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So Long, Colonel

Wednesday, July 11th, 2007

Wednesday

Quote of the Day: “And that’s the world in a nutshell, an appropriate receptacle.”

- Stan Dunn

Today I was honored to be in the VIP section for the Recruit Training Regiment, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego California change of command.

OK, maybe just about everyone in attendance got seats in the “taco stand” (what we affectionately call the VIP area), but still, I was honored. It don’t take much, folks.

One of the main reasons I was there was because the outgoing Colonel showed up to my change of command a few months ago and if a full bird Colonel can find the time to show up at a Captain’s ceremony, the least I can do is return the favor.

But this doesn’t surprise me much since this Officer was always very respectful and gracious when I worked in Virginia and would come to the Depot on business. He’s just that kind of person and I have a very high level of respect for him.

It’s always a little sad to watch, though, as someone gives up a command, especially at a Regimental level. Not that the Colonel is being put out to pasture or anything. He’s moving up to be the Chief of Staff at First Marine Division which is the fast track to a General star. Godspeed, Colonel.

It was an honor to be at the ceremony and once again, I got to be witness to a part of the Depot history.

Free Advice for Today: “Don’t take 11 items to the 10 Items Express Check-Out lane.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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Transform It Into A Better Flick

Tuesday, July 10th, 2007

Tuesday

Quote of the Day: “In taking revenge, a man is but even with his enemy; but in passing it over, he is superior.”

- Sir Francis Bacon

Tonight I went to the movies with my brother-in-law and son to see The Transformers.

I was not into the Transformers as a kid. In fact, I knew nothing about them except that they were some kind of cartoon that I didn’t watch. I think it was that time when I was too old for those kind of cartoons so I didn’t know the different characters.

This made me feel like I was missing out somehow because it seemed that these were familiar characters to everyone but me and when they came onscreen, people seemed to enjoy how they had updated their favorite Transformers using modern day CGI.

I have to admit, the special effects were amazing. No longer do they hide particularly intricate special effects with shadows and convenient angles that hide detail. When these things changed over, it was like you were up close and in full light.

But that created a problem.. It was TOO much detail. I got dizzy trying to process the details I was being seen and on a large screen, my head was swiveling to see different parts that were, well, transforming.

And then it started to get old when they would show scene after scene after scene of this intricate transformation with insane detail. I haven’t seen this much overkill in the special effects department since the last Pirates of the Caribbean movie.

There was plenty for the kids to see and there was also a little something for the dads in the audience. The story called for a supporting character that was beautiful. So as good as they were in the special effects department to go overboard with that aspect of the film, they found this actress that made all the men in the audience eyes bug out.

Whoever this actress is, they made her look pretty appealing. Maybe it had something to do with a close-up of her bare belly and working the camera slowly toward her soft-lit face but I will announce that she was distractingly pretty in just about every scene.

But not enough to carry the movie. It was, I don’t know, about 4 days long.

Ooh, let me guess, they are going to TRANSFORM! Hey, I know, why don’t they get a close up and show an amount of detail that I can’t possibly take in completely. Can you also crank the volume up so we hear every little servo whizzing for like 4 minutes at a stretch?

Cool.

Then they got to the comical deep voices that sounded like some kid learning how to manipulate Soundforge for the first time.

This was coupled with very cheesy morality themes and in the end left me looking at my watch several times.

But Alex liked it so at least the boy got something out of it. When I was his age, Pete’s Dragon was the height of special effects.

Free Advice for Today: “When traveling the backroads, stop whenever you see a sign that reads ‘Honey For Sale.’”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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Viper Hell: Seaworld All Day Every Day

Monday, July 9th, 2007

Monday

Quote of the Day: “Men are not against you; they are merely for themselves.”

- Gene Fowler

Not Seaworld again, not Seaworld again, not Seaworld again, not Seaworld again, not Seaworld again, not Seaworld again, not Seaworld again, not Seaworld again, not Seaworld again…

“Babe, they want to go to Seaworld today.”

DAMN IT!

That’s it, I’m not going. I can’t. I just can’t go. Not again.

I can’t wait in the same lines with the same fat, clueless tourists. I can’t waddle into the same cheesy shows and see the same cheesy shtick.

I can’t look at the same cheap, overpriced, confoundedly stupid souvenirs.

I’ll stay home, thank you very much.

I just have never been able to overcome what many, obviously better, parents have been able to do: suspend their sanity to sit through all the stuff kids go monkey over. Over the years I have accomplished it to some degree but it’s been my lovely wife that had been the real trooper here and took the kids to your Lands Before Time, your Barneys On Ice, etc.

I have only been able to stomach some of it that has some semblance of adult appeal; your Lion Kings, your zoos, your Looney Toons.

Maybe I’ll do better as a grandfather. Time will tell.

Carrie, the kids, and our guests made their way to Seaweedworld and I stayed at home doing what, left to my own devices, turns into the perfect Friday night: reading, writing, surfing, eating, and watching TiVo’ed episodes of The Daily Show.

I live such an exciting life sometimes.

I think I vaguely remember them coming back at midnight or so. I guess they saw Shamu rock, or as I refer to it “Shamu SUCKS!”

Free Advice for Today: “Buy a new tie to wear to your wedding rehearsal dinner. Wear it only once. Keep it forever.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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Life’s a Beach and Then you Fry

Sunday, July 8th, 2007

Sunday

Quote of the Day: “If God had really intended men to fly, he’d make it easier to get to the airport.”

- George Winters

My brother-in-law is in town with his family and when you are in San Diego, what do you have to do?

No, Tijuana aside, what ELSE do you have to do?

Since you are obviously flailing for an answer, let me help you out a little.

Beach! You have to go to the BEACH!

Must I walk you through everything here?

As you can imagine, I’m not a HUGE beach guy…I guess in every interpretation of that statement but what I MEANT was that going out to a huge expanse of grainy sand next to a cold body of salt water to watch the general fatness of the American population is not what I would put at the top of my “to do” list.

I’m just a big ball of joy sometimes, ain’t I?

I guess it all started when we went down to the beach and parking was, let’s say, a bit challenging. And you know what makes it even more challenging? When Big-Truck-Jackass thinks he should take up two parking spots on the road because he thinks he’s that much more special than everyone else trying to cram their car in an overpopulated, popular area.

It took all I had not to key the piss out of that damn thing.

We found parking and hauled all of our crap stuff, to the beach and set up.

Now I’ve been running outside every day at lunch so of course I have a golden brown tan.

Sun screen?

Puh-LEASE!

Yeah, I burned like an albino straddling the equator.

Why? Every time I fall for it.

But my chest was only exposed for like an hour! It shouldn’t..

There just is no justice in this world.

We I finished burning our my skin (maybe only me but I can’t confirm that) and headed home to get ready which involved taking a shower that might as well have been shards of salt blasted at me at light speed.

It was time to take our guests to the OTHER must-go-to in San Diego.

No, NOT TJ. Again, can you get past your fixation?

It was time to take them to Casa Guadalarjara’s.

I swear I should get a kickback from this place because I bring them more business than Oprah’s assistants bring her Ho-Hos.

The food isn’t even all that good but it’s the atmosphere. It’s “authentic” only as far as the most cliché of all clichés about Mexico goes. It has the elaborate costumes, the guys roaming around playing their little guitars, and all the flora and fauna that you would expect to see on a movie set if someone who has never actually been to Mexico wanted to dress someplace up to look “Mexican.”

But it’s fun and Carrie likes the margaritas. It didn’t take long before I realized I would be driving home. It was about the point that the waiter brought out a bathtub full of margarita for my wife.

Keys, please.

As if on cue, I chipped out and was in no shape to attack a chimichanga when it arrived. I ate about ¼ of it and suddenly it looked like a big hairy turd sitting on my plate so needless to say, I was done.

Looking over at my bro-in-law, I knew he was in the same big bloated boat.

Much like the lifeless chimichanga laying on my plate like so much fecal matter, I was stuffed, fried, and ready to go home. OK, maybe that last part has nothing to do with a chimi but I am too tired to stretch the analogy.

We went home and for the second night, everyone assumed their roles as computer geek, video game-heads, and clucking chickens.

When I went to say goodnight, all I got was “Oh, you just got POWNed!” and “ba-GOK!”

Free Advice for Today: “Use a favorite picture of a loved one as a bookmark.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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Schramm-Time Again

Saturday, July 7th, 2007

Saturday

Quote of the Day: “Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It’s the transition that’s troublesome.”

- Isaac Asimov

I had last blogged about family in town and did a really bad job of it. Really bad.

But to redeem myself, we had a fresh set of in-laws show up today in the form of my wife’s brother Scott and his wife Kristine, son Ben, and daughter Maddie who, as you might have guessed, has a favorite uncle and that uncle is…wait for it…. ME!

For you long suffering time blog readers of mine, you will recognize these people as the ones that we have a standing requirement to join at Godfather’s pizza every time we go back to Seattle. We order the taco pizza…

… and every time, Scott and I see who will ingest the most taco pizza without blowing ingredients all over the general Covington area.

Then he beats my ass handedly at air hockey.

Anyway, today, we picked them up and started a new tradition. Up in Seattle, they don’t have In-&-Out burgers. For people that know what that is, enough said. For those that don’t, they are possibly the best hamburgers on the face of the planet. But not like Fudruckers-quality. More like greasy and glutinous good.

It has a really simple menu. You want a burger? You want fries? You want something to drink?

They don’t branch out much and stick to what they know: unapologetic indulgence.

What some people don’t know is that they have a secret menu and if you are in the know, you can ask for stuff like a double-double (double meat and double cheese) but since I only order the basic, I am not privy to the full extent of the artery-clogging secret menu.

We took Scott and crew and because they have human taste buds, they obviously loved it. I think it’s just another entry in the column of “Why we must move to San Diego” for them.

We then hit a Starbucks to complete the welcome wagon and then everyone assumed their roles at the end of the night.

The little ones went to bed. I went to the computer. Carrie, Kristine, and Steph tucked their legs underneath them on the couch and clucked into the night. Scott and Alex played video games until they fainted.

Free Advice for Today: “Wipe the sticky honey jar before putting it back on the shelf.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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Not Always How It Seems

Friday, July 6th, 2007

Friday

Quote of the Day: “The key to being a good manager is keeping the people who hate me away from those who are still undecided.”

- Casey Stengel

I sold my Garmin GPS today. Good old Craig’s List.

I had got a couple of nibbles for it but I delayed pursuing it because… I don’t know, just had better things to do I guess.

So I finally got serious and answered some emails and convinced some guy to buy the thing for a negotiated price that was less than what I wanted but more than what I was enjoying as the gadget was collecting dust in my computer room.

He wanted to know if I could drop it off and if we could meet somewhere near downtown. I agreed to meet him at his house which was somewhere in Pacific Beach today on my way home from work. I really didn’t want to get stuck in Friday traffic in an already-congested area but I had little choice.

I called him as I got near and he gave me terminal directions to get to his house. But I kept having to call him back because I’d miss a turn and pretty soon it was just him giving me constant directions until finally I ended up at his house (after burning many of my cell minutes).

I have the worst gaydar known to man but this guy seemed to be a little effeminate on the phone. Add that to the perception I had of PB and I was not too thrilled about spending much time at this guy’s house.

When I got in, he ran upstairs to get his money and I looked around. The house seemed…well-decorated.

There were pics of him and what seemed like his sister and other family members and I just put it all out of my mind, just wanting to get the money and be on my way. He had told me he wanted it for his bike when he takes long rides which told me nothing.

When he came back down, he gave me the cash and I complimented him on his house. He then tells me it’s really his fiance’s and she had it before they met.

So I felt like an idiot and slunk out of there.

And hit traffic.

But I had a wad of dough for my troubles.

Free Advice for Today: “When a friend or loved one becomes ill, remember hope and positive thinking are strong medicines.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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Homecoming: Like a Shower After Camping

Thursday, July 5th, 2007

Thursday

Quote of the Day: “If there are no stupid questions, then what kind of questions do stupid people ask? Do they get smart just in time to ask questions?”

- Scott Adams

You know what the BEST thing is about camping?

Coming home and enjoying all the stuff you have to do without while camping.

I mean, really, how good does a shower feel after you have been camping even just for 2 days? Like … well, there is no analogy without it sounding REALLY dirty and usually I would say “Like a shower after camping” so I’m at a loss here.

The ride back from the camping site was very long. It seemed life forever and it was almost silly how much even the “civilization” of the interior of the car excited me. And how giddy I was to get home.

What’s funny is where my military training creeps into my off duty behavior. All I could think about when I got home was “My weapon, my gear, myself.”

Since I didn’t bring a weapon except a small ax (in fact, I don’t even own a firearm but that’s another blog), I was left to concentrate of getting all our stuff unloaded and put away before I climbed into the Pod of Joy I call “The Shower.”

For those of you that jumped on the innuendo of “my weapon,” shame on you. Get a grip on your…never mind, I’ll stop while I’m behind….DAMN!

We got home, put everything away, I showered, and took a nap. Then I ate and spent a few hours on the computer reading blogs, news, and writing some posts.

I have seen the dork and he is me.

It’s good to be home.

Free Advice for Today: “Buy ladders, extension cords, and garden hoses longer than you think you’ll need.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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Happy Birthday America

Wednesday, July 4th, 2007

Wednesday

Quote of the Day: “I was walking down the street wearing glasses when the prescription ran out.”

- Steven Wright

What did I do for the 4th of July?

Well, let’s see, I fried/sweltered in the woods.

I pretended to be homeless.

I didn’t shower.

I didn’t have access to any electricity thus nothing that needed electricity.

I left a mud pond to go to another body of water I couldn’t swim in.

I napped to escape the heat and debilitating boredom.

And I didn’t even see, hear, or much less set off one single firework.

And I was a putz.

Camping is just GREAT!

But it beats the hell out of an Independence Day many years ago when an old high school buddy convinced me to get up in the middle of the night so we could go fishing.

I hate fishing.

But I went and we shared a can of pork and beans at some point. It must have had food poisoning in it because I came back and was in the fetal position for the rest of the day in my in-law’s house. I finally returned to the Land of the Living at night just in time to watch some of the fireworks but not until after an all-day ab workout.

I did take a few minutes while watching the fire before retiring to my nice comfortable sleeping bag that we celebrate this thing we call “Independence Day” for a reason many of those lighting off those fireworks tend to forget.

We’re free. And we didn’t get that way taking the easy road.

And that freedom is not assured for all time. But as long as there are young men and women willing to raise their hand for crappy pay and crappier treatment most of the time in order to serve and guarantee it, our freedom is all but granted.

On one hand, that Americans take advantage of it means we are providing it to the point where it’s expected. On the other hand, who says we can’t enjoy the freedoms AND be appreciative to those who provide it?

Happy Birthday, America.

Free Advice for Today: “Don’t be a person who says, “Ready, fire, aim.”.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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Playing Homeless

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2007

Tuesday

Quote of the Day: “The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that you’ve got it made.”

- Jean Giraudoux

My family thought it would be a good idea if we took the holiday weekend and went camping.

They obviously do not remember how I get when I go camping.

Furthermore, they decided to subject our friend Paola to “Camping Viper.”

I thought they liked her more than that.

But I get fooled every time. I actually think it will be fun. The lure of “roughing it” has an appeal and I’m like “Hells yeah I want to go camping!”

Then I get out there and say “Damn! Fooled again! The dirty existence. The lack of basic amenities that I take for granted! The dry, dirty hands that crack! Why do I always forget?”

Paola found a place where we could go and take the dogs. It was by a lake and in a wooded area. Sounds like a lot of fun, huh?

It took a couple of hours to get there and we drove the Pilot loaded to the gills with enough stuff to last through a nuclear winter. Paola’s truck was equally full and the thought occurred to me, like it always does when I go camping, why exactly do we load up a representative sample of stuff we need to survive, pack it up, and then go somewhere where we don’t live and then play homeless for a few days and call it camping?

The “lake” was not a lake. It was a big mud pond we not only were not allowed to swim in but wouldn’t want to even if allowed. It looked like chocolate milk except with a lot of bugs hovering along the surface.

When we got there, it was about 453 degrees. In the shade.

Because of my military training, I felt compelled to set up camp before we did anything else like start the abundant fun we were soon to enjoy.

The spot we picked for our tent was relatively flat like a parking lot but a bit harder to pound stakes into. The top ¼ inch was soft as a baby’s butt. Then, in a hideous turn of the analogy, it was diamond-like under that which turned pounding stakes into it into a rousing little game of “Bust the Plastic Stakes.”

Even the few metal stakes we borrowed from Paola bent like warm sticks of butter when we used a HAMMER to help us out.

We did the best we could and got everything situated until everything was in its place, just like my wife insists of having everything. Even in the woods.

Then it was time to….sit on our asses.

Paola’s friend showed up with his dog so we had three adults, two kids, three vehicles, and three dogs.

We made a fire, cooked some food, and the kids wanted marshmallows so Carrie broke out the S’more fixin’s for them. I was not in the mood for S’mores. I was not in the mood to be out in the middle of nowhere playing homeless but I tried my best until the kids wanted to hear scary stories and I retired to the tent to read a bit before hitting the…sleeping bag.

Maybe I should just become one of those people who steadfastly refuses to go camping.

I think that’s a damn good idea.

Free Advice for Today: “Whenever you take something back for an exchange or refund, wear a coat and tie.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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Major Discovery

Monday, July 2nd, 2007

Monday

Quote of the Day: “I am prepared to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter.”

- Sir Winston Churchill

Got some news today.

I’m probably going to be promoted to Major on August 1st instead of September.

You know what this means?

That my two-year clock will start ticking a month early.

And at this time next month, I will have oak leaves on my collar.

I’ll start from the beginning.

When a person is in the promotion zone, they put out a list of everyone in that fiscal year that is going to be promoted. But they can’t promote everyone at once so they put the whole list out there and then every month, they say “OK, from here to here, go ahead, pin it on.”

On that monthly list, they also project what numbers will be promoted the following month. These are only projections subject to change but they hardly ever do and if they do, usually for the better so more people get promoted.

So the list came out for July and the projection of August covered my number. So unless the list fluctuates by like 25 (unheard of), I will make it next month.

I’m gonna be a Major.

Next month.

Man, all those Marines over the years that thought I was a complete tool … what would they make of this?

Grose made MAJOR? Really? That guy was such a tool. Now he’s gonna be a Major Tool!”

That’s right you bastards. Eat it.

Oh, I guess I should be a little more mature about this…

(sing-songy) I’m gonna be a Ma-Jor, I’m gonna be a Ma-Jor….

Free Advice for Today: “Don’t stop the parade to pick up a dime.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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