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Running Pretty

Saturday, June 30th, 2007


Quote of the Day: “You get fifteen democrats in a room, and you get twenty opinions.”

- Senator Patrick Leahy

Yesterday was the Freedom Run and the only one that felt free enough to run it with me was my daughter Steph. The rest of my family are Communists!

OK, maybe that’s a bit harsh. But the fact remains, only Steph and I ran the 3 mile run on the Depot and I really enjoyed running with my daughter.

Of my two spawn, only Steph even shows the slightest interest in running but I hold out hope seeing how I didn’t really get into the sport until I was 32.

But you know what was the most depressing about it? I run marathons, ultras, and 7-mile training runs 3 times a week and I still felt this slow trot-of-a-run. Maybe it was the heat or that I didn’t take it all that serious but while I was encouraging my daughter down the back 40, I was thinking, man, I hope I don’t faint.

What is up with that?

The other thought I had during the run was how strange it was that I was running on the Depot with my teenage daughter. This sacred place where so many years ago I was a scared teenager myself. I was running literally the same pavement I ran as a Recruit and today I looked over to see my daughter struggling along the same stretch.

If I were to reverse this, what would the Recruit version of me have thought about the image of seeing my future daughter in this place of utter horror someday? My imagination can’t even wrap itself around this concept.

Back to the present, I really enjoyed running with my beautiful daughter and hope someday the running bug will bite her harder so that maybe, MAYBE (doth I wish so high?) we could run a marathon together.

Free Advice for Today: “Never give a gift that’s not beautifully wrapped.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

No comments are allowed on this one ... sorry

So Long, Suzi

Friday, June 29th, 2007


Quote of the Day: “The important work of moving the world forward does not wait to be done by perfect men.”

- George Eliot

I finally parted ways with my bike.

The journey has been a long and embarrassing one but as of today, I had to bid farewell to my motorcycle and to be perfectly honest, I’m a little sad about it.

It all started back when I was stationed at 29 Palms and I had an XO I didn’t like all that much. But I thought it was cool that he rode a motorcycle into work every day. I got it into my head that there was no reason I shouldn’t own a bike. I mean, I was living in the desert where there was miles and miles of open road just waiting for me.

I’m not a daredevil by any stretch of the imagination and I figured that I could be safe on a bike because I was overly cautious by nature. I even signed up for a class and did it on a Saturday…in the summer….in 29 Palms!!!!

I thought I was going to melt but I passed.

When I got the idea about even getting a bike, I was hesitant to bring the news home. I thought my wife would freak ten ways to Sunday but when I told her, she surprised me and said “Sure, if that’s what you want.”

I was floored.

We went to the Harley dealership even though an actual Harley was the farthest thing from my desire. It just happened to be the only bike shop in town and when we walked in, I looked to my left and saw the bike I wanted. Knowing that you NEVER go with the first thing you see, I dutifully checked out all the bikes but kept going back to the Suzuki 500GS.

By the end of our visit, I was signing the paperwork for that very bike.

I was pretty happy with it at first and loved the feeling of driving the wide, desert roads, especially through Joshua Tree National Park.

But there was that one time at the beginning when it wouldn’t start and I did a slow motion lay down of the bike, got really pissed off, ripped off my helmet, and threw it at the bike making a mark on the helmet.

That was a bad day.

But I put the most miles on it that year I had it and really enjoyed the long rides to clear my mind after the tough work as the Adjutant for First Tanks and 7th Marines.

We then moved to Monterey where I rode it quite a few times with friends. We would go on all day rides and it was the first time I rode in a “pack.” The adventure of riding all around the central California area was epic. Through wine country and places right out of Hemingway novels.

I was there for two years and that was the first year. The second year, it sat under a tarp in my open garage and the salty air didn’t do it any favors. I got bogged down with school work and after my friends moved on, I just didn’t get it out and ride anymore. Each day I would see it in the garage and felt a deep stab of guilt.

Our next move took us to Virginia and it was worse. I would periodically take it in to the shop and a few hundred bucks later for a tune up, it would once again sit in the garage. And because it would be so long between rides, even with the tune ups, it would konk out of me often and I would have to take very long, very pissed off walks home.

The guilt factor of it sitting in the garage was still there too.

When we left Virginia, I had to drain all the fluids so the movers would take it. While using a pump to get the rest of the gas out of the tank, I lost the plastic tubing and thought it went into the tank. I could not retrieve it and my neighbor helped me take the tank off. We didn’t find it in there after turning the tank upside down and when we tried to put the tank on, I wasn’t confident I got it on just right.

I should point out what I’ve neglected to share with you up to this point. I have the mechanical know-how of a blind baby gerbil. Not a great trait when you own a motorcycle.

My neighbor finally found that tubing. Seems it somehow got into the plastic gas can we were using which I gave to him when we moved. Then it must have dissolved and he used that gas for his riding lawnmower and it ruined his engine.

Oops, sorry Skip.

When we got to California, the bike sat in the garage for over a year. The tags had expired and I didn’t even bother to put the fluids back in on the assumption that as long as it was dry, it would be better preserved. Baby gerbil, people.

That brings us to the present when I finally had to accept that I needed to sell it. It deserved to actually be used.

I put it on Craig’s List and got a few calls. What I SHOULD have specified was “cash only” and “as is.”

But I didn’t so when the guy came to look at it, he had all kinds of questions. I was upfront with him and told him the history. He wanted to come back the next day and put fluids in it and drive it away.

I should have stuck to my guns better than I did but just like I folded on the price, I went against my better judgment and told him I would hold it for him.

Then I lost a couple of nights of sleep because I just knew he was going to put oil and gas in the damn thing and then it wouldn’t start. Then we would be at an impasse because I already had his money and I didn’t want to say something like “Look, you bought it, get it off my property.”

I was so stressed about this that I didn’t even want to deal with him. I stayed in the house while Carrie dealt with him and in the end, they came with a truck and loaded it up while I watched from an upstairs window. I couldn’t even watch them finish and came down a half hour later.

“Are they gone?”
“Did they load the bike?”

With compassion and understanding, she told me,

“Yes, they took it. It’s gone”

And at that moment, I had two emotions hit me at the same time. Relief that it was over and sadness that my motorcycle was gone forever.

A few links to past motorcycle mentions in this blog.

Free Advice for Today: “When in doubt about what art to put on a wall, chose a framed black-and-white photo by Ansel Adams.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.


Who’s Craig and Why Does He Keep a List?

Thursday, June 28th, 2007


Quote of the Day: “What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure.”

- Samuel Johnson

I have rediscovered Craig’s List.

I have sold stuff on there before so I know it works but like these things happen, I finally got the motivation to actually put stuff up on there and lo and behold, they sold.

Amazing, huh?

What IS amazing is the crap people will buy.

For example, we put up a few things we had laying around the house to include a multi-game table that was mainly for foosball.

This is all I put:

Full-sized foosball table but can be converted to play many other games.

- Mini pool table
- Mini air hockey
- Mini ping pong
- others

Includes most accessories.

Kids loved it but outgrew it. Great condition.

If interested, call (xxx)xxx-xxxx

You would think I was selling garbage bags full of crack for $5.

We got a call within 10 minutes of posting this. Then another. And another.

We sold it pretty quick but what was more surprising was that the calls kept coming.

And the emails.

Why, I ask, are foosball tables in such high demand in this area?

Finally, I had enough and went back onto Craig’s List and removed the posting so the sweet sound of silence could once again exist in my house.

Good God, people, it was a damn FOOSBALL table! And it sucked at that! Why do you think I was selling it?

I also put up a couple of more things like my handheld GPS that has been collecting dust for years. I thought it was a good idea at the time and actually used it a bit. I bought it when I lived in Monterey so I would know how far I was running without having to go out on Friday nights and tie trashbags to mile marks in order to let me know how far I had gone. With a GPS, I could instantly tell.

Then I kind of got into just running for time and estimating my distance. Easier to lie that way.

We’ll see if it sells.

Carrie has also been trying to get me to sell the motorcycle but I’ve been putting it off. Not because I don’t want to part with it but because I know it will be a tremendous pain in the ass to go through everything we will need to do to get it sold.

We’ve had success in selling our riding lawnmower on Craig’s List and even found our renter using that. But that’s not really a big advertising bonus for the service since we have had more than a little trouble with our renter.

Basically, she has been late with the rent every month and now she decided that she just should stop paying the rent all together.

Double rent really tends to make me a bit grumpy so if I seem a little out of sorts in the near future…BINGO.

Oh, and to tie things up, this is why we are turning to Craig’s List to sell the fodder in our life. We needs the money because the bitch-of-a-renter has stopped paying.

I guess I will need to get that bike sold.

Free Advice for Today: “When uncertain what to wear, a blue blazer, worn with gray wool slacks, a white shirt, and a red-and-blue striped silk tie, is almost always appropriate.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.


First Kiss

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007


Quote of the Day: “The average, healthy, well-adjusted adult gets up at seven-thirty in the morning feeling just plain terrible.”

- Jean Kerr

Way Back Wednesday, folks.

My first kiss was by Susan (Parker) who, not surprisingly, instigated the entire thing.

And because I can be fairly certain that Susan, who probably still lives near Oklahoma or the general Midwest, does not nor ever will read this, I will not change her name to protect the innocent.

Wait, she’s probably a wife and mother now so, yeah, just on the off chance she reads this or someone knows her maiden name, I’ll change it..

(going back and changing the name…..)

OK, are we ready now?

I think it was 1979 which would put me at 11-years-old and in the 5th grade. I was going to Apollo Elementary School in Oklahoma City and living in the Railhead Apartments with my single mother and older brother.

Susan was a …forward little thing. A bit on the wild side.

I, on the other hand, was so painfully shy that I would probably have hit puberty without kissing a girl if there weren’t girls like Susan.

We were playing at the park near my apartments under the covered area where they had picnic tables and fireplaces for BBQing. Susan asked me if I had ever gone with anyone.

“Gone where?”
“No, gone, with some one. A girl.”
“Gone where?”

On the suave scale, I was near the retarded end.

“No,, when you go with a girl, it means you are girlfriend and boyfriend.”
“Have you?”
“No, I don’t think so.”
“Do you want to go with me?”

I’m sure I would have almost surely said “Go where?” but I don’t think I was THAT befuddled.

“We have to seal it with a kiss.”

As she was saying all this, she was edging closer and closer to me and with that last sentence, she leaned over and planted one right on my lips.

My first kiss.

I remember being rather confused at what exactly was expected of me at this point but I knew I was in uncharted territory.

I was officially “going” with a girl and I was so happy, I did the most obvious thing there is to do in this situation. I picked up a piece of burnt wood from the fireplace and proceeded to write “I love Susan” and “Jason Loves Susan” on the structure’s wall along with all the other graffiti.

Some time later I was at that park with a friend and was writing something on that wall with another piece of burnt wood when an old man snuck up and caught me.

Ah HA! You’re the one that’s been doing it!”

I looked around at all of the ancient and intricate graffiti all over the inside walls and couldn’t understand how he could possibly think that I could have managed to do such work when my best stuff was black smears with burnt wood.

My “buddy” took off and in hindsight, I don’t know why I didn’t follow. The guy must have been in his 70s and there is no way he could have even chased us. But he told me to stay put and he called the security while I waited there like a complete idiot.

They took me to the police station and called my mother who stopped by the park before she came over to pick me up.

I now know they just wanted to scare me and they succeeded but I was so embarrassed when my mom had to come get me. And then she said to me “I saw something on there that said ‘Jason loves Susan.’ Did you write that?”

Damn. The ONLY other thing I wrote.

I was mortified.

Anyway, back to Susan.

The other memories I have of Susan was when we used to crawl through drainage ditches over by the park.

Hey, it was Oklahoma and I was 11. That was high adventure!

There was a ¼ mile stretch of underground drainage pipe that you had to get on your hands and knees to get through. Thinking about it now, a flash flood would have killed us but I held it as a source of pride that I could make it all the way through. Kind of the beginning of the whole “I can do things you can’t” attitude that has now evolved into ultrarunning.

But I digress.

Back to Susan. We were at the mouth of the drainage pipe one day and I had gone in first. When I turned around, Susan had lifted her shirt to show me her bare chest but the sun was shining behind her and all I could see was dark silhouette.

I guess “I don’t see nothing” was not the right response she was looking for.

I really didn’t see anything but what Susan’s older sister saw when she unexpectedly poked her head down and flashed her flashlight was Susan’s bare back.

When the yelling commenced, I continued on and hid in the pipe for a very long time.

Susan and I didn’t last very long but she does hold the title of my first kiss, the first girl I “went” with, and the first girl to show me her chest (sorta).

The only other memory I have of Susan is a year later when I was in 6th grade, she was “going” with another kid and on the way to and from school, they would make out right in front of everyone. And I mean smashing their faces together in complete and untethered lust. I remember thinking how grown up they seemed to me.

As a follow up, I moved away a few years after that to the other part of town and became friends with Susan’s cousin who had the same last name. Kathy was a lot more tame and ended up marrying one of my good friends and general heart throb of the high school I went to back then.

Free Advice for Today: “Don’t ride in a car if the driver has been drinking.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

No comments are allowed on this one ... sorry

Dinner Is Served

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007


Quote of the Day: “At my lemonade stand I used to give the first glass away free and charge five dollars for the second glass. The refill contained the antidote.”

- Emo Phillips

Sometimes I get ideas and they mutate.

For example, I thought it would be nice to have a couple of the Wounded Warrior Marines over for dinner. I was thinking two or three of the ones I deal with a lot and ones that Carrie works with when she is involved in some of the functions.

So I put out the invite and didn’t hear any definitive word until the last minute.

One couldn’t make it and I invited another one. Then he called me on the way home and asked if such-and-such could come too.

“Sure!” I said without asking Carrie.

Can you see where this is going?

I called Carrie and told her what I knew.

Then I get another call asking if such-and-such could bring his girlfriend.

“Uh, sure, I guess so.”

This happened a few more times until I wasn’t sure how many were actually going to be there but it was definitely more than Carrie was expecting. She was get farther and farther away from her happy place a little more each time I called back.

I then got in touch with Killjoy who was traveling cross-country and ending up right up the road at Camp Pendleton.

“So, you guys just got in?”

“Yup, we’re here in California.”

“What are you guys doing for dinner?”

At this point, I knew Killjoy would not be feeling social and in any mood to do the dinner thing.


“Come on over then. Carrie is making spaghetti.”



So I had to call Carrie who more or less blew her lid over two more invited guests. She made me stop at the store to buy more salad and bread as penance.

OK, I can do this.

The bread was somewhat easy. The salad SHOULD have been easy but they didn’t have the right kind of mix that we normally get and when I rang Carrie for help, I got the Monster who was in no mood to do anything but continue to freak out over the concept of too many guests she didn’t know combined with not enough food and people showing up before I got home. She hung up on me.

It all turned out fine and everyone showed up around the time we expected them to. Of course, Carrie pulled off a miracle with having enough good food for everyone and we had a nice time with everyone.

Killjoy showed up all pregnant but you couldn’t tell. SHE could tell and made sure we knew that she felt like a bloated rhino carcass but she looked great. She also has long, curly hair now which was strange since the last time I saw her a year ago, it was short and ironed flat as a pancake.

The dinner went off fine with everyone telling stories around our big dining room table and it seemed everyone had a great time. I sent them all away with a full belly and with smiles on their faces so it couldn’t have been too bad for them.

And some left with fuller bellies than others but I told Killjoy I would lay off the pregasaurus jokes. I just don’t understand why she won’t call me back when I call her and leave messages for “Big Red.”

Free Advice for Today: “Keep a diary of your accomplishments at work. Then when you ask for a raise, you’ll have the information you need to back it up.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.


Is Room 1408 Available?

Monday, June 25th, 2007


Quote of the Day: “Don’t you wish there were a knob on the TV to turn up the intelligence? There’s one marked ‘Brightness,’ but it doesn’t work.”

- Gallagher

There are few times in my adult life that I get hyped off of a movie trailer.

There are even fewer times that I get spooked.

But both of those things have been happening lately when I see the trailer of “1408.”

Maybe it’s the childhood memories of seeing “The Shining” and “Amityville Horror” but the trailer for “1408” just scares the holy living shit out of me. Ironically, Stephen King wrote this as well as “The Shining” so I guess this guy really knows how to scare me like a little school girl.

Every time I saw the trailer, I would get goosebumps and knew I would have to make a rare appearance at a movie theater.

What’s strange about this is that there was another trailer that scared me but to the point that I refused to see the movie. It was “The Grudge” and just seeing Sarah Michelle Geller in the shower (normally not a scary thing. Normally enough to get me to make a rare appearance at the movie theater) when she reaches behind her head to wash her hair and some kind of creature is growing out of her skull….sorry folks, game over.

Not gonna see it. Just describing it just now made me pee just a little.

I don’t know if it was any good or successful. I just knew I would not be sitting through it which is the opposite of what I felt about “1408.”

Maybe it was just marketing at its best. The trailer makers sure did I good job of picking out some really scary parts plus, if you know me, if you have a cute little ghost girl asking her daddy why he doesn’t love her anymore, I’m shelling out the duckies.

I think another part that really got me was when he was nearly frozen, staring into his computer, making a desperate plea for help to his girlfriend using video chat and she says something to the effect that the police were in 1408 right now and there’s nobody there.

THAT totally freaked me out.

I took Carrie to see the movie and I had built it up in my mind so much that it could have completely sucked and I wouldn’t have thought so. I really enjoyed the concept and had a good time watching it.

Gotta love Stephen King.

There was some debate on the Net about the ending but I only read it with minimal interest. I think they got out and the last scene proved it happened. Case closed.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go change my drawers.

Free Advice for Today: “Remember the advice of our friend Ken Beck: When you see a box turtle crossing the road, stop and put it safely on the other side.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

No comments are allowed on this one ... sorry

Steph Drives Me…Around The Mall

Sunday, June 24th, 2007


Quote of the Day: “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

- Thomas A. Edison

(Why the wild-eyes look? Not really sure.)

I know I didn’t cover them very well in the blog and I hope they don’t take offense but my brother-in-law and his family left today.

But the thing I did RIGHT today was keeping a promise to my daughter.

When my son turned into a teenager, I took him out driving. What I mean is I let HIM drive.

Not autobahn-like or anything, at a park-and-ride on the weekend when we lived in Virginia, keeping the ancient Grose tradition (starting with me and my brother so I don’t know if “ancient” is the right term) of teaching the youngens how to drive in a park-and-ride. My dad took me to the one off of I-5 and 272nd just like he took my brother.

Not that I like to mimic everything my dad does but since I did it for Alex, Steph would sooner forget to breath than to forget it was her turn when she turned 13.

And I know, I’m a couple of weeks late but I’ve been busy… sorta.

I really didn’t know where to take her, after scouring the Internet for a local park-and-ride, and ended up going to a local mall with the hopes that they would be closed and the parking lots would be empty.

Seems that there IS a P-N-R around here but Atlantis would be easier to find. It must be just an empty parking lot that stays empty because no one knows where it is except the bus drivers.

“Damn, no passengers again. This location sucks!”

I parked the car, got out, and switched seats with my little girl and let her have the wheel for the first time in her young life. I could tell she was a bit nervous but I assured her that I would show her everything she needed to know and above all, I would not get upset at anything. We would take it slow and everything would be fine.


I’m such an ass.

I went over the mirrors, the steering wheel, the pedals, and the airbags that would deploy if she careened into oncoming traffic and smashed the car into an exploding fireball.

You know, all the basics.

We practiced her driving and she was a natural; picking up the concept of driving, steering, and applying pressure to the different pedals intuitively. I was so proud of her and made sure I didn’t do anything to make her nervous. Just good old fashioned praise and encouragement.

We mad a few circuits around the parking lot practicing turns, stops, and parking.

And no fireballs so that was good.

We drove home (well, I drove home. She wasn’t THAT good) and I could tell she really enjoyed the lesson. She also said something very similar to what Alex said after I took him two years ago.

“I never realized how complicated it was to drive on the road and I notice so much more now.”

Free Advice for Today: “Carry Handi-Wipes in your glove box.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.


Shamu Sucks

Saturday, June 23rd, 2007


Quote of the Day: “Most turkeys taste better the day after; my mother’s tasted better the day before.”

- Rita Rudner

(Look kids, a man with a killer whale up his ass!)


Is becoming Sea Food World to me.

And I HATE seafood.

It’s really not Seaworld’s fault. It’s a great place… the first few dozen times you visit it. But after the umpteenth time, it just a little slice of hell ranking right up there with cold-handed testicular exams.

The same thing happened with D.C. when we lived there with the monuments. And the museums. And the monuments. And the museums.

And the monuments. And the museums.

But with family in town with my little nephews, a trip to Seaworld was unavoidable. The fact that my little nephews wanted to go was the ONLY thing that got me to take the plunge and once again, wade through the hordes of humanity (all tourists) and go to the same cheesy, boring, stupid shows.

You can guess what kind of mood I was in and the Herculean effort it took not to ruin it for the little ones.

Maybe I shouldn’t have told them that the BBQ carts were full of the animals that didn’t quite impress the trainers enough.

The one schtick that really bugs the crap out of me is when they drag a “family” up to meet Shamu and you are led to believe they were picked out of the crowd. At some point, the mother sits too close to the edge while the trainer is working with the kid and the mom falls in. The crowd buys the whole thing even when she grabs on to the passing whale and is dragged around the tank, showing how utterly stupid they think we are (and how stupid some of us actually are for believing it).

Then lo and behold, the “mom” is introduced as one of the trainers and the crowd eats it up.

“Hey, we just fooled you dumbasses and you are clapping for us! Yay!!!”

It’s even dumber when you know it’s coming.

And a little morbid that they still do it after one of the whales dragged a trainer to the bottom recently (which I secretly found HILARIOUS)…

WHAT?! He/She turned out OK, I think… too lazy to look it up.

I wasn’t feeling too well to begin with so I only stayed through a few hours and then made my way home. In this contingency, I had driven my car separately so I drove home after spending 20 minutes wandering around looking for my car, pointing my fob in every direction as I looked.

I blamed Seaworld for this.

I probably should have noticed that I was parked in the “Baby Shamu” section but I’m not surprised I didn’t notice that when we parked in a nearly empty place that morning.

I drove home and slept for most of the rest of the day. Carrie and the rest of the family stayed until something like midnight watching “Shamu Rocks,” which was some kind of nighttime show or something.

Just for the record, I don’t think Shamu rocks.

I think Shamu sucks.

Free Advice for Today: “When negotiating your salary, think of what you want; then ask for ten percent more.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.


A New Beginning

Saturday, June 23rd, 2007

Readers, I know I’m a few months behind but I’m getting back on the horse. (Maybe I should use another metaphor…).

I have temporarily taken down recent posts (even though THEY had become dated) and will fill in the blanks until I catch up.

Believe it or not, I have been writing but not publishing. My blog turns into Swiss cheese like that sometimes but I eventually get caught up.

So here I go, I’ll be posting some later today and will be making a Herculean effort to get current.


The Sadness Continues

Friday, June 22nd, 2007


Quote of the Day: “The main dangers in this life are the people who want to change everything – or nothing.”

- Nancy Astor

Yesterday I wrote a really bad blog entry.

And I’m afraid today’s won’t be much better. I can try to put on the fake veneer of a real entry written back in June but really, I’m not doing my family justice because I pretty much forgot everything that happened.

Although I do have a clue. One note said “sick” and I do remember feeling a little under the weather when my brother-in-law and his family were here.

But then I follow up with “Set up class” and I have no idea what June Jason is talking about.

What class?

I didn’t set up a class.


For what?

I suck.

So I need to come up with something worthwhile…. let’s see…what have I not shared that would be interesting to the general blogosphere?

During my childhood, my mom had a Siamese cat named “Leroy” and my dad had a black cat named “Sambo.”

Not very PC, if you ask me.

And if that is not funny, consider my mom was full-blooded Mexican with a Siamese cat named Leroy…living in Oklahoma.

Now THAT’S funny.

Free Advice for Today: “Attend high school art shows, and always buy something.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.