaire and I got to meet some of the other fathers who seemed a bit less comfortable about being in their current situation than I was mine. Over the years, I’ve instituted a date night routine with Stephanie about once a month so this was nothing new. But that didn’t make it any the less special for me. I have grown close with my daughter in the last few months probably because she’s let up on the eye-rolling when we are in public and I’ve toned down my hugs and kisses in public view.

The first event was a Jeopardy-type of set up where we were separated; all the dads on one side and the girls on the other. As a group, the dads were asked questions the daughters would know and vice versa.

But what they didn’t know what that we had a ringer because I’m so hip that it’s crazy!

It was the father’s turn first and our question was, which come in odd sizes, junior or misses.

The fathers looked around helplessly. Out of 25 dads, no one was for sure. Or maybe one was but probably knew we’d all jump him and beat him senseless for being some kind of fairy. For whatever reason, we guessed wrong.

The first question for the daughters was “Who sang ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun?’”

Nary a preteen daughter had a clue. Of course all the dads answered “Cindy Lauper” in unison. Score one for the dads.

It was our turn and the question was simply, “Who sings ‘Yeah’?”

In a normal population of dads, this would elicit the expected and confused head turns to other dads but as I said before, we had cool-Dad-Viper all up in this house so of course, just as the confused heads started to turn (which was about half a heart-beat), I blurted out “Would that be Usher featuring Ludicris and Little John?”

The moderator looked at me like I had just violently shot polka-dotted jello out of my ass.

The girls were then asked to finish this line from Top Gun: “I have the need…”

They finally settled on “… for speed” but didn’t get the CORRECT answer which is of course “… THE NEED for speed.”

Did we give it to them?

Hell no, they were WRONG!

My next wisecrack came when it was the girls turn again. Here’s how the conversation went:

“In what occupation would you use a stud finder.”

The girls looked around confused and then started guessing random occupations until one girl blurted out “Cowboy?”

Being the incurable smartass, I had to blurt out equally as loud… “I see someone has been watching ‘Brokeback Mountain.’”

Oh, stop it, they couldn’t have known and all the adults thought it was the funniest thing they had ever heard.

The reality check came when they asked us who our daughters homeroom teacher was and I had no idea. I knew Usher but not my daughter’s homeroom teacher. Shameful, I know, don’t remind me.

Also, I found it interesting that all the dads knew that Hilary Duff played Lizzie McGuire. Now THAT was creepy.

I was also the only dad who knew that “ttyl” means “talk to you later” in IM. I am SUCH a cool dad.

Let’s see, when asked what color the positive lead to a car battery, answers such as purple and yellow were offered from the girls. Needless to say, they didn’t get that one.

I had no idea who the quarterback was for the Redskins last time they won a Super Bowl nor which two teams always play on Thanksgiving, although I did guess correctly that an elk was normally bigger than a deer. Those questions were a little emasculating but I recovered.

After this game (which the dads won, by the way), we rotated to the cafeteria where we filled out “discussion starters” and ate snacks. I scored big on the question “What do you like most about your daughter” responding “that she’s so much like her mother.”

But then that was negated by all the pretzels and chocolate chip cookies I ate which ended up being my dinner. I also took a powder when the dancing started because I neither know nor do I want to learn how to do the Electric Slide or the Macerena. But I did dance one slow dance with her and taught her how to be led by her male counterpart.

The last rotating found us playing Bingo which we almost won. All I needed was a stinkin’ B5 and I would have finished the “Big T” and won a basket full of beach stuff which Steph pointed out would have been perfect since we were moving to San Diego. But the little balls of fate were against me. So I stormed out yelling a stream of profanities in my wake.

OK, maybe not. I had to be on my best behavior since, you know, I was wearing cologne.

I was really surprised when the older gentlemen in front of me had NEVER played Bingo and we had to explain it to him. Older guy. No Bingo. Ever. It was… seemed to be… almost illegal.

We ended the night getting our picture taken and I was so proud to sit and pose with my daughter. For some reason, we have grown close in the last few months and I couldn’t imagine a better night with her than spending it together at this “social.”

My little girl isn’t so little any more and while I miss the little one, the older version is winning my heart anew. Anyway, I have a feeling I’ll be seeing the little version again some day.

Free Advice for Today: “Wash whites separately.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

22 comments


Mount St. Starbuck

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2006

Quote of the Day: “I CAN SEE CLEARLY NOW, THE BRAIN IS GONE.”

- Unknown

Some of you might be aware because you READ MY BLOG but for you other less vigilent readers, I started a weekly tradition a few month or so ago where I stop at Starbucks every Wednesday and get a venti lowfat mocha with whipped cream. It makes Wednesdays the best day of the week (other than Friday which is always just deep fried buttered and breaded sugar balls no matter what.)

(oh, and Saturday and Sunday but those don’t count. So, um 4th out of 7 for ole Wednesday).

Anyway, Wednesday is Starbuck’s Day.

Today I got my mocha and was blissfully enjoying the effects of sugar, caffeine, and chocolate while driving 90 MPH to work and once I got there, I had to stop myself from downing if because I like to warm it up later for a late morning pick-me-up.

At about 1000, I walked over to the microwave by my office, put it in there, “Quick-On”’ed it for a minute, and walked over to the … OK, I hit the head.

When I returned, I opened the microwave door to enjoy the last ¼ of my Starbuck’s orgasm and what did I find?

It had exploded.

But in a weird, volcanic way. The lid was still on and the cup showed no signs of trauma. But the entire inside of the microwave was covered in brown liquid and there was a layer of pooled mocha on the rotating glass plate.

All I could do is pull out the dripping cup and drop it in the trash, bemoaning my ¼ mocha dream. I dutifully took out the plate, took it to the bathroom, cleaned it, and used a brick of brown paper towels from the bathroom to clean up not only my diarrhea-looking explosion but the nasty, crust-infested stalactites that had accumulated because I seem to be the only one who cares that the inside was getting smaller due to layers.

I went and pouted about it for the rest of the day.

When I passed by there before I went home, I noticed the final disgrace of the entire situation.

The entire shop on the far end of the building was being relocated to another building on base. They had been boxing up their stuff all week and today was their last move day.

What I noticed was something I didn’t realize until just that moment: the microwave belonged to them and when they left, so did the microwave.

So on the last day I would have access to it, I cleaned it clean as a whistle and they never knew why.

My first thought was those bastards. I should have just left it. But then while fanaticizing about that, I saw I couldn’t have left a dripping inside of a microwave for them to move. While they didn’t deserve to have me clean their lack of attention for it, they also didn’t deserve the mud-encrusted mess that my mocha caused.

And I couldn’t just clean it halfway.

Damn conscious.

Free Advice for Today: “Don’t expect different results from the same behavior.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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