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Playing Tourist in San Diego

Saturday, March 31st, 2007

Saturday

Quote of the Day: “To err is human–and to blame it on a computer is even more so.”

- Robert Orben

We got free tickets to see a movie and since I had family in town, I thought I would be the hero and take them to see “Are We Done Yet?”

It didn’t take long before I was asking the same thing.

We got to the mall and what I discovered were two things I didn’t know:

1. We would be the only white people at the show which caused us to be stopped at the entrance to get a publicity shot.

2. The free screening was sponsored by a Christian radio station.

Neither of these facts mattered except that we all prayed before the show started which was probably a first EVER in something as public as a movie screening.

To me, the movie wasn’t all that great and the fact I never saw the first one probably didn’t have much of a effect on my opinion. But hey, free.

The show was at an outside mall so we took advantage of this fact to walk around after the movie. Let me rephrase that, my sister-in-law Kristine took advantage of this fact and her and Carrie floated off immediately after we exited the theater.

Scott and Kris are from Seattle so such a beautiful outdoor mall in sunny southern California was a huge treat and Kris’s shopping chromosome was glowing.

Scott, Alex, and I soon exhausted all the gadget stores and found ourselves staring at our feet at an outside bench within a half hour.

I did get it in my mind that I needed to research the T-Mobile smartphone options for email. I was originally looking at the Sidekick but then I took a long hard look at the Dash. I just liked everything about it. Maybe I could even keep up with my email. Now THERE’S a concept!!!

But Carrie soon put the kibosh on the whole concept. I even tried to get the kids involved, reminding them that if I got a new phone, my RAZR would flow down the chain of command. But it was not to be. Something about finances or something or other.

When we finally pried the ladies away from the gravity-sinkhole that is the mall, we decided that going right to Seaport Village which was nearby wouldn’t waste near enough gas or time so we drove all the way back to Miramar to get gas and then decided to go back to the Village. Don’t ask.

I had run by this place awhile back on a Saturday morning run but had never been here as a tourist. I had heard it was the place to go so I thought this would be a great opportunity to see it.

Once we got the parking fun over with (akin to a proctology exam by Edward Scissorhands), we were privy to “cute little shops” as the ladies put it. Translation for me and the other fellas: boring, overpriced shit.

We walked along the boardwalk and gandered at the freak show. Yes, there were normal people and tourists like ourselves but there was also the collection of sun-baked bums, malcontents, sk8ters, and just drunk old idiots.

Case in point was in the main town square where they had a live Mexican band.

Have you ever heard the advice “Dance like no one’s watching?”

Yeah, do that when no one’s watching.

Because if you are old, like no-calcium-left old, and you get out there in public and dance your wooden-nickel maker, you are going to horrify all who can sooner avert their eyes to a car wreck than take their watering eyes from you making a total jackass of yourself.

And before you assume that it was a cute little man, it wasn’t. It was this guy who, you could tell, was absolutely convinced he was a stunning example of manhood that everyone could only hope to equal in virility and God-sent machismo.

And who was he wooing? It looked like the cast of the Golden Girls. In a couple decades.

And they were no innocent flowers succumbing to Don Juan’s obvious charms. They too were out there doing moves they had no business subjecting the general public to. It was like watching Cocoon V: The Wrinkling.

We had lunch which, if I recall correctly, cost me about $1600 dollars, while trying to ignore Father Time-To-Stop-Drinking-And-Sit-The-Fuck-Down and his harem of Efferdent-reeking Titanic survivors.

One other thing: Kristine wants to move here to San Diego. After being here a couple of days, she is convinced that Scott should find a job here and they should come live here near us for at least a couple years until we can all move back up to Seattle together.

That way they can put up with my crap all the time. We must have had them in the sun a little too long.

Free Advice for Today: “When you really like someone, tell them. Sometimes you only get one chance.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

2 comments


They’re HEEEEERE!

Friday, March 30th, 2007

Friday

Quote of the Day: “The one serious conviction that a man should have is that nothing is to be taken too seriously.”

- Nicholas Butler

Last night our visitors got in late, after I was asleep. So I got up, went to work while they slept, and didn’t actually get to see them until they showed up for graduation.

I was so proud to show them the base, rich in both Marine Corps and personal history for me and it made it that much more special that these people have known me since 1987. But they rarely get to see “Captain Grose.” They always get to see “Jason” which I have been to them since Reagan was the President.

In fact, they rarely got to see PFC Grose, LCPL Grose, CPL Grose, SGT Grose, 2ndLt Grose, or 1stLt Grose. They always see “Jason.”

Not only that, but they see the lazy sloth-Jason when I’m home on leave where I do a lot of sleeping, reading, napping (yes, closely related to “sleeping” but during the day), eating, and wall-staring.

So when I walked out in my Charlies as the Headquarters Company Commander,


(Me and Joe Carbajal, a bootcamp brother of mine)

… it was a new experience for all of us.

They had changed over the years, too. When I showed up as an 18-year-old high school senior,

… Scott was a junior high kid looking wide-eyed at his big sister’s new boyfriend who was going into the Marine Corps soon.

A few years later, Scott was dating a rather beautiful young lady with exotic looks, jet-black hair, and endless nearly-black eyes she’d one day pass on to her children.

They dated, they married, and they had two of the cutest children God ever blessed the Earth with.

As they always do, Scott and Kristine, my bother and sister-in-law showed up at our newest duty station to visit. And I couldn’t be more thankful that they came.

I had got tickets to the VIP section of the graduation and I walked them and my wife over to the “Taco Stand” which is what we call the covered section of the reviewing stand. As we walked over, I tried to cram 19 years of experience and knowledge into a 10 minute walk so they possibly could fathom the significance of what they were about to witness.

I found it a bit difficult to explain every little thing about what they were seeing. With former guests of mine, they had some military history so I didn’t have to go into as much detail but I soon realized how difficult it is to explain all the nuances of a Marine Corps Bootcamp graduation to someone who has very little practical knowledge of Marine Corps tradition.

I did the best I could and blathered on endlessly until it was over.

Afterwards, I showed them around the base and the other thing I discovered was that I never get tired of showing people around the base.

Unfortunately, I had to go back to work so Carrie took them to Old Town while I hooked and jabbed through another Friday afternoon.

Later, we all decided that Round Table pizza was the next best thing next to our usual Godfather’s requirement but seeing that there are no Godfather’s left around here, we had to improvise.

Did it compare?

Not even close!

The kids wanted to go bowling so we drove all the way back to the base and walked into the bowling alley only to discover that on Friday night, no one under 18 is allowed in the place after 1700.

Really? Sooooo… yeah, wasted trip. Back to the house we go.

Just like old times, Carrie and Kristine played board games with the kids when Scott wasn’t playing video games with Alex (he is basically a big kid when it comes to these things and the kids absolutely adore this about him).

And me?

Well, since I hate bored games (yeah, I know how I spelled it) and video games aren’t my thing either, I just poked around on the computer and kept pulling in Scott to show him funny videos I found. I’m so 13-years-old.

It was good to have them under our roof again.

Free Advice for Today: “After someone apologizes to you, don’t lecture them.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

6 comments


Man, I Don’t Even Know How To SPELL Videeo

Thursday, March 29th, 2007

Thursday

Quote of the Day: “Holding on to anger, resentment and hurt only gives you tense muscles, a headache and a sore jaw from clenching your teeth. Forgiveness gives you back the laughter and the lightness in your life.”

- Joan Lunden

“Captain Grose, you will be the Battalion representative for the Dining In.”

These were the trumpets of impending doom. I knew from experience.

Why was I, the Company Commander… never mind, I just was. I was the rep. So be it.

“Get your best videographers and start coming up with an idea for a short video to play at the Dining In.”

Ut-oh.

I smell the unmistakable musk of a dirty animal that will soon consume my life.

It’s a simple situation.

“What needs to be done?”

“A video.”

“Who knows how to do this?”

“No one I know.”

“Who would do a good job?”

“Me, of course.”

“Who would do a better job that you?”

“No one.”

“What egotistical jackass takes on too much and makes life hard on himself?”

“I don’t know who you are talking about.”

Well, it was a chance to put my smartass blogging persona to work and have two of my worlds come crashing together. In my work role, I’m the prim and proper Company Commander. In my head, I’m an insufferable smartass. Few know both people.

This was kind of a roast so all I had to do was to come up with insults, belittling concepts, and mockery… wrap it in wit and innuendo to come out with a funny video sautéed in plausible deniability.

Off to work I went. We had a meeting where we sat around and had a cleansing session of making fun of every unit and senior Officer on the base. The ideas flowed like water over Niagara Falls and I copied as fast as I could, getting just the sketchiest of outlines.

When I got alone, I was able to mold these concepts into witty skits. The overall idea was a video turnover from the outgoing Battalion Commander to the incoming. This way he could make fun of every section of the base on the premise he was introducing them to the new CO. Ripe for mockery.

To make it simple, we were going to just take pictures and then record the CO talking. We would then show the pictures in sequence while the narration carried on in the background. Kind of like those funny shorts you see on SNL where they show snapshots in sequence. Not only was it funny but an easy genre to create for a time/asset-challenged Captain trying to do everything himself.

Ideally, it would be put together in a Power Point presentation but that was not to be. They HAD to have video and then the CO wanted moving video which spiked up the difficulty level quantum leaps. Never mind that version 1.0 of the video took me dozens of hours on the computer, mostly for naught.

Anyway, this is going to consume my every waking (and sleeping) hour for the next month or so. I hope everything goes perfect and my other job, you know, running a Company of 300+ Marines doesn’t get in the way.

I’m sure there will be no setbacks. What could possibly go wrong?

Free Advice for Today: “Visit your city’s night court on a Saturday night.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

9 comments


Gurgle

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

Wednesday

Quote of the Day: “The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them.”

- Albert Einstein

Let’s do Way Back Wednesday. Why not.

I can vividly remember the first time I tried Google.

OK, maybe that’s not exactly “Way Back” in the sense that most people that do this pull up something from their childhood but in the world of computers, going back to when Google was more gurgle, it’s Way Back, folks.

Plus, I just read a history of Google and I was amazed that I was one of the early adopters. If only I had the brains to put my money where my recognition of a really good thing was.

And OK, maybe I don’t remember “vividly” but pretty darn close.

I was using a bunch of different search engines back then and I thought it was a good idea to put some links on my website to the ones I found most useful (back when you kind of needed more than one.)

Funny story, I slapped them on my page without much research and ended up accidentally putting a porn search engine on there before I realized what it was. Imagine my surprise.

Anyway, the ones I had linked were Webcrawler, Metacrawler, GoTo Net, Multicrawl, Excite!, Yahoo, and Alta Vista.

I think it was someone who wrote me or I read it in a magazine that there was this new search engine I should try called Google. The appeal was that the interface had nothing but a search box and a logo and back in the day when I had to deal with dial-up, this was mighty appealing.

I remember punching in the URL and a nearly blank white screen came up with a search box.

Naturally I put my name in and I got a few hits, most of which were my own webpage.

Cool.

Little did I know at the time I was on the tip of a ginormous wave that was to come. I would love to know what number I was to go on Google.com. At least I bet it could have been measured at the time, unlike now.

Anyway, there you have it. I am oddly proud to claim to be a really, really, really early user of Google and can remember using it when it was a puissant startup.

So maybe Larry Page and Sergey Brin could slide me a few mil. They’d never miss it!!! Come on, guys…

Dicks.

Free Advice for Today: “When faced with a serious health problem, get at least three medical opinions.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

No comments are allowed on this one ... sorry


A Monstrous Help

Tuesday, March 27th, 2007

Tuesday

Quote of the Day: “I’m tired of all this nonsense about beauty being only skin-deep. That’s deep enough. What do you want, an adorable pancreas?”

- Jean Kerr

I got a little bit of an addiction going but I get results so it’s hard to argue with.

What am I talking about?

Well, I’ve blogged sometime in the past about Red Bull (somewhere, I’m too lazy to find it right now) but like going from weed to crack, it served as a stepping stone to the harder stuff. I’m talking about Monsters, folks. If you’re in the know, you know about these little miracles. If not, then go out and chug one down and then come talk to me. On second thought, don’t, because you’ll be coming at me all buzzed up and hyper, blabbering incessantly.

Now before you start, yeah, I know, these things are about as healthy for me as heroin and I know it will shock you to hear this from me, the crazy marathon runner guy, but I don’t care. I figure I burn it off.

What do I get in the trade? Well, I do a lot of running as you all know. And I usually stay up until about 11:00+ at night and wake up with the sole thought of when I’ll be able to get horizontal again for more sleep. Coffee helps out in the AM and carries me through to lunch when, instead of eating, I run. I then get back completely destroyed and then the affects of sleep deprivation, lack of food, and physical exertion hop on the train of stress that is my job and well, I don’t have a lot of discipline to stay away from the power drinks.

I pop open a Monster, down it, and then life becomes a whole lot better. Almost every time, the same thought runs through my head: “If I’m feeling back to normal after a Monster, how would I feel if I DIDN’T drink one?”

See folks, here is the problem. It works. It gets me through the day and I can function in the afternoon. Yeah it tastes like shit and yeah, it’s probably like drinking melted sugar in a solution of hydrochloric acid and diarrhea but the bring-me-back-to-the-living feeling is just too much to resist.

Oh, and let me throw in that I normally only do this once a week on Wednesday when I have the Battalion Staff meeting in the afternoon. By midweek, I’m on the energy downhill slope and a warm afternoon of sitting in a room after PT briefing the state of the Battalion just plain requires Monsters for this hombre.

And when I mix it with Hydroxycut, wow.

Hey, at least I cut out my Wednesday Starbucks blended Big Mac-o-rama so I pick and chose my addictions.

For now, the recipe is working. Is it good for the long term? Probably not. I know this. Save your trons.

Free Advice for Today: “Work hard to create in your children a good self-image. It’s the most important thing you can do to insure their success.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

16 comments


How Do I Hate Thee, Blogger? Let Me Count The Ways

Monday, March 26th, 2007

Monday

Quote of the Day: “On my income tax 1040 it says ‘Check this box if you are blind.’ I wanted to put a check mark about three inches away.”

- Tom Lehrer

I have a love/hate relationship. Actually it’s more toward the “hate” end of the spectrum but I have to live with it which makes my hate that much more magnesium-like.

Blogger.

Let’s not get into the whole maintaining two blogs thing, shall we not? I mean, yeah, I don’t even keep up with one very well but there is a method to my madness, at least in theory. I need this blog to cover my day to day (maybe a little in the past but it finally catches up, sorta) experiences and one just to throw some really funny shit up without much comment. That one would be my Viper Blog over on Blogger.

My day to day (the one you are reading, Corky. Try to keep up) has gone through many versions but currently I’ve settled on WordPress. It’s kind of a warped, mutated combination of a database, online, local, blogging software technology that I don’t really want to get into but suffice it to say that I’ve balanced this thing on the top of a needle and wouldn’t want to go through setting the entire thing up again.

My Viper Blog is good old Blogger and while I don’t have to go through the hassle of building a Space Shuttle to get it right, I give up the ability to control it and lose a lot of power to do things like I want them, chief among these things is controlling uptime and forced upgrades.

I think Blogger speaks for itself if you’ve ever used it so you know where I’m coming from. Not long ago, I got a HUGE scare where I thought for a few days that I had lost EVERYTHING on that blog and had accepted that all I could do was to go to places like Way Back Machine and Google’s cache to retrieve as much as I could and try to rebuild it. I started another blog and this is as far as I got before fixing the problem.

But before that happened, I was desperate. I wrote the following to the Blogger folks who seem to have the same customer support helpfulness as Osama Bin Laden somewhere in the hills of Afghanistan. In fact, it would be easier to find him than them.

But it was worth a shot and this is what I wrote on that dark, dark day:

First, I tried to convert my blog to beta and have had no end of problems. Trying to fix it have made my blog inop.

The initial problem was that I had to log into my account every time (“Remember me” didn’t). Also, when I logged in, it said “Click here to continue” but nothing happened. I got around that by right-clicking and opening in a new window which is a pain. Otherwise, I had to forgo IE6 and use Firefox.

After a couple of days of that, I tried to fix it and thought that dropping the GMail account portion would work but that locked me out of my account.

I was stuck and tried to get the system to send me an email telling me the password and login but it seems there was no email associated with my blog and I panicked. I never got an email.

Next, I dug around and found a form that let me “complete” my registration and I thought I recreated a GMail account. I could get a screen with account information but now the worst of all:

Not only does my login not work at all but my blog seems to have disappeared.

Ideally, I should have left well enough alone and never migrated. But now, I would be happy to just get me blog back and account credentials to update.

Please help.

- Jason Grose, Captain, USMC

Maybe you detected in there a small seed of anger tinged with desperation but let me assure you, folks, I was fit to be tied when I wrote that. My Viper Blog goes way back to May of 2005 and I have literally thousands of entries that I would be heartbroken to lose.

I was so mad, this is what I wrote to a friend:

Fucking Blogger.

Here is what I’ve had to resort to.

Be gentle, I’m really pissed off.

http://vipersden2.blogspot.com/

– Vipe

I scoured the support forums and wrote everyone I could. I did everything I could think of and the answers I got usually fell within a common theme: You. Are. Screwed.

I was told I would never see my precious blog again and that the chances that I would even hear back from a representative of Blogger was about the same of shitting out gold Dubloons and razorblades from my bleeding ass.

But lo and behold, I got a simple email that said:

Hi Jason,

Thank you for your note. We’d like to help you, but we’ve detected a discrepancy. According to our records, you have created a second Google Account with the same username. Because it isn’t currently possible to have two Google Accounts with the same username, you’ll either need to change the email address associated with that account, or delete the account altogether before we can retrieve your original account.

To change the email address on your account, just follow these steps:

1. Visit http://www.google.com/accounts
2. Enter your username and password, and click “Sign in.”
3. Click on the “Change email” link under “Personal information.”
4. Enter your new email address and your current password.
5. Click on the “Save email address” button to save the changes.

A verification message will be sent to your new email address, and you’ll need to click on the verification link in this message to complete the change. Please note that for security purposes, a confirmation email will also be sent to your old email address. Clicking the link sent to your old email address will cancel the change and temporarily disable your Google Account.

To delete your Google Account, log in at http://www.google.com/accounts.
Once you log in, click on the “Edit” link next to the “My Services” list.
You’ll be taken to a page that allows you delete your account.

Once you’ve either deleted or changed the email address on your other account, please reply to us so that we can restore access to your original account. We look forward to your reply.

Regards,
The Google Team

So what should I have done? Unloaded on them and told them just how effed up their system is? How they cost me many many nights of sleep and how their complete lack of back-up ability and forced upgrades that hose blogs like you read about is on par with criminal insanity?

Well, I really didn’t exactly go that far…

Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!!!!!

I changed the email address so now the “()” login is free and ready to be restored.

I look forward to seeing my beloved blog back and to a full night’s sleep once again.

Yeah, take that Blogger!

So it was restored and I felt like I had won the lottery. After collecting all of the Dubloons in my chair and stitching up the razorblade wounds, I backed up each month of my blog by displaying it and saving as an archive.

Never again, Blog-holes, will I let you get the better of me. I might have to use you, but I don’t have to like you.

Free Advice for Today: “To explain a romantic break-up, simply say, ‘It was all my fault.’.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

8 comments


Nineteen Years Deserve Spa Treatment

Sunday, March 25th, 2007

Sunday

Quote of the Day: “Duct tape is like the force. It has a light side, a dark side, and it holds the universe together….”

- Carl Zwanzig

Nineteen long years.

I don’t know how she does it.

Yes, folks, today is my 19th wedding anniversary which means that for nearly two decades, Carrie has put up with the likes of me and to tell you the truth, I don’t know how she does it. I guess there are worse husbands but there are damn sure better ones and somehow she looks past that and sticks around. Must be the stumbling good looks and all the money.

I’ve been racking my brain for weeks (OK, days) to figure out what is the perfect gift for her. I did manage to get the card you see above last summer. I was in a bookstore, saw it, and knew I had to get it. Then it sat in my work desk for months until I gave it to her today. If ever there was a perfect card…

I had considered setting up a cruise for us which means I came up to Carrie and said “you think we should go on a cruise?” and then stood back and watched her go to work.

She researched it and after we (she) couldn’t find the perfect cruise, we (she) decided we should put it off until next year when it’ll be our “20th”; more of a milestone that “19th” anyway.

The reason we could not find one was because I didn’t want to go for more than 3 days and she didn’t want to go on the same one we had gone on years ago. Come on, people, stop looking at me like that. Being on a cruise for more than 3 days starts to get painful. MAYBE five days if I grit my teeth and stay drunk but these week long cruises? Better bring a big net capable of fishing out a drunken idiot bent on swimming back to shore.

Now I was stuck with what to do. Hmmm… I got it! How about a spa day?

(All the women’s eyes get big and round, all the men’s slit…)

I know, I know but it’s for HER. Let’s face it, anniversaries are not a “guy” thing; it’s a chick thing and I knew she would enjoy it. All I had to do was lay down the duckies and BOOM, works over for me.

Being smarter than the average bear, I contacted my friend Marisa who lives in the city and who I know did a couple’s spa day with her husband a few months ago. She gave me the information and I…. gave it to Carrie so she could do the research and make the reservation.

Hey, the hunt is part of the gift, right? Back me up here, fellas!!!

We decided to make it a whole day thing so I took her to Chinese buffet for lunch, therefore stuffing ourselves silly before the next step which was NOT going to the spa. I had another little surprise for her… well, it was a surprise up until I told her about it so she could call up and make appointments. Part of the hunt, people!!!!

The appointments were for… um… we kinda…. it was….. OK, it was for manicures and pedicures which, when you stop laughing, I will point out that I absolutely refuse to call it “mani-pedi” because I have to salvage a few molecules of my masculinity here.

No matter how much I justify the necessity of a pedicure by pointing out that bad toenail situations can take a distance runner out of the game, I have no excuse for the manicure other than she was getting one and this was something we were doing together.

The chair they put me in was a piece of crap. It didn’t seem to go back far enough and the little remote control looked like it had been through Nam. The only way I could feel the massage part was if I pushed back really hard which, yeah, real comfortable.

The whole pedicure situation is almost bearable until they start scrubbing with the hard sponge on the bottom and then it’s pure torture. I mean, is it NOT supposed to tickle like crazy? It was like SERE school.

Now compared to most men and in turn, most runners, I have uncommonly good feet and toenails. They basically look like they should and not some rock formation like a lot of men. And through some freak genetic combination, my feet don’t get callous, dry, and the toenails don’t look like a chemistry experiment gone bad. For what I put my feet through, this should not be but I’m not complaining.

So there was not much work to be done and everything went fine until they used a defective buffing pad. Obviously I didn’t want any paint or little damn flower or anything. They offered the as-manly-as-they-could-manage buffing and like every other question they asked me, my response was to turn to my wife and wait for an answer. She said yes to the buffing so a-buffing they went.

But the pad they used was, as I found out, not working all that well. It buffed but it created a lot of heat. She kept stopping and looking at the surface which was starting to tear in places. She would go back to buffing and the heat would start up again creating a rather uncomfortable situation but what the hell did I know, I thought it was supposed to be like that.

I still shutter when I think of it. It’s like nails on a chalkboard.

It wasn’t until the second foot when she gave up on the buffing sponge and opened a new one. With that one, things went a lot better and no heat was created and the shine was like a damn mirror. Ooooh, so THAT’S the way it was supposed to be.

Great, shiny toes.

The manicure was about the same and when all was said and done, I had shiny fingertips, too. I have to admit, they did look clean, healthy, and unlike the normal jagged teeth-chewed stubs I normally sport.

Ok, so now we were stuffed full of Chinese food, my toes were on fire but shiny, and my fingertips looked good enough to get beat up by any of my Marine buddies. It was off to the spa in downtown San Diego.

We were greeted by a tiny pixie smaller than my 12-year-old with a voice that could shatter glass. She was SOOO happy to see us for some reason.

Pixie showed us to our separate bathrooms and of course, I had mine all to myself because no self-respecting man would find himself in such a estrogen-laden establishment unless it was his wedding anniversary or something.

Pixie gave me a key to my own locker and when I went in and opened my locker, there was this big oversized terrycloth robe and some flip flops. I stripped down, put on my “uniform” and checked the place out.

The sink area had all kinds of crap, topped off by scented candles everywhere. The lights were low and some New Age music was pumping through the speakers. They had mouse, gel, hairspray, and 20 other different kinds of “product” ready to spooge into your hair. They had deodorant, body spray, shaving cream (although no razor so WTF?), and a glass jar full of blue liquid and black combs. They had soaps, moisturizers, and an assortment of other liquids, semi-liquids, and powders that I had no idea where to put on my body. I’m pretty sure one of them was for my ass but I wasn’t about to experiment.

I was told by Marisa that the big deal in there was the showers so I grabbed a humongous white towel from a stack of towels that I knew I was going to soil if I had to spit on them and headed for the shower. At these prices, EVERY towel was going to get used for SOMETHING!!!

I don’t know why but there was two shower curtains set apart. OK, I’ll use them both but I wasn’t sure why. Maybe just to create a little changing area but since I was the only guy there and was pretty sure I would remain that way, I was prancing around in the clothes God gave me when I was born.

OK, I wasn’t “prancing.” It’s a figure of speech and I don’t want you getting the wrong idea. Can we move on?

Anyway, the shower WAS pretty cool because it had a big pan straight up that just dumped water straight down like a rainstorm. But the coolest part was that they had three more nozzles on each side shooting straight across. So you got 6 jets throwing water sideways and one big one dumping straight down.

You had to be a little careful because the nozzles were at chest level, groin level, and knee level. The first and last were not the problem. Turn the wrong way and that middle nozzle would definitely grab your attention not only based on the temperature of water you were using but the force at which said water hit areas not exactly built for ropes of water shooting straight at it, if you know what I’m talking about (and I think you do.)

After finishing with the carwash treatment, I got out and used about 4 towels where only one would have sufficed. I donned the robe, pulled out a black comb soaked in some kind of blue liquid that smelled of turpentine, and contemplated using all of the other amenities until I discovered I really didn’t have enough hair to waste the time.

By the time I got out to the lounge area, Carrie still wasn’t there. If they had the spread I described above for the men, I could just imagine what they had for the ladies. It must have looked like a cross between the feminine aisle at Costco and main candy room in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.

When Carrie emerged, we went to the lounge area and realized that being ½ hour early would be great. Being there 1 hour and 15 minutes early was not so great.

Don’t get me wrong, it was nice to hang out with my wife before our dual-massages but there is only so much sitting around naked under a robe while listening to New Age music, watching candles flicker, and wondering what exactly the blue liquid stuff was that was now in my hair.

We did manage to get a glass of wine each in the deal so that, of course, shot up the masculinity factor by quantum leaps. I mean now not only was I in, for all intents and purposes, a giant womb, but now sipping White Zinfandel out of a wine glass.

I think it was at this point my penis fell off.

We were finally called back to the room they had reserved for us. Two women were ready to do what they do and I was actually looking forward to getting my 50-minute massage. The original concept was that we were doing this “together” but “together” meant being in the same room during the massages. The problem was, it didn’t take long before the relaxation bubble that formed around me completely excluded everything and everyone in the room and thus, my lovely wife of 19 years could have been a Yeti and I wouldn’t have known nor cared.

Like they always tell you, you strip to “to your comfort level” when they leave and then get under the sheet. My “comfort level” for these is simple… nothing. To me, it’s the most non-sexual situation so I go down to the buff but as the old joke goes, why is it that you feel comfortable stripping down in front of your spouse and your doctor but not when they are both in the room? Same goes for masseuses, in case you’re curious.

The package we bought not only included the 50-minute massage but a heat wrap. They get these sheets and soak them in some hot water with some kind of moisturizing something-or-other and then wrap you up like a tamale. They have a couple of layers of this and then put a space blanket thing around you and zip you up.

You literally look like a big Chipotle burrito.

After simmering to a medium boil, they unwrapped us and the massage began.

Mistake #1: If a masseuse ever asks you if there is a certain spot you are having trouble with that you want her to concentrate on, NEVER tell her, under any circumstances!

Why?

Because they will hone in on that sore spot and treat it like it said something bad about their mother.

Overall, I have to give two thumbs up to the massage, other than her drilling down into a sore spot on my back until I wanted to slip the silvery bonds of this life.

But again, this was supposed to be something we did together and it wasn’t long before I realized I was not experiencing ANYTHING with my lovely wife. I was immersed in a world of massage.

I did have a fleeting thought at one point if she was still even in the room. I couldn’t see over where she was and I couldn’t hear anything either. I wondered if I was the only one getting the star treatment. Sucks for her… I mean, I hope she is enjoying it as much as I am.

When we got done (always seems too soon), they left the room so we could get dressed and exit when we were ready. Carrie and I compared experiences and she was thinking the same thing I was when she was getting her massage.

So in that way, I guess we DID experience the same thing at the same time.

I wanted to hit the steam room one more time before we left. Before the massage, we tried it but it didn’t have any steam, just the heat. I thought it was a pretty shoddy steam room but now, after the massages, the steam was there in full force so I tried it out. Carrie passed because she didn’t like the concept of an ultra-muggy, hot room where you can sweat your ass off. Women!

I lasted about 2 minutes before stumbling out a soaking mess with beads of water all over my body. I went into the bathroom, dried off (with a fresh towel, of course) and went back in for one more. I lasted about 3 minutes on that try and I had had enough. I was done.

Back in the locker room, I found I was still the only man in there and I got in the carwash again. This time I used the pump bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. In fact, I pushed the pump bottles until my hand was overflowing with the product just so I could use as much as humanly possible and much more than I actually needed.

Getting out of the shower, I used yet another towel. Two, in fact. One for my hair and one for my body. Then one for the floor as I changed. By the time I was done, it looked like a football locker room in there. I was a one-man wrecking crew, thank you very much.

Walking out to the entry way, I looked and felt like Rainman. I was so relaxed that I just sat there like a little kid while Carrie settled the bill. Pixie had been replaced by some other young thing and I was glad when the bill and tip got paid and we strolled out of there on our way home. I wanted to do nothing but take my shiny nails and my relaxed, cleaned up ass home where I would do nothing for the rest of the night except eat and crawl into bed.

Yep, ladies, eat your heart out. That’s what Carrie rolled on the marriage Roulette Wheel and for 19 years, put up with similar putziness.

All kidding aside, I am constantly amazed how lucky I got to spend my life with such a wonderful woman. No man earns such luck, it’s just plain blessing.

Free Advice for Today: “Keep valuable papers in a bank lockbox.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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Big 22 Mile Run

Saturday, March 24th, 2007

Saturday

Quote of the Day: “In the fight between you and the world, back the world.”

- Frank Zappa

I’ve known it was past time to bump up the running mileage because I have the big 50-mile ultra coming up but as you can imagine, it’s not always all that simple to just spontaneously say, hey, let’s go run 20+ miles this Saturday.

That’s when it’s nice to have a running partner.

Well, she’s not exactly a “running partner.” We would have to do more running together than we actually do to be dubbed a running partner. Wendy is simply a lady who I met at the Saturday morning running group that runs about my pace (OK, she’s faster) and who I discovered was running the same 50 miler coming up next month. She had never run that distance or that race, although she had done the 50 K.

Wendy is older than I am but she can run, and run better than me I’ll freely admit. I’ve noticed that she is big into running big on consecutive days which I hate but in the game of ultras, it’s probably the better plan. She simply has more discipline to do it than I have.

So we end up running near each other (she’s more often than not off in the distance ahead of me) and we have half-heartedly tried to stay synced up in our training because we have the same aiming point.

Today, she wanted to tackle a 22-mile training run and I thought it was a good idea to join her. I made sure she knew I wasn’t going to clock anything under a 10-minute overall pace and she was fine with that. She tends to undersell her ability and I tend to fall for it every time. Then before I know it, she’s on the horizon.

Today, we met with the group at a place I had never run before. It’s called Penasquitos Valley which is Spanish for “Leave your testicles at the trail head or we will first crush them and then take them.”

Spanish is a funny language.

I discovered that, all joking aside, I really like this run. First, it’s all a kept trail that goes out 6 miles. If you avoid the shit from various animals to include horse, dog, and quite a few others I’m not sure of, you will have a great path to run on. There is water at the far end and a variety of environments along the way. There are little hills, open fields, shaded areas with little brooks running through them, and rocky areas. It’s a perfect training area for the various conditions we will see at the Bishop Ultra.

When we got to the 6-mile mark, I was feeling pretty good. Wendy had a plan that we would cross a busy road and pick up the trail for another 2.5 miles. Then when we returned to the 6 mile mark, we will have tacked on an extra 5 for a total up to that point of 11. Then the 6 back to the start for a total of 18.

But wait, didn’t I say I was going to do 22?

Oh yeah, I forgot, we showed up early to get a 5-miler in before the main group showed up. Just a little warm up to start the day off which I found harder than it should have been. Maybe it had something to do with going off the beaten path and lumbering up some big hill while talking my fool head off to Wendy and another runner.

So when we hit the 6 mile mark, I was actually feeling 11 and it was starting to warm up. Wendy had never actually gone past this point so we had to kind of rummage around and find the trail and hope it actually went out for another 2.5 miles.

It did but I really hate being in question like that. Some people love it; finding places they have never been to and running around. But I’m more of a creature of habit that likes to know where I’m going, when I’m going to be there, and how long it’s going to take. I’m just like that. Deal with it, I have to!

So when we hit the actual turnaround point, I was feeling a lot better because I was “going home” at that point.

By the time we covered the next 2.5 miles to get back to the little park with water, I was going downhill fast. I started feeling like crap and wondered how I was going to finish this last 6 miles. I didn’t want to actually do the math because that would have made things worse so I just concentrated on one mile at a time.

The last 6 were pretty bad. I savored every single stop and drank a lot of water. I hit my Gu and tried to forget that I was falling apart and getting baked by the heat that was really a factor at this point.

Wendy, of course, seemed unfazed. She stayed ahead of me which was just fine because I didn’t exactly want to share the troubles I was having to deal with nor did I want to fake my way through assuring her I was OK.

I wasn’t.

I was suffering.

By the time I got to the end, it was just survival. I didn’t care about anything but getting done, getting in my car, going home, and do a whole lot of nothing but drink water and sleep for the rest of the day.

You may be wondering why in the hell I put myself through this and to tell the truth, runs like today make me wonder the same thing. It wasn’t exactly a bad run, just the last 6 miles. But then 22 miles is not only half of the ultra I will be running soon so that fact is a little depressing.

I can’t seem to take pride or a sense of accomplishment for the long runs anymore because I’m so stripped down by the end. I always wish I could finish strong, have enough left not to be a total vegetable for the rest of the day, and revel in the fact that I ran farther than anyone I know that day.

But if I ignore my own personal idiosyncrasies, I do have to admit that I found a new place to run that I really like. I will be back, definitely.

Stupidly.

Free Advice for Today: “Remember the three most important things when buying a home: location, location, location.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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The WOW-Hall

Friday, March 23rd, 2007

Friday

Quote of the Day: “The only way of finding the limits of the possible is by going beyond them into the impossible.”

- Arthur C. Clarke

Sometimes on Fridays, there is nothing to do. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind it at all but here is the deal…

Everyone bolts. I mean, it just turns into a ghost town after lunch and so if you decide you should stick around through some strange obligation to put in a full working day or something close to it, you are faced with a dilemma.

You can sit in the office and catch up on email. That sometimes happens.

You can catch up on other paperwork; fitness reports, awards, requests.

You can update training jackets, turnover jackets, orders, policy letters.

You can surf the web, make phone calls to buddies at other bases, pick your nose, wonder why you have no motivation to go and PT.

Because the one thing you CAN’T do is call around to the Company and take care of Company business. Why? Because all you get is voicemail.

There is no use to walking around and talking with people (something I really try to do so I’m not known as just an email or phonecall entity around the base…) because if they aren’t answering their phone, they aren’t going to be in their office.

So I decided to get something to eat at lunch but since no one was around to invite, I ended up going it alone.

At first, I headed to the food court on base and was going to get a sub but the line was too long (read: 3 people) and I didn’t want to wait. It then hit me that I should visit the chowhall. It was cheaper, likely no one was there, I could get all I wanted, and as a leader, I should visit the chowhall that’s provided to the Marines I lead. So off to the chowhall I went.

After I was done, I was so impressed that I walked straight over to the Captain in charge of Food Services to tell him what had happened. He was not in so I went back to my office and wrote him the following email that will explain why I was so impressed.

Capt Grosso,

I felt compelled to inform you of the outstanding noon chow I had at the chowhall today. I stopped by your office after I left but ironically, they said you were at the chowhall where I had just enjoyed a very pleasurable lunch.

I decided to grab some lunch today and stopped by the food court but decided not to wait in that line. Then it occurred to me that I should visit the chowhall. After all, if it’s good enough for my Marines, I should check it out every so often myself, right?

Walking up to the door, I was unsure when it closed. I saw on the door that it closed at 1300 and looking down at my watch, I saw it was 1245. Crap, I thought, this was not good. You go to most buffet-type lunches 15 minutes before they end and you get what you get which is usually less than optimal.

One of the workers there opened the door for me and greeted me warmly. The register lady also greeted me with a smile and I took notice because again, slipping in the door right as an establishment is closing, the workers aren’t always all that happy to see you.

I noticed that you provide both the base paper and the Pendleton paper also which I thought was a great service to those like me who might be eating alone. Both papers were current.

The first thing I noticed was that all the plates, bowls, and silverware were fully stocked and the area was immaculate.

The salad area was in a similar state which again, at any hour was impressive but at this late hour, surprisingly refreshing. All the salad area food was fresh and fully stocked. When I reached the salad dressing, the ranch bin was almost empty although there was enough for me to get my serving. Seeing me dipping deep into the bin, one of the workers rushed up and asked if I wanted her to refill the dressing. I assured her I was fine but the fact remains, she was willing to replace it and grabbed it right after I finished.

I went through the main line and your people were attentive and friendly. There was still plenty of fresh food and I was able to get chicken, potatoes, and rice. I was neither rushed or made to feel awkward for slipping in under the wire.

The beverage area was clean and stocked.

I ate my lunch which was very delicious. I made mental notes as I ate because everything was going so well. The personnel kept busy keeping the chowhall clean but did not start “buttoning up” until 1306 by my watch. In fact, when they started putting stuff away, I looked at my watch and realized they had truly waited until after 1300 to actually put things away.

Again, I looked around the chowhall as I ate and noticed it was clean, pleasant, and the people were busy but not intrusive.

For less than four bucks, I had a filling, delicious lunch in an establishment I feel my Marines deserve.

After I ate, I asked to talk to the director and although they might have thought I was going to complain about something, they got him right away and I expressed the best I could the contents of this email. He appreciated the comments and invited me back at any time.

Just wanted to pass this along because I’m sure like most places, they get an earful of what they do wrong but rarely what they do right. After today, I can confidently say that our chowhall does it right.

Here is the response I got:

Good afternoon Capt Grose,

I was at the recruit mess hall when you stopped by…what can I say, but thank you! Thank you for your comments and the energy you poured into sharing them!

I have never done this before, but I felt compelled to forward your email to the many people that are included in our weekly meetings with Sodexho, The Arc, FSD, Repair Team, Facilities, etc. I didn’t not want to lose anything in my feeble attempt to translate what you painstakingly wrote!

A Big BZ to Mr. John Jordon, Andrew Place, John Madden, Renethia Hall et al at Duncan Hall, mess hall 620! I am so very proud of you! Keep Charging!

Thanks again, Capt Grose!

VR & SF, Capt Grosso

Free Advice for Today: “Never walk out on a quarrel with your wife.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

2 comments


Dudes Chanting

Thursday, March 22nd, 2007

Thursday

Quote of the Day: “The best defense against the atom bomb is not to be there when it goes off.”

- Unknown





I discovered a new kind of music today and I’ve been enthralled.

It started with a very stupid and childish clip of “The Atomic Situp.” If you haven’t watched it, go here and take a look.

Anyway, the best part of that clip was the perfect song they played during “the money shot” so of course, I have to focus in on that and let research overcome everything in my existence until I’ve totally exhausted every nuance of the concept.

That’s just me being me.

So I go over to YouTube (a common occurrence these days) and type in “Sounds of Silence.”

Let me take a side road for a second and point out that what I’m documenting here is a kind of a time-capsule/milestone because I might be looking back on this someday and discovering that either this was my first description of the then-burgeoning but now incredible ubiquitous YouTube experience or something that really never took off. Kind of like the first time I Googled but that is another story…

Back to my research, I found many entries. This drives my wife nuts because it don’t take much to catch my interest and then I have to scour the net on YouTube, IMDB, and Google to beat the horse until it’s utterly unrecognizable.

What I found is this strange entry for Masters of Chant.

What the hell is that?

I knew of only two songs that I really dug that had chanting in it:

Sadness by Enigma

Desert Rose by Sting

I don’t even know if that second one even counts because it’s that Middle Eastern yodeling thing that I’ve found painfully annoying in everything I’ve ever heard except this song.

But when I played this video, it was mesmerizing. First, it was a song I knew so that’s good. I didn’t know if these guys were even real monks or just performers but it was cool to hear a song that you knew done in chant fashion. The video was all mystical too so that added to the effect.

And because I’m a sucker for what YouTube intends, I fell right into the “suggested” links that show related content. What I then found was that there are all kinds of songs redone by these guys. Songs that are popular so of course I had to check them out.

I pretty much spent most of the night listening to these songs and was enchanted (get it? enCHANTed…. yeah…). I thought that these songs would be perfect for my long-distance running. Hearing something beautiful, haunting, and mystical while out there in the double-digit miles might be exactly what I need during those hard times. Either that or galactically annoying.

If you were wondering, I did find the Simon and Garfunkel version of Sounds of Silence

… and listened to it. It was pretty cool but I was more interested in how I come about new forms of music. I think that’s part of the fun of the web. You end up going down side paths and discovering very interesting content you would have never come across any other way.

And porn too but you take the good with the bad.

Here are some other songs I found interesting in chant:

Boulevard Of Broken Dreams
Bridge Over Troubled Water
Comfortably Numb
Fade To Grey
Fields Of Gold
First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
Imagine
In The Air Tonight
Losing My Religion
Nothing Else Matters
Ordinary World
Save A Prayer
Send Me An Angel
Silent Lucidity
Stairway to Heaven
Tears In Heaven
The Sound Of Silence
The Unforgiven
When A Man Love Loves A Woman
Wicked Game
Wish You Were Here
With Or Without You

Free Advice for Today: “Seek opportunity, not security. A boat in a harbor is safe, but in time its bottom will rot out.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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