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Thursday, January 31st, 2008

Quote of the Day: “The end of the human race will be that it will eventually die of civilization.”

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ever since my grandmother’s funeral, I have been in closer contact with my extended family.

And this makes me very proud.

I am half Mexican on my mother’s side. Her mother, my beloved Grandmother who recently passed, was one of 13 children born to Philip and Guadalupe Terronez.

I have received a few pictures recently of my Great Grandfather and even though I only met him a few times and he didn’t speak much English, I have a deep pride to call him my aptly titled Great Grandfather. (Proper capitalization be damned, he was always be “Great Grandfather.”)

There is so much I don’t know about this man but what I do know is that he came to the United States from Mexico in 1935, legally.

I know he applied for and got his citizenship in 1939.

And he had 13 children he raised by picking vegetables and working on the railroad. All of the children except one lived to adulthood.

I also know my Grandmother called him “Daddy” until the day she died.

I know I was fortunate enough to get a five-generation picture with him, my grandmother, my Aunt (my mother was not present), myself, and my son Alex. Alex will not remember but he is forever privileged to have had the attention of his Great-Great Grandfather one time in his life.

Great Grandpa was pretty old then but I like to think he at least knew Alex was of his line.

I am the great grandson of Philip Terronez and that fills me with immense pride.

Free Advice for Today: “Remember that the best relationship is one where your love for each other is greater than your need for each other.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.



Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

Quote of the Day: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

- John Lennon

Did you ever hear the saying you can’t please all of the people all of the time but you sure can piss them all off at once?

That’s been me lately but it’s been unintentional.

Today, was not what I would put into the “successful” column.

You see, I gave a presentation to some high-level foreign dignitaries and I pretty much made a damn fool out of myself.

The other day, higher called up and asked if I would be willing to give the Command Brief to some visiting foreign officers (Commandant-level). The Command Brief is just a canned brief about the Depot that the PAO Staff Sergeant usually gives but since these were such high-ranking foreigners, they wanted an Officer to do the brief and the actual PAO was not available.

Sure, I had nothing on my calendar.

A couple of days before, I met with the Staff Sergeant and he showed me the brief and told me just to read it “Presidential style” which means just read the damn thing and look up every once in awhile to make eye contact.

I took the binder and read it a couple of times that day just to get familiar with it.

The day before the brief I took the time to go to the CG’s conference room and actually went through all the moves to get the presentation displayed. I familiarized myself with the computer, the projector, logged into the system with my ID card, popped in the CD, and made sure everything was going to work the next day.

I also presented the material out loud twice to an audience of chairs.

This morning, I went over it again. I asked everyone involved if there was anything I should know about customs, courtesies, or idiosyncrasies I should know about the dignitaries. No one had anything past common sense.

I felt I was ready and even showed up an hour early to make sure I was set up. I even remembered to bring water since I was going to be doing a lot of reading.

The first thing that went haywire was that I found out there were two other briefs coming after mine and the one right after mine was going to cover the bulk of mine. The other Major there and I made the decision to cut out the slides from mine that his Colonel was going to cover so I wouldn’t present it and steal all his thunder, not to mention repetitiveness.

We got all that straightened out right before they all came in and when they did, the Chief of Staff (2nd in command of the entire Depot) made a bee-line to me and told me that they were using an interpreter; that I was to read a sentence or two before letting the translator do her thing, then continue.

I started my brief by reading one sentence and the translator started talking when I paused. I foolishly started the next sentence and everyone looked at me like I had lost my mind. I got the hint and stopped.

But my second mistake was worse. I took this to mean that the interpreter could only interpret a sentence at a time.

Now I was faced with breaking up my presentation ON THE FLY and trying to sound good a sentence at a time and finding a logical break point.

The result was that it sounded like I was reading “Green Eggs and Ham” a sentence at a time.

I was canned, choppy, and slow. It took forever as I struggled, alternately succeeding in finding a logical break point and failing miserably.

After I was done, I was pretty much embarrassed but the full stench of my presentation was not clear to me until the moments that came next.

The next speaker was a Colonel who had been with this group all day. He was “in the know” of how to use the interpreter so when he gave his presentation, it was light years ahead of mine not only because it was his “bread and butter” as it were, but he knew something I didn’t.

He started speaking, to my unfolding horror, in COMPLETE PARAGRAPHS!!!!!

He effortlessly presented like a public speaker should and the interpreter never missed a beat.

I stood on the wall thinking…

“Oh. My. God. She CAN translate entire paragraphs which means my sentence-at-a-time travesty was bordering on moronic.”

This was not good.

The third speaker, a Captain, was even more impressive with his presentation. With a booming voice speaking confidently about his own area of expertise, he didn’t even have notes as he spouted off paragraphs between translations.

I wanted to crawl under a rock.

After I was done with my pitiful part, I was standing along the wall and in my peripheral vision, I saw movement and when I turned to look, two of the non-English-speaking assistants were coming at me gesturing. I was momentarily confused but then they parted and the General was coming right at me with his hand cupped, obviously wanting to shake my hand and give me a coin.

In hindsight, I assume this was done purely through pity.

The whole group was shuttled away and I was left to wonder just what everyone thought as I gathered my things and left.

Oh well, back to my normal duties…

Free Advice for Today: “Learn to say ‘I love you’ in French, Italian, and Swedish.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.


Tough News

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

Quote of the Day: “A fellow who is always declaring he’s no fool usually has his suspicions.”

- Wilson Mizner


I got this email today:

Dear Runners and Friends,

I have some exciting news to share with you! The 2008 San Diego 100 mile Endurance Run will be held on JUNE 7, 2008. We are moving the run date to reduce the risk of cancellation that we have faced every year since the inception of this event in 2001. Additionally, I’m please to share with you that Scott Mills will be joining me as Co-Director for the run this year. Scott is an outstanding runner, very experienced event coordinator, and fantastic guy. I’m sure that his contributions to the run will help us to put on a quality and fun event for all. The run will held on the revised course that we followed last year in the Cuyamaca Mountains. I’ll will be updating the website as ASAP to provide you with more information. I hope to seen you all in June!!!!!

OK, this is just some of the sucktastic aspects of this:

1. I only have a little over 4 months to prepare for a race I thought I had a year to get ready for (and the only one I ever DNF’ed).

2. It was warm last year in Oct. In June, it will be HOT!

3. I am in charge of setting up, coordinating, and managing the security for the finish line of the San Diego Rock & Roll Marathon because it ends on the Recruit Depot. This involves months of planning, stressing, and complete attention. The date: June 1. So what are the chances I will have time to even shit much less train for a 100-mile ultra leading up to this?

4. Moving the date meant they moved it from fiscal year 2009 back into fiscal year 2008 and I’ve already used up all my reimbursement slots for fiscal year 2008.

I have not even considered until just now that to qualify for this, I have to finish the Bishop 50-mile ultra which is only 3 weeks prior. If I stumble, I basically DNF both races.

This is so stereotypic ultra-running: take something hard and make it even more difficult. Just pile it on, double it, and make it logically impossible.

I am now having to consider, for the first time ever, if this is simply a bridge too far or if I have to suck it right the eff up.

And I have a vendetta. It beat me last year. It BEAT ME! The score is 0-1. I know I can’t live with that for the rest of my life. I can’t let it win. I can not let that defeat stand. I can not stay off the horse for fear of climbing back on.

Tough days, folks. Tough days.

Free Advice for Today: “Write the date and the names of non-family members on the backs of all photos as soon as you get them from the developer.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.


Jott and GrandCentral

Monday, January 28th, 2008

Quote of the Day: “Write a wise saying and your name will live forever.”

- Unknown

I’ve come to realize there are about a trillion neat little services that are available on the Internet and many of them are free. This always freaks me out because I feel I should be paying for them and more people should now about them.

Also, I know I could, at any time, get sucked into any one of them and research all their features for hours upon hours.

So I give to you, two I recently ran across while reading productivity blogs.

The first one is called Jott.

With this service, you can call a special number all your own from your cell and send email. It transcribes what you say and then you can send it. You can even send it to yourself as a reminder and you will get whatever you said sent to your inbox. Plus, if you set up groups, you can send one email to all of them, kind of like a transmission service.

I just thought this was cool when you are out and about or in your car and you think of something you want to remember. You can send it to your email really quick.

There is other stuff it does but that’s what got my undies all damp. It only costs me cell minutes but on weekends, I get free calls so I can send myself (or any of you I chose) email willy-nilly. So if you get something from Jott, don’t spam it. It’s just me jabbering at you.

The second thing is not as useful but I signed up for it anyway. It’s called GrandCentral and you get a phone number that you can give out and it will forward whoever calls to whatever phone you choose. I guess if you wanted to forward all your calls to your cell it could be useful.

I like the web button option the best though. See it there on the right?

The way it works is that if you freaks want to call me, you click on that button.

Now of course I don’t want the freakosphere calling me at all hours so the way it works is that you freaks punch in YOUR number and then YOUR phone will ring. When you pick up, you will hear dialing which is to my phone.

That’s if I chose to enable that and since I don’t want my phone ringing off the hook, I chose just to let it go to voicemail.

So try it out. Give me a call. Leave me a message.

OK, two cool services. I’ve had my geeky metrosexual moment for the day.

Free Advice for Today: “Write a letter of encouragement to the President — even if he didnt get your vote.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.


Slippers and Headsets

Sunday, January 27th, 2008

Quote of the Day: “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

- Isaac Newton

I had two things I wanted as a result of my organization frenzy so I went to the mall with Carrie.

OK, I got about 10,000 things I uncovered that I want but I had two things I was specifically hunting for today and I chose unwisely since chances were slim that 50% of my list would not be at the average shopping mall.

Here are the two items…drumroll, please…

1. New slippers
2. Bluetooth headset with boom microphone for my Razr

Let me explain. We’ll start with the slippers.

I wear slippers. I love slippers. If I’m in my house, I’m wearing slippers unless I’m in bed or in the shower. I will likely request to be buried in slippers when I kick.

Years ago, I invested in Brookstone uber-expensive, space-age foam slippers that cost a ridiculous amount. They lasted until a friend’s puggle decided I had worn them way too long and took the initiative to relieve me of them. Or at least puppy-mouthful amounts here and there.

I got some more but then I started to get sick of the open heel and they kept slipping off, especially when I ran up the stairs, grab-assing with Buster.

I decided I needed ones with heels so it was on the list.

We hit JC Penney and they had a sad little assortment. The style I really liked only had a smaller size so unless I wanted to Cinderella’s-sister some toes, I was gonna have to settle for the next best style.

They were on sale but it was on one of those racks that has a RANGE of prices and then tells you what the sale RANGE is. Of course the tag on the slippers I had in my hand did not match the sign so the best I could hope for is the lowest range (~$14) but I figured that was for the ugly-ass pink disaster in size 13.

When they rang us up, the price came to $6.

You gotta be kidding me. This is SO Carrie’s luck.

2. Bluetooth headset with boom microphone for my Razr.

This is the one I thought I had no chance at since it was better suited for a Best Buy, CompUSA, Circuit City, or even WalMart.

Turns out what I wanted was actually vintage half-a-decade-ago.

It seemed to make sense to me: a headset I could put around my head and a little boom mic I could adjust. Kinda Janet Jackson, if you can picture it.

I wanted this one because I got one of those Lt Uhura earpieces and it always feels like it’s about to fall out of my ear.

When I tried to explain what I wanted to the high-pressure cellphone kiosk punk, he looked at me like I had parachute pants on and a Flock of Seagulls scaredo.

He showed up all his $60-$160 thumbnails you put in your ear but I wasn’t about to pay that much for a slightly smaller version of what I have.

If I couldn’t have the Garth Brooks/Madonna/Early-Britney headset, I’d deal with the Borg implant sticking out the side of my head.

At least I got a Starbucks out of the deal.

Free Advice for Today: “Give children toys that are powered by their imagination, not by batteries.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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She Could Be A Survivor

Saturday, January 26th, 2008

Quote of the Day: “The easiest way for your children to learn about money is for you not to have any.”

- Katharine Whitehorn

You might be seeing my wife on the next Survivor series.

She tried out today by showing up at 0330 for the auditions which started promptly at 0800.

What was I doing? Well, since Paola volunteered to go with my lovely wife to sit out in the cold, I stayed in a warm bed and hogged the entire California king.

Actually, I was supposed to run but when the morning came, I bagged it because I am an undisciplined jackass.

At about 0230, I heard Carrie bumping around getting ready and determined that in some strange way, this made up for the years of me bumping around each morning while she slept soundly in the bed while my bloodshot eyes coveted her being allowed to wallow in sleep while I got ready for a day at work.

I will take credit for talking my wife into getting there at zero-dark-thirty. Her plan was to show up at 0600 but I pointed out that they only take the first 400 applicants and by 0600, she would have no chance to be among those 400. I figured people were going to start camping out the night before.

She showed up at 0330 and there were 250 people in line.

Her and Paola waited in line, …

…slept, froze, chatted, got hit on, got juggled over, ….

… and after many hours of waiting, Carrie got her chance to make the 2-minute video.

What’s next?

Well, she will find out in March if they want to move her to the next portion of the interview process. If she gets through that, there is likely another set of interviews.

If she is chosen, only then will she find out where she will be spending 3 months filming. Even if she gets voted off, I will not know anything. I guess they keep people totally sequestered even if they get voted off by putting them up in local accommodations (which I assume beat the hell out of the accommodations up to that point).

I don’t know, I don’t watch the show. But if she gets far enough, one of the rewards is flying a loved one in so I will know how she is doing at that point. If I don’t hear anything, I know she was voted off. If I get the call, looks like I’ll be taking a trip.

Bottom line is that I might be a single dad for 3 months this summer but if lighting strikes, my wonderful wife might be bringing home a million dollar check.

Then you all can stand by.

Do I really think she has a shot.

I told her it’s just like Charlie looking for the Golden Ticket:

CHARLIE: I’ve got the same chance as anybody else, haven’t I?

GRANDPA JOE: You’ve got more, Charlie, because you want it
more. Go on, open it.

To be honest, I think my wife would have a better than average shot to get on the show and do well. In fact, she would do much better than me who would get voted off right away due to my lack of patience, disdain of “games,” my inability to suffer fools, my lack of diplomacy, my moodiness, my behavior when hungry and/or sleep deprived, and my lack in internal-to-external filter.

Other than that, I’d do great!

When we discussed adjectives to put on the application (it asked for three), I came up with many ideas but struggled to find the exact one I was looking for.

She is anti-procrastination.

She is industrious.

She is intuitive.

She is completely selfless.

She in adaptable.

She is tough.

She is very likable but not flirtatious.

She is confident but not cocky.

She is thoughtful of others.

She will not take or stand by and witness any form of abuse.

She can concentrate at the task at hand and focus on mission-accomplishment.

She is addicted to chewing ice so this might be her downfall.

There is so much more to her that makes her a good fit for the show and to tell you the truth, I don’t think I would be concerned for her while watching the show. I have confidence that she could handle anything thrown her way and I think the only way she could get voted off was as a potential threat to the more devious.

Me, I’ll keep training to run 135 miles uphill through Death Valley in the summer. It’s easier and more suited to my temperament.

Free Advice for Today: “Read the Sunday New York Times to keep informed.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.


You Forgot WHAT?

Friday, January 25th, 2008

Quote of the Day: “The time not to become a father is eighteen years before a war.”

- E. B. White

Maybe the funniest thing in a long time:

You know that book I’m reading? The one about productivity and getting my life organized?

I forgot it at work today.

Let me reiterate: I left my productivity/organization book at work.

Not THAT’S funny.

So what do I do about this?

Well, I didn’t want to go all weekend without it so I had two choices. I could go back to work or buy another one.

Carrie went to Mongolian BBQ with her friend Paola at the Miramar O-Club (from the famed Top Gun scenes) where I’m sure she was hit on, ogled, and generally approached inappropriately by horny, cocky pilots while I hung back at home to take Steph to her basketball practice.

When I dropped her off, I entertained the idea of driving all the way back in to work to get the book. That would give me just enough time to get there, get the book, and get back to pick her up but then I went with “Eff, that, I’m going to Borders.”

I figured I could buy the book and then give it away to a Sergeant at work who showed some interest in the system. The $15 would be worth it if I can turn on even one person to this life-changing system.

I got to Borders and found the only copy they had in paperback.

I hate paperbacks.

But it would do for the weekend.

I spent the rest of the night on my continuing quest to organize my home office.

Friday night and I’m in my office having the time of my life getting organized.

I’ve pity-killed friends with two shots to the chest and one to the head for lesser behavior.

Free Advice for Today: “Street musicians are a treasure. Stop for a moment and listen; then leave a small donation.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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Spirit of the Marathon

Thursday, January 24th, 2008

Quote of the Day: “All men are frauds. The only difference between them is that some admit it. I myself deny it.”

- H. L. Mencken

Tonight I took Carrie to see “Spirit of the Marathon,” a documentary of the Chicago marathon a few years ago.

For some reason, someone decided it was a good idea to just show this film ONCE on ONE night, albeit at many different theaters. For months I’ve heard about the showing and made sure that it was on my calendar to see since, how many times does a documentary come out about marathoning?

I asked Carrie to get tickets in the middle of the day just in case. I was not going to miss this.

It turns out that even the theater was caught off guard because they scheduled to show it in a small theater that sat only 200 people. When they realized it was going to blow way past that, they moved it to a bigger theater that sat 500.

And it was still packed.

I guess non-runners such as those that make these decisions do not quite understand the insanity/obsession/camaraderie of us distance runners. If you have ever been exposed to a group of us, you’ll see we are quite and OCD group of people.

Hmmm, people who run 26.2 miles for fun being obsessive? Wow, that’s a counter-intuitive revelation, huh?

Powers-that-be probably asked themselves, “How many of these nuts could there be?”

Well, they found out.

But think about it, if you take any “niche” group and offer them a film about their obsession for only one showing on one night, you can fill a theater with just about anything.

I bet a movie about Neo-14th Century Cross-Dressing Hippopotamus enthusiasts would draw a crowd.

OK, maybe I went too far with that analogy so let’s go with… say… Dungeon and Dragons enthusiasts. You KNOW that would fill a theater with buck-teeth, B.O., and virgins hopped up on Pepsi and Pop Tarts.

Now consider we are in Southern California where the runners population is pretty high and it wouldn’t be a far mental stretch to realize you were going to sell out the theater. I mean, you could play it once a night for a week and probably sell it out.

Here is my view on the movie: it’s only competition is Running on the Sun

… which is a classic about the Badwater race so it scores high because it’s about one of my passions; running.

As a documentary, not bad. It follows six runners ranging from the elite Kenyan to the divorced mom. All levels are shadowed.

What I liked about it was that it showed the competitive side of the elite where it’s their job to run 5-minute miles (sick!) as well as the personal journey of the “every day” person who is challenging a perceived insurmountable goal: running 26.2 whole miles….in a stretch.

That’s the part I was most interested in since I spent uncountable hours writing about this and trying to capture it. To see it up on the big screen was a treat and I could identify a lot with what was shown.

The movie did drag in places and a non-runner would have probably labeled it as a tad boring. I kind of expected more tugging at heart strings and I fully expected to shed a few tears myself. Not that there weren’t touching moments here and there but just not as many as I expected.

BTW, at the end of the movie it mentioned that because of popular demand, they were going to be showing it again on February 21st so if you missed it, Google it and check it out next month.

But I thought it curious that they put this announcement at the end of the movie…as part of the movie which tells me they intended to do this from the get-go, popular reaction to the initial showing or no.

Free Advice for Today: “Read Leadership Is an Art by Max DePree (Dell, 1989).”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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Tickle Me Elmorganized

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

Quote of the Day: “The intelligent man finds almost everything ridiculous, the sensible man hardly anything.”

- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Today I made a tickler file.

For those in the know, you know what I’m talking about and are likely saying, really, been an Adjutant and never set one up and didn’t even know exactly what this was until now?

Everyone else is imagining some fetish tomfoolery.

To all of you, you disgust me.

Maybe you’ve heard of the term “43 folders?”

Here is what it is: a tickler file is a system of 43 folders you maintain as a reminder system. You put it together by labeling 31 folders, one for each day of the month. Then you label 12 more, one for each month of the year.

You put these in day-order and then month-order behind that (1-31 then January-December).

With me so far?

At first, I thought it pretty much ended here. I thought that when you got something you wanted to be reminded of (a bill, a race, something you had to do that day), you just threw it (the bill, a piece of scrap paper, whatever reminds you) in the appropriate day file for that month. If you had something for future months, you just threw it in that “month” folder.

Then every morning, you looked in that day’s folder and BOOM, you had your reminder.

When the next month rolled around, you distributed the contents of the month folder into the appropriate day-files and you were set for that month.

I gotta say, this is a great system because you can be confident that whatever you are trying to remember to do is taken care of. You don’t have to be nervous that you forgot something. Dump it in the tickler file and then it’s off your mind until your mind is “tickled” when the day arrives.

Cool, huh?

There is a slight variation that David Allen shows in his book I’m reading, Getting Things Done. Hell, it might be the universal way but it was different that I first thought.

He advocates a rotating system. The front file is always the next day and in the morning, when you empty it into your inbox, you put the empty file in the back BEHIND yesterday’s file but BEFORE the monthly files. The exception is the next month’s folder which is after folder 31 (standing post to represent the next month).

Here is what it looks like:

Using this system, after you are done using, we’ll say day 28 folder on Jan 28th, it rotates and suddenly becomes day 28 for the next month, February.

It occurred to me that in my lame-ass mistaken system, once you used a day folder, it was done for an entire month and if you had something for the next month, you had to just dump it in the month folder and distribute it on the 1st.

But in this, the real system I guess, once you use a folder, it can instantly be used for the NEXT month. In effect, you have TWO months worth of daily folders (unless the next month if for a day that you have used yet in the current month.)

If this sounds complicated, it’s not.

And it’s well worth it.

If for anything, killing a couple of hours at work.

Here is how Wikipedia explains it:

A tickler file is a system for organizing data in such a way that future tasks are recorded and reviewed, routinely, essentially providing a way to send a reminder to oneself in the future, “tickling” one’s memory.

Tickler files are often used by sales representatives and professional offices in medicine, law and accounting.

Free Advice for Today: “Let your representatives in Washington know how you feel. Call (202)225-3121 for the House and (202)224-3121 for the Senate. An operator will connect you to the right office.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.


Perfection To Me, Is Quite Essential

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008

Quote of the Day: “Military intelligence is a contradiction in terms.”

- Groucho Marx

Let me outline near perfection:

You have a hard day at work.

You get home and the smell of fresh Mexican food is wafting through the house.

Your cousin comes over.

A good friend comes over.

You all gorge and watch American Idol, San Diego version.

Now to “Viper” it up a little…

Work: self-imposed hard day since I’m doing at work what I’ve been doing at home, in between unit-created emergencies as a result of working in a self-licking ice cream cone.

Mexican food: taco and tostadas, deep-fried will cost me in the diet department but I DON’T CARE. DO YOU HEAR ME, I DON’T CARE!

Cousin: taking a pic of your college-age cousin using your 13-year-old daughter’s bed while she is away: priceless.

The Good Friend: brought her bitch. No, literally. She brought her new Shiba Inu who will be finding another home soon because the little bitch cannot get along with Koo-Koo who, as you remember, has his own issues…

(I made reference to “bitch” nearly 600 times during the night, because I could.)

American Idol: I will nightmare for years over this.

For the love of God in heaven and all that is sacred in this wretched world…

Free Advice for Today: “When concluding a business deal and the other person suggests working out the details later, say, ‘I understand, but I would like to settle the entire matter right now.’ Don’t move from the table until you do.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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