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Still Black Plagueing

Wednesday, February 28th, 2007


Quote of the Day: “I don’t want any yes-men around me. I want everybody to tell me the truth even if it costs them their jobs.”

- Samuel Goldwyn

OK, we’ll count this as only half a sick day. I actually got up, showered, got dressed, and headed to work this morning.

Well, it IS Wednesday so of course, hello Starbuckiest day of the week.

But even with a triple shot venti white chocolate mocha, I couldn’t quite get rid of this Typhoid Mary misery.

I got into work and everyone who saw me mentioned how I pretty much looked like hammered dogshit. I thanked them for such honest assessment and went about putting in two straight hours of uninterrupted work. I got through the 50 emails that amassed from working ONE day (let me repeat that: 50 emails after missing ONE day). Come on, people.

After returning voicemail, reading 50 emails, answering many of them, and sending out a few of my own, all I had to do was read and sign a half dozen folders before succumbing what I knew to be inevitable. I really needed to go home not only because I was failing fast but I was likely exposing the others to the crud I was hosting.

I called my boss, told him what was happening, and told him I would be departing soon, although I didn’t mean it in a final way despite how I felt.

On the way out, I remembered that I have to be back at work for a 0700 Battalion formation so I should go get a haircut. I walked over and despite my overriding desire to go home and collapse, I found myself in a barber’s chair with white tissue around my neck which triggered my constant cough even more. Just a banner day.

I got home, fell into bed, and visited daytime sleepyland for a couple of hours before waking and feeling like I had been put through a meat grinder.

My lovely daughter was home, sick on the couch so I decided to go down and join her. While we were there, we might as well watch something so I grabbed one of my favorite movies that I know she had never seen: Lean On Me with Morgan Freeman.

It’s one of those movies I could (and have) watch over and over again. Morgan Freeman plays Principal Joe Clark who takes a ghetto high school and brings it back from the edge of destruction through sheer force of will and discipline. It’s a great flick I highly recommend.

After the movie was done, I did something I very rarely do: I sat through another movie. This time it was one of the dumbest friggin’ movies I’ve had the misfortune to be exposed to. It took two hours away from my life I’ll never get back. Don’t waste your time on Employee of the Month. It’s just painful. I know, big surprise from Jessica Simpson but really, it sucked donkey.

After that fiasco, I spent the rest of the afternoon asleep with the puppies again and I’m really worried about my marathon on Sunday. I’m missing out on last minute training and I still feel like hell. I don’t want to miss the marathon but DAMN!

Just about the only other interesting thing I came across today was a blog that provided a link to the Wilhelm Scream. If you don’t know about this, it’s a stock sound effect that Hollywood keeps reusing but the interesting thing about it is that it has been used from old westerns to Star Wars and Indiana Jones. Also Howard the Duck but we won’t go there.

Anyway go here for the discussion and here for a YouTube montage of all the movies it’s been used in.

See ya tomorrow. I’m going to bed with the puppies again. (Still caught up he says with giddy laughter….)

Free Advice for Today: “No matter how angry you get with your wife, never sleep apart.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.


Dog Days

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007


Quote of the Day: “The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one.”

- George Bernard Shaw


Sore throat.

Completely exhausted.

This is how I woke up and there was little doubt what this meant: no going in to work for this cowboy. As one of my readers put it, now you know the way to take out a Marine: the common cold.

To be fair, I don’t think it was the cold. I think it was the flu and thank goodness I took the flu shot because I would hate to go through what I went through today. That would suck.

I wore out a path between my bed, the bathroom, and the computer, spending about equal time at every location.

What did I get done other than never getting out of my PJs? Well, I caught up on updating my 20 year high school reunion page, my wife’s 20 year high school reunion page, caught up on some email, inputted some of my books into LibraryThing, and sorted out all the domains I pay for.

Come to find out that not only do I own but also,, and The last three I haven’t exactly done anything with yet but I’ve been making plans for years.

The “” was an attempt to start a site where bootcamp buddies could reunite but I sat on that idea too long and it pretty much got gobbled up by See what happens when you hesitate?

The was an idea I had to host my Flash cartoons. Kind of like Sempertoons but using Flash cartoons. I didn’t get very far on that one either but I still have high hopes.

The is a secret present that I started for the Popaditch family. I was going to transfer the pages I made to that and then give it to them together with the email addresses, show them how to use it, and even serve as their webmaster if they wanted me to. I still plan to get on that but I stalled after the initial idea last summer.

Here was something that came as a surprise: I am allowed 30 GB storage for my site but the new joins, I noticed, get 300 GB. I called POWWEB and they were more than happy to upgrade me for free but the thought hit me that you had to ASK for it. It wasn’t automatic.

The same deal with bandwidth: I got 100 GB per month but if I asked, they would bump me up to 3000 GB per month. I don’t think I will be exceeding that any time soon.

Neither was a real problem before but it kind of irked me that I had to ask for the max. And of course I wanted the max because…well that’s just the kind of guy I am.

Enough geek talk, let’s turn to my other passion: running.

I have mixed emotions about this sickness thing. On the one hand, I’m sick. Duh! That means my body is weakened and trying to fight off whatever nasty is floating around inside of me. This isn’t good since I have a marathon on Sunday.

On the other hand, I am being forced to rest. I am unable to run which most people in the know would consider a good thing. I’m constantly being advised to taper, take it easy, rest up before a marathon. But I always seem to do better, or at least feel better on marathon day, when I keep my running schedule (Mon, Tues, Thurs) even the week before a Sunday race.

The worst thing about all of this is that I seemed to have passed this to my beautiful daughter. She came home and within an hour was curled up on the couch in a blanket. A few hours later she was burning hot to the touch and spent the entire evening in her bed.

Ravage me all you want you bastards but leave the girl out of this.

I guess the last thing I’m obligated to blog about is the puppies. My friend owns two puggles and she asked us to dog-sit them until Sunday. The kids are staying behind to watch them while Carrie and I go to LA but we will have them until then.

If you’ve never seen a puggle, they have to be the cutest things on earth. A puggle is a cross between a pug and a beagle.

We are watching a black one and one that pretty much looks like a miniature Buster. The brown one is named Jersey but my daughter has dubbed her Stickerbell due to her flatulence issues. Alex calls her “Melendez” for some unknown reason but since she gained a bit of weight since we’ve seen her, he’s started calling her “Porkchop.”

Tater is the black one and his names have ranged from “Demon” because of his crazy-ass growl that sounds like any minute little bat-wings will pop out his back and he’ll go flapping off to “Pedro” (from Alex who, again, has no rhyme nor reason for these nicknames.)

They get this behavior from their mother.

I’m gonna go spend another hot, sweaty, sleepless night in bed. And not to good kind either, you pervs.

Free Advice for Today: “Find something that’s important to your company and learn to do it better than anyone else.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.


The Drill Instructors Speak

Monday, February 26th, 2007


Quote of the Day: “But in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

- Benjamin Franklin

Today I got to make two very rewarding phone calls.

I called two of my three Drill Instructors to inform them that I was going to be promoted to Major.

I know this is going to piss off my brother who I STILL have not contacted but I know he knows about it. If you are reading this, I’ve been trying to call so don’t be pissed I’ve told Mom and a few others. If it makes you feel any better, I haven’t got in touch with Dad either but you know his only question will be how many MORE people can I make do push-ups when I get promoted.

First, I got in touch with Sergeant Major Wertjes. I had sent him a book a while back and just got an email from him thanking me. He had been out of the country for a few weeks thus the delay.

What I also learned was rather shocking: his daughter was shipped to Iraq yesterday.

OK, not only did I not know he had a daughter but I was also unaware she was a Marine (obviously). Yep, there is a LCPL Wertjes running around in Iraq right now.

This got me to thinking. I read a book about Chesty Puller’s son (if you don’t know who Chesty is, I haven’t the time to explain. Just visualize Jesus in cammies) and he explained the scene when he (the son) went to Vietnam. As the cab drove off, Junior looked back and for the first time saw his father as an old man. Chesty was crying and being helped back into the house by Ms. Puller.

The vision of such a Warrior being reduced to an emotional wreck is sobering. Chesty has not only been through it all but he DEFINED what “it all” was. But when it came to seeing his son go off to war, there is no preparation for that.

I thought of Sergeant Major Wertjes and his distinguished career. He had been a DI, taught at DI School, and risen to the highest enlisted rank in the land. But I would be willing to bet that watching his baby girl go off to Iraq was something he was ill-prepared for. Maybe because he knew too much.

The Sergeant Major was proud of me and I filled him in on the details. I noted that I’m pretty sure I was the last Marine standing in the ranks from Platoon 3075 and I was about to pin on oak leaves. I once again thanked him for starting me off on the right track and told him I wouldn’t have ever got here on my own without his guidance that summer of 1987.

The second phone call was to Top Garcia. I caught him at work and like always, he sounded thrilled and touched that I would call. I told him I had big news for him and when I told him, I could HEAR his smile followed by a hum that reminded me of my Mexican family. It must be a Hispanic trait that they hum when they are very happy. My grandmother does the same thing.

Top showered me with praise and like what always happens, I don’t know who was more proud. I felt like a kid coming home and telling dad he won first place.

I also discussed with him my future. I told him that despite my master’s degree, potential 6-figure income, and 20 years of service, I have never turned down a promotion and I wasn’t about to start now. I told him I just wasn’t instilled with the ability to say no and that the Marine Corps putting me on that list was them telling me they still needed me at this time. The civilian jobs would still be there.

He sounded relieved and said “Good, the Marine Corps does need you, especially now.” He was happy that I was staying in and proud that I had made the decision to answer the call once again, even if that meant potentially going overseas.

We also discussed one more thing that I am flabbergasted I never blogged about. Earlier this month I was getting ready to head home when I checked my email for the last time before leaving. What I found there was astounding.

It was an email from Bonilla the Gorilla.

Who is this, you ask? Go top the link and you will understand.

For you lazy asses, the short story is he was one of my Receiving DIs and not only “one” of them but the one who made my life miserable for those initial days. He was so insane, well, look at what we called him.

Do you know what he does now? He works for the DMV and gives driver’s tests. Can you imagine that?

I had to go home with a huge grin on my face and wonder what exactly I had written in that story since it had been years since I had written it.

Here is the email that knocked me back a few steps:

At the time you get this msg, I hope you are standing at attention after you read the Subject!

How are you doing Sir? It is good to see or hear from one of your fellow Marines, especially one whom you had a chance to make a positive impact on.

This was a good reading material, as you can probably imagine I had the entire family read it and everyone was impressed not only with the story, but with your writing also.

My oldest son (24, school teacher) said that he knows exactly what you r talking about in your article. Well I’m very proud of your accomplishments in your life. I talked to Sergio and we are going to get together and send you some pictures. I made GySgt and then had to get out for personal reasons, but I still love the USMC.

I’m a drivers license examiner for the state of NC, can you imaging that? Some of the young drivers get to see the Gorilla once in a while when they fail the driving test, but some how they all ways come back and request me for their second test and it drives my fellow workers crazy because they can’t understand why them young marines insist in coming back to see me, and I tell them that its that EGA in my heart. Stay in touch.

Semper Fi!
Gysgt USMC Vet.
I did it my way and I’m proud of it.

Lastly, I got an email from my last First Sergeant who got to Iraq last week. She emailed me her congratulations for picking up Major and told me she was doing fine. She also provided me with the best line I’ve heard in a long time:

“Sir, too bad your first name was not ‘Lee.’ Then you would be ‘Major Lee Grose!!!’ Ha!”

Free Advice for Today: “Remember that every age brings opportunities.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.


Back From The Past, I’ve Arrived At The Present!!!!!!

Sunday, February 25th, 2007


Quote of the Day: “It’s not living alone if you keep a rifle under the bed.”

- Chuck Palahniuk

What to blog about when there’s nothing to blog about.

Let’s see, well, I didn’t do a damn thing today but sleep and blog. Like I said yesterday, I’m sick and I was right. So today I stayed in my pajamas all day and traded off sleeping with computer work, mostly blogs.

That’s another thing: I caught up. I am actually writing this on Sunday night and posting it tonight which means I’m blogging in real-time for the first time in I don’t know how long. I’m excited as a little school girl about this.

Hey, I hope the media and tabloids continue to cover this Anna Nicole Smith death story. I don’t think they’ve adequately covered every aspect. I pray they will continue this level of coverage in the upcoming months because I just can’t get enough of a big-chested retard kicking the bucket. I hope they don’t beat the dead horse on this one.

In other news, I am not watching the Oscars because despite me bird-dogging American Idol, I am NOT gay. That’s reason enough, although I did catch Celine Dion (“the most beyootful Sing-GER… IN-DA-WORLD!!!!“) over-sing some Italian song. Why the long face, Wilbur?

The only other thing I think I should cover is the trailer for “Running On The Sun.”

Yes, I got caught up on YouTube and spent an hour trying to convert a .fla file to a .wmv. I’ve done this before using a Firefox add-in to capture a YouTube clip to an .fla file and then converting that to a .wmv using the Super program (yes, that’s what it’s called) but no matter what I did, this file did not want to be converted.

So if you really want to see the link above, you’ll have to go out and get a .fla viewer. If you don’t know how to do that, just forget it. I’m still sick as a dog and don’t want to run through it right now.

But if you do, watch the trailer. It’s uber-cool and really captures either just how much of an accomplishment this race would be or just how insane I am for even considering it. Either way, I challenge you not to be in awe.

I want to post this, get ready for tomorrow, read a bit more of Stephen King’s The Cell, and crash before starting another busy week.

Caught up and…… Out.

(***update**** Thanks to Little Miss Runner Pants, I’m informed that the link for Running On The Sun doesn’t, and I quote, “work for BOOTY.” So here is the direct YouTube link. Now the BOOTY is fixed.)

Free Advice for Today: “Every so often, go where you can hear a wooden screen door slam shut.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.


Train Running

Saturday, February 24th, 2007


Quote of the Day: “Adventure is just bad planning.”

- Roald Amundsen

I have this little argument every Saturday morning with myself.

“Get up.”

“Don’t wanna.”

“I didn’t ask if you ‘wanna.’ Get your ass up.”

“I’m tired.”

“You’ll be glad you did once you get out there.”

“It’s Saturday, dammit!”

“Which means it’s a free day to go for a long run, dumbass.”

“I need a rest week.”

“No you don’t. You’ll be pissed you traded training for sleep you don’t need.”


“Whatever, you can sleep when you get back. You know you will anyway.”

This goes on for a bit until I get up with the energy borne of being late. That’s just one of the advantages of belonging to a running group; they sometimes provide the tipping point to get your ass out of bed.

I got up but was not feeling 100%. I got plenty of sleep but woke up a few times with a sore throat and a pounding head. I feel the edge of sickness coming on but by the morning, it was not quite debilitating enough to cheese out of the run.

Luckily I had laid out everything so I couldn’t use that as an excuse. I got dressed, went downstairs and made my oatmeal.

I hate oatmeal.

A breakfast of oatmeal to me goes something like this:

I rip open the package, pour the chalky dehydrated shit-dust into a bowl, add a little water, and throw it in the microwave for a minute. During that time I get the biggest plastic cup of water I can get and fill ‘er up.

When the microwave beeps, I take it out and the shit-chalk slurry has now turned into warm, solidified shit-chalk slurry. I add a little more water and mix it up.

I then sit at the table with this little bowl-O-gag and my water-tower, steeling myself for what is to come.

One spoonful of mush in one hand, plastic cup of water in the other. Spoon goes in and as soon as it leaves the lips, it is instantly replaced with the plastic lip of the cup. I tidal-wave the shit I just put into my mouth, down my throat and try not to gag. Try.

This is repeated until there is only shit-stains left in the bowl.

More often than not I have at least one gagging fit. Today it was more because I was feeling a little sick but oatmeal is the best long-term, slow-burn energy food for distance runners so I put myself through this every single Saturday morning.

When I’m done, I stand up, out of breath, eyes watering, and a bowling ball full of a water-oatmeal sludge sloshing around in my gut.

Within about 15 minutes of getting out of bed, I headed for my car which I noticed was dewed over like most mornings. My routine is to grab this rubbery blade squeegee I got at a fair many years ago and wipe off all the dew from the windows.

This morning, the rubbery blade was not all that helpful since the dew was frozen. Crap, of all mornings why did it have to be frosty when I was looking at a long wait before exposing myself to the cold and warming up after the first mile? Stop bitchin’, Grose!

I drove to Solana Beach where I met the running group at a parking lot near the train station. I got out of my car, walked up to the circle of runners, and listened as someone explained some aspect of today’s run.

But wait….

This did not sound right. And I didn’t recognize anyone. I finally got a glimpse of a piece of paper in the speaker’s hand and it said “San Diego Running Club.”

I do not belong to the San Diego Running Club.

I was listening to the wrong group and only my outfit as a runner connected myself to these people. Luckily I was able to slink off without being noticed and walked over to the train station, only missing some of my ego.

Ah, OK, here were my people.

I paid the $8 for the train ride and talked to my friends about the run today.

The Train Run is where we start off by catching the train at Solana Beach and heading north to Oceanside. Then we hop off and run the 16.5 miles south back to Solana.


I had run this with George, my old running partner (and I mean “old” in both ways) but hadn’t tackled it in months. I love this run because it’s down Highway 101 and you get to see a bit of everything: the beach, the water, and even through some sidewalk cafes where people are enjoying breakfast where, if the mood strikes, you can snag a piece of bacon. I mean, if they could catch me, they wouldn’t be sitting at a cafe on Saturday morning shoving bacon into their gullets now would they?

I started off just like last week: with people I didn’t know. Actually, I was with Roger again but the two other women I had never met. Within a few miles, I was left with Bethany after Roger and the other lady fell back.

I soon introduced Bethany to the Galloway method of running for 9 minutes and walking 1. She thought it was a good idea and I can chalk up another convert.

I was able to keep my strategy because I knew the way to the finish this week and if Bethany would not have wanted to participate, well, we would have parted company early on because I was going to stop every nine minutes no matter what.

Bethany’s boyfriend did not take the train and was going to meet us coming the other way after we had run 12 and he ran 4 coming the other way. He only wanted to do 8 total so this was their plan.

It didn’t work out.

We didn’t see him until the end and I didn’t stick around to find out what had happened but I think he misjudged the time and waited for her at the end.

Along the way, Roger would sometimes catch up to us and we would talk. But then he would fall behind and we would lose him. It was nice to have someone to talk to for the 2 and a half hours I was out there and the miles seemed to go by fast.

Bethany was interested in hearing about the 50 mile races I had done because I think, from the nature and quantity of her questions about them, she was considering tackling it, although she never came out and said so. This made me want to explain some of the more intimate, personal, and philosophical experiences (such as shitting on a snake) that go along with such races after I had covered most of the surface and logistical information.

By the end of the run she either thought I was insane or a guru. Maybe both. She is either hooked or would never give a second thought about running an ultra. I don’t know, she never really gave me a conclusion of what she thought about the subject before we got back to the train station and parted ways.

I made my obligatory showing at the post-run café but didn’t sit and eat. I wanted my Starbucks (which what is really got me through the last 5 miles) and to get home.

But first I had to get gas for Uranus (never gets old!). I pulled up to the pump, got out looking like Bambi on ice, and ran my card through.


I try it again.

It tells me to remove my card which I already had.

Then nothing.

Of all things, why, why, why when I’m having monumental difficulty getting in and out of my car do I come across the very uncommon situation of a gas station pump not wanting to take my credit card. Have I not done this for years without the slightest hiccup? (again with the bitchin’, Grose?)


I got back in my car, pulled around to another pump, and tried it again. It worked on this pump.

Is it just a post-run amusement for everything to go wrong after I’ve shredded my body and have nothing but the overriding desire just to get home?

Pretty much.

By the time I got home, I was feeling like crap but it was difficult to convince my wife that the way I was feeling was independent of running 16 .5 miles. I was getting sick but even though I knew it had nothing to do with the run, my wife and anyone that would care to listen would attribute it to the miles I covered today.

But it’s not.

I can feel it.

I’m getting sick.

Free Advice for Today: “Don’t eat any meat loaf but your mom’s.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.


Breakfast With the General, Lunch with the Colonel, and Dinner with the Flies

Friday, February 23rd, 2007


Quote of the Day: “Cats are intended to teach us that not everything in nature has a function.”

- Unknown

Yesterday the Protocol Officer called and invited me to breakfast this morning.

With the Commanding General.

Let’s see, I have to get an early core workout in at 0600, make sure everyone shows up to Morning Colors at 0800, attend a required PME (Professional Military Education) session by the Colonel at noon, and a going-away party for the Physical Fitness Director at 1600.

Sure, why not.

Unbeknownst to me, every graduation week, the General has a breakfast for the PRO (a term I learned today that stand for “Parade Reviewing Officer”). They go around and invite various officers and enlisted guests from various ranks to attend and I guess my name made it on the list this time.

I showed up at the General’s Quarters at 0850 for the 0900 breakfast and found myself the only one there. I stood out front wondering if I had the right place and waited for the door to open and me be caught in an awkward situation explaining to the General why I was hanging around her front lawn.

I remembered I had my cell phone with me so I called the Protocol Officer and he told me he was on his way. I relaxed and thought that rather standing there like a goon, I would take the opportunity to call Carrie who was invited but was taking the kids to Disneyland today. They’ve been out all week for their mid-Winter break.

Talking to Carrie, I saw a car driving up and thought it contained the Protocol Officer, a fellow Captain, so I continued to talk to Carrie. They pulled up right in front of me and all of the sudden, the General popped out with the Depot Sergeant Major.

And I was still on the phone.


I said “Gottagocallyoulater” and slapped the phone shut while coming to attention and popping a salute while my other arm was still falling to my side.

The General returned the salute and kind of smiled.

“Ma’am, it was my wife.”

“Is she coming?”

“No Ma’am, she and the kids are at Disneyland.”

Then the Sergeant Major piped in “I wish I was at Disneyland.”

Then they disappeared into the house and left the door open. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to go in but I was the only one outside.

After about 30 seconds, the Sergeant Major shut the door without looking at me and I felt much better.

Just then, the van showed up with the Protocol Officer, the PRO, and his wife. I was standing out there like a Wal-Mart greeter and got the salutes out of the way before following them into the house where I saw that Sergeant Major Spadaro (a friend of mine), a Major I knew, and a Lieutenant Colonel I knew were already in the house.

We all took our seats at the dining table that was set formally. In front of each chair was a printed name card, a menu, and a list of those attending. It was just about as formal as you could imagine and everyone was on their best behavior. I soon realized this was like a scene from a movie and that THIS was going to be what most people envision the formality of a General-level official function was like.

(I think I’ll refrain from going with “Angie” and “Bobby” this morning.)

To my immediate right was the Depot Sergeant Major who, after a bit of conversation, I found out was good friends with my Senior Drill Instructor, Sergeant Major Wertjes.

To his right at the end of the table was the General and next to her was her sister who lives with her. Next to the sister and immediately in front of me was Sergeant Major Spadaro (among my favorite people on the Base) and to his right was a First Sergeant waiting in the wings to take over the duties of Battalion Sergeant Major when SgtMaj Spadaro leaves this summer.

Next to him was LtCol Scott and then on the other end of the table, Colonel Cianciolo, the Parade Reviewing Officer. Then his wife was next to him and then a Major I’ve written about in a blog when I first arrived at MCRD.

The first portion was a fruit cup where I picked out all the stuff I wanted and left the other crap items I was not as interested in. The General brought up the fact I was on the promotion list and congratulated me. I found this a little surprising since there were a lot of Captains on the base and all eligible made the list.

Once we were done with the fruit, the Enlisted Aide took away the cups and replaced them with a plate of chocolate waffles, scrambled eggs, and sausage. The Enlisted Aide is a Staff Sergeant and serves the General as her chef. This Aide served the Commandant and in a strange twist, he swapped positions so that the former Enlisted Aide is now serves the current Commandant. For their troubles, they get sent to high-level, coveted culinary schools.

During breakfast, the subject of family came up and the General explained to us that her elderly mother lived with them and despite the CG being a General, she was still a daughter in her mother’s eyes. She explained some humorous misinterpretations with her mother, now in her nineties, who thinks that if the General plays golf too much, she is going to be fired and kicked out of “government housing.”

I told the General that if she ever goes to Oklahoma City and runs into my mother to tell her we are fellow Generals because she’s been telling her coworkers that for years. I told the general that’s why it wasn’t big news to my mother that I was getting a promotion: she can’t tell anyone because it would actually be a demotion.

I also announced to the General that this wasn’t the first time I had eaten at her table but the first time, she was not even there. She knew most of the story but I told her we felt like Goldilocks eating at her table and then leaving without cleaning up.

After breakfast, we drank coffee and talked some more. I expressed to her my gratitude for inviting me because coming from being a Recruit in 1987 to a Major-Select eating at her table was an indescribable journey that wasn’t lost on me.

Within 6 minutes of leaving her front door, I was in my office dealing with Company business. It was a jolt to go from ultra-military formality to Marine Corps leadership of the mundane. I caught up as much as I could and was at a dead sprint until lunch when the Colonel gathered everyone in the building for a PME.

The theme was Samuel Adams and after some introductory comments, he played a documentary on the Founding Fathers that PBS had put together. It took about an hour and I had a weird flashback of being in high school again. We all sat there and “watched a movie” on a Friday and then discussed it afterwards. I know of no other organization that would take time out of a busy work week to gather everyone from the CEO to the mailroom clerk to watch American history and discuss it.

By the end of the day I tried to button up work before heading to the Locker Room for a going-away party. Chrissy the Physical Fitness Director and friend of mine was moving to Virginia (better her than me) and everyone gathered to say farewell.

I am not a frequent face at the Locker Rom which is the unofficial E-Club for the base. All ranks are allowed but it’s kind of known to be the enlisted hangout since it’s the only place that serves alcohol, has pool tables, and even houses a bowling alley, game room, and computer lab.

Most of the time it’s not a place you want to make a habit of hanging out all the time, especially as an Officer. I thought this was to give the enlisted a place to let their hair down but after tonight, I see other reasons.

What shocked me the most was that the majority of people there were not Marines, at least active duty. I asked people I knew “How are all these civilians getting in and why are they here?”

The answer was simple.

“All you need is a driver’s license to get on base.”

Why these people chose to come to this club on the base when they had so many hoppin’ spots around San Diego is beyond me, other than the fact that there was no cover charge.

I also saw in inordinate number of bar flies which makes sense. Wouldn’t a bar fly want to be in the most target-rich environment she could find? A Marine base with lonely Marines; steady income, healthy drug-free bodies, etc. I was as fascinated as I was disgusted.

We were there to say goodbye so I stayed in a close little group eating lumpia and once the karaoke started, I made my exit. I said goodbye and good luck to my friend and drove home to spend another exciting Friday night getting ready for my big run tomorrow, reading, and crashing by 10:00 PM.

Another day. Another week. Another day that felt like a week. Thank God all I have to do tomorrow is run 16 and a half miles.

Free Advice for Today: “Wear a shirt and a tie to job interviews, even for a job unloading boxcars.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.


American Idol Yet Again, 6th Season

Thursday, February 22nd, 2007


Quote of the Day: “When you are eight years old, nothing is any of your business.”

- Lenny Bruce

Tis the time of year that I dedicate two nights a week watching the most indulgent, frivolous, shallow television show ever created. And I’m not going to apologize. I’m just wallowing in the mindless mind candy, thank you.

This week, I think Ryan Seacrest put it best when he said that if 5 hours of American Idol this week was not enough, get a life.

Tuesday was two hours of the guys singing. Each got a shot at a song and then received their requisite roasting from the judges. In short, most of them blew it clear out their asses.

I got to listen to four women and my daughter pass their judgment on the men. Paola, Amy, her daughter Jenna, Carrie, and Stephanie bestowed on me the relative yumminess of each dude which was just about as fun as a proctological exam by an epileptic doctor with fat fingers.

The next night, Wednesday, saw the ladies get their shot at the stage and amazingly, my house was devoid of the female guests. How convenient.

The ladies, I have to admit, were much better than the men. And how do I say this without sounding horrible… the black women stole the show. Every single one tore down the house and I found myself utterly entertained, especially Lakisha Jones who belted out a song with such power I got the chills.

Tonight, they had the one hour special where they announced who gets the hook. Two men and two women got dismissed in the most dramatic way the show can come up with. I know it show business and I know it’s manufactured drama but they string these poor people out so shamelessly and play games with them only to reward some at the expense of completely crushing the other’s spirits. I feel so dirty for watching.

And to add insult to injury, they make the ones voted off SING right after they find out.

“Hey, you just got your nuts/ovaries ground into a pulpy mess; here’s a mike… sing us a song.”

When asked the loaded question “who was the prettiest” from my wife, I said “why you are, my beloved.”

That didn’t quite answer the question and when pressed, I had to tell her that the cute little brunette, Antonella Barba…

… wins in the looks department. But she really didn’t exactly hit it out of the park in the vocal department and her looks were the only thing that kept her from getting the ax tonight. Cutie Pie better get some lungs or she’ll be taking her adorable little self back to New Jersey next week.

I also liked Amy Krebs…

…but she was one of those women who could look really good or really bad. I think the fact that she was tall and from Federal Way, WA pushed me her direction. I lived in Federal Way for years and I don’t remember seeing anyone like her but of course we’re talking decades apart. Thanks for pointing that out. I ended up with a Highlander anyway so the jokes on you.

Then the Krebster goes and gets voted off tonight. I really know how to pick them.

It’s here I have to point out who I don’t like. I don’t like Leslie Hunt …

… and was really surprised when she WASN’T voted off. She just seems a bit …. well… crazy to me. I don’t know, just weird. I hate to be insulting but she just kind of spooks me.

I like Sundance Head…

… for his personality but I was surprised he was kept after the string of mediocre performances as of late.

Of course Chris Sligh …

…. is a standout because this guy is good. I mean REALLY good but he has a worse looks problem than even Clay Aiken. America is going to have a tough one here because he’s a contender for the brass ring but they will have to get over his less-than-marketable looks.

My favorites for last:

Melinda Doolittle….

…. is a really strange combination of stunning vocal ability and paralyzing humility. She is like two different people. When performing, she owns the stage and her voice shakes the very bones of the listeners. When she’s done, she hunches her shoulders forward, smiles big, and acts like a 5-year-old on a grade school stage.

If this woman or Lakisha Jones belts out “I Will Survive,” they will have to dig out the survivors when the roof collapses and I will wear out my phone calling in my votes.

Lastly, I gotta give props to Blake Lewis.

He’s pretty good but as my family can attest, I’m addicted to this beatbox performance earlier in the show. I watch it daily. I. Just. Can’t. Get. Enough. Of. It.

I need help.

Free Advice for Today: “Own a great stereo system.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.


I’ve Been Listed

Wednesday, February 21st, 2007


Quote of the Day: “The forceps of our minds are clumsy forceps, and crush the truth a little in taking hold of it.”

- H. G. Wells

I know I already made the announcement but today, the promotion list for Major came out.

I want to publicly thank all of you for your support, your kind words, and your confidence that I’ve served an honorable and contributing career as a Marine and have earned the rank of Major. I have outlined all of my circumstances for the tail end of a career I’m proud of and with the years I have left wearing the Cloth of our Nation, I am prepared to serve in whatever capacity the Marine Corps requires of me whether that be stateside or overseas. While I appreciate your concerns, I will allow no one to pass judgment on what I or the Marine Corps decide. No one. That is a matter between me, my family, and the Marine Corps. I know this is common sense but amazingly enough, it needs to be said.

I’ve told most of you but for those that I missed, I want to make it clear that I am not a Major yet. I got quite a few emails starting with “Major Grose” and I cringed every time. Don’t get me wrong, I like the ring but not before I rate it, please.

I’ve been SELECTED to pin on Major but am 220 on the list. They will start promoting off the list starting in April so it might be months before I officially put on the oak leaves. And as I pointed out to a few people, I’m kind of nostalgic when it comes to the rank of “Captain” so I am savoring the dwindling time I have at being called a Captain of Marines.

Looking at the list, it was a revisit to my days at TBS. My class is the one hitting the Major promotion list so many of the names I recognized from back in 1997-1998 when I was going through the Basic School but most of them I hadn’t seen since that time. I’m sure some of them were shocked to see that I had made it (I was not voted “Most Popular” back then, imagine that) or that I was still around.

In other news, I’m losing my Company Gunny. With manpower shake-ups at work, we lost the Battalion S3 Chief so my Gunny got nabbed to fill the spot. On the positive side, I got a new Staff Sergeant to fill the spot and my first impression is that I continue to be blessed when it comes to Staff NCOs. That he has already served as an H&S Company Gunny is an extra little bonus.

To give you an idea of how fast things change, I’ve been here since July and am the only one in my shop left. Last man standing. Every clerk, First Sergeant, and Company Gunny has now changed over.


Free Advice for Today: “Ask for a raise when you feel you’ve earned it.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.


Running the City of Angels

Tuesday, February 20th, 2007


Quote of the Day: “No matter how rich you become, how famous or powerful, when you die the size of your funeral will still pretty much depend on the weather.”

- Michael Pritchard

What’s next?

My next big adventure is the 22nd Los Angeles Marathon on March 4th, 2006.

I actually got connected to this from two different sources. After becoming the Captain of the running team on base, I asked why the LA Marathon was not on the list of sanctioned races which I’m sure prompted the thought “We made this guy the Captain WHY?”

They agreed to pay for it and it fit right into my schedule. Well, sort of. It was an open month. (“God, this guy just has no common sense!”)

The second way was through the Achilles Team. I had helped them out with the Miami Marathon and Genna, the coordinator,

(sorry, Genna, this is the only good picture I have of you….)

…..asked me to help out with the LA event. I told her I would be happy to help out and in the last few weeks, have been working to get a team together from Balboa for that race.

Genna asked if I wanted to run it and I told her I already was through the base team but she graciously offered to pick up the hotel expense for me in exchange for getting the team to LA together and escorting them to the activities they have planned.

I even got Gina Elise ….

… involved who will serve as tour guide since she happens to live in the area. She is looking forward to meeting some of the Wounded Warriors she will be visiting next month to bring them some of her calendars.

Everything is coming together nicely.

So am I ready for this marathon? I really haven’t been putting in the long runs, although you would think the reason for that almost takes the place of the runs themselves. With all the races I’ve been doing, the long training runs just don’t happen. But I would do more long runs if I weren’t racing and the races, while officially “long runs,” bring with them recovery weeks which cancel out the long training runs.

Make sense? I tried.

Bottom line is that I don’t feel as ready as I could be and unless something incredible happens, I don’t see me cracking 4 hours.

But I am psyched about running the LA Marathon for the first time. I remember watching some of it on TV over the years and when I found out I was moving to San Diego, I put it on the list of marathons I wanted to tackle.

Free Advice for Today: “Discipline yourself to save money. It’s essencial to success.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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Climbing The Walls

Monday, February 19th, 2007


Quote of the Day: “Everyone rises to their level of incompetence.”

- Laurence J. Peter

Sometimes you find out things you just didn’t know and they come as a complete shock.

Case in point, my daughter is apparently a crossbred monkey and spider-woman. (Wait, that makes Carrie the spider-woman by gender which makes me….)

As a family, we went rock-climbing for a belated birthday celebration (the boy turned 15 on the 7th) and after Saturday’s ankle twisting extravaganza, I didn’t figure I would be partaking in said rock-climbing. In fact, I would be just sitting around bored out of my skull watching my family have fun. Boy, was I wrong.

When we walked in, it was a visual shock to see all these walls splattered with different hand/foot holds of all different sizes and shapes. The walls were huge and there were people climbing all over them like bugs.

Everyone got a harness which worked for some people and for others… not so much. I don’t want to pass judgment but if Flabby Booty Lady were to see her derriere from the angle we got to see, let’s just say she wouldn’t be all that happy. The harness goes under each cheek and is tightened so if your junk is less than firm, well, it’s like a balloon full of grape jelly. ‘Nuff said.

We paid for Alex, Steph, and Carrie but since I wasn’t climbing, I didn’t have to pay the $21.

I’m told this is quite the deal. It was $15 for all day but “all day” at a rock climbing place is not all day, unless you have arms like Popeye. A few hours, maybe, but they are quick to point out that you can come back any time during that day after, I assume, you leave to stab yourself in the eyes to divert the pain from your arms.

Then there was the $6 charge for shoes and harness. Multiply all this by 3 and you get me shelling out $63. They were gracious enough not to charge me anything even though I got a harness so I could help belay.

Here is how it works. You get into this sumo-diaper apparatus and hope your ass doesn’t look like Flabby Booty Lady. The harness has a loop in the front and if you are the belayer, you hook one end of the rope to you using a clip with a pulley. The climber attaches the other end of the rope to his or her harness and you are set. The rope goes all the way to the top, circles the metal bar at the top, and comes down.

The climber uses the holds to climb the wall and the belayer keeps the rope tight by pulling the slack as the climber ascends. When the climber reaches the top or chickens out, they let go and the belayer uses the pulley to lower the climber down, ideally at a comfortable speed and not rock-dropping acceleration as defined by physics and gravity.

So I spent the first hour belaying and watching my family overcome their fears of heights. As I pointed out before, my daughter stood out because she seemed to naturally know where to put her feet and hands, enabling her to climb up the walls with little effort. It was like her feet and hands went to the correct places on their own volition. She was poetry in motion.

After an hour, I couldn’t stand watching so much fun and decided I should give this a shot despite my bum ankle. We went over into a corner where no one could see (“no one” defined as the kid at the counter who I DIDN’T pay) and took a shot at the wall. About 15 feet up, I felt the first tinge of freak-out. At he bottom, it seems so easy but the higher you get, the more you feel you are leaning back, ready to fall off the wall. Aaaaaah, so that’s the trick; getting over THAT feeling.

OK, let me down.

I made it about halfway and was ready to call it quits. I got to the bottom and again, because I am me, I couldn’t let this go unchallenged. I knew I would be climbing again, the next time to get to the top.

I did not commit right away but instead helped the family out for a bit longer and through some kind of weird primal connection, my son seemed to feed off of my unannounced desire to join in. He kept asking me to climb but I hesitated, once again letting money get in the way. I’m so cheap.

Then he said “Come on Dad, I’ll pay for it with my own money.”

That did it. I was not going to allow money to get in the way and I sure as hell wasn’t going to let my son pay for me because he wanted so badly for me to have fun with him.

I walked over to the counter and told the kid that I wanted to climb. He asked me how much longer we were going to be and I said not long. He then said “Go ahead, I won’t charge you.”

Wow, I guess this was meant to be.

The look on the kids’ faces was well worth the effort and the cost of admission even if I would have paid it. They were so happy that I was joining in and I was escorted to each wall they had already accomplished. They seemed to draw as much pleasure watching me climb as they did doing it themselves.

I overcame my initial trepidation about the heights and climbed several walls. I don’t know if it was psychological or not but it always seemed to be the hardest right at the top. The combination of finding those last few hand holds and the exhaustion in my arms made finishing up the most difficult part. But I made it to the top and regained my self-confidence.

After about an hour, I was done. As in I. WAS. DONE!

My arms felt like they belonged to someone else. I knew tomorrow I would be paying dearly for this but the feedback from the kids made this a very small price to pay. They had a wonderful time and I knew we would be coming back very soon.

Maybe I should work on arm strength before we return, though.

Free Advice for Today: “Find some other way of proving your manhood than by shooting defenseless animals and birds.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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