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Trailrunning, a Kindled Spirit, and Haj Podge

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

Quote of the Day: “A man is not idle because he is absorbed in thought. There is a visible labor and there is an invisible labor.”

- Victor Hugo

You know what’s cool about being unemployed?

Sleeping until 9:00 AM!

OK, I know that is downright disgusting for a military man (or any man, really) and on top of that, a few blogs ago I talked about the 5:00 AM wake up call to go work out but I will blame this one squarely on my wife. There is no way in 10 hells she would wake up at that hour to work out so if I want to work out with her (which I do), I have to wait until she wakes up and we get ready and go.

Just because that is ending up being around 10ish is not my fault. I know but I suffer through it somehow.

I still get up at about 7:00 AM to take my lovely daughter to school but I return and can’t peel off the sad assortment of clothes, which would embarrass her painfully if anyone were to actually take a gander at what Steph’s dad is wearing on the morning school drive, fast enough and crawl back into bed for another couple of hours of sleep.

So we get up, I brush the teeth, splash some water on my face, throw on some gym clothes, suck down some scroatmeal (blech!), and head to the gym.

Today, I decided to do a full half hour on the elliptical (I am trying to work on endurance but still take it easy because I got a marathon on Sunday) and then I got it in my head that I should accomplish the little monthly challenges set up at my gym.

Now I am sure the “challenges” are for the desperate housewives and the cast of all of the Cocoon movies that seem to be in the gym mid-morning on weekdays…

… so I am not feeling all that superior for nailing this month’s challenge which was …

“Jump rope for two minutes straight.”

Do you know how hard it is to time yourself jump-roping? Especially if you don’t happen to have a watch on when you work out.

I decided to go with the method of pausing a song with two minutes left, set up, hit play, and skip until the song ended so, with Fergie finishing up educating me about how “Fergilicious” she actually is, I made it to the end of the song.

Yes, it was Fergilicious.


Can we just concentrate on the fact that I jumped for two minutes straight?


Didn’t think so.

All I have to say is go get a jump rope and try it. It may not sound difficult and seeing that little girls can jump for 2 DAYS nonstop, as an adult, it ain’t any kinds of easy, folks.

You are still thinking about the Fergilicious thing, aren’t you?


After all that, I got on the treadmill and did 5 minutes walking, 5 minutes of running, and rotated that schedule for about 35 minutes.

With so much time on the elliptical and the treadmill, I decided I needed a distraction so I brought my brand new issue of Trailrunner Magazine!!!

But Jason, don’t you subscribe to about 4 different magazines and have YEARS of back issues you haven’t read yet? And Carrie let you subscribe to another one?

Well, um, yeah, I kind of didn’t tell her and what do you know, an issue showed up in the mail the other day.

But come on, I am in to ultrarunning, or at least interested in reading about it.

(If I haven’t ultraran since May of 2007, I can still claim to be an ultrarunner, right?)

Anyway, the tagline for the magazine is “One Dirty Magazine.” How can you NOT love that?

So other than the general ultrarunning theme, I love the attitude of the magazine and the advertisements inside which are sometimes better than the articles. This one for a running shoe from caught my eye and I found myself laughing out loud while ellipticalizing…


(I had no idea what this meant and almost skipped reading the rest of the ad. But I did and it said…)

Running is in our blood. But don’t take our word for it. Just flip through the latest American Journal of Human Genetics and you’ll learn that the genes like ACTN2 and R577X are linked to elite athletic performance. But in a day and age where running gets confused with jogging and medals are dished out merely for participating, we fear these genes may go dormant, or worse yet, disappear completely. So please, do your part to make sure running doesn’t get lost in the genetic shuffle. Take another runner by the hand and do what comes naturally. That is, other than running. Breed like an animal. Run like and animal.

I almost choked on my water when I read the last line and linked it to the title of the ad.

I think I’m going to really like this magazine.

The other epiphany I had while reading the magazine today is that it finally happened.


- I have run 21 marathons.

- I have run four 50-mile ultramarathons.

- I have attempted a 100 mile race because it sounded fun.

- I have been on a team that ran 140 miles over 2 days.

- I have ambitions to run the Badwater, a 135-mile uphill torture-fest through Death Valley in summer.

- Twice I have run back to back marathons in consecutive weeks and then an ultra two weeks after that.

But I FINALLY read about a race I have no interest at all in even attempting.

I didn’t think it was possible because up to this point, the more difficult, crazy, and bizarre a race sounded, the more it interested me. I recognize this trait as a kindred spirit (or flawed genetic make-up) that both draws me to the sport and makes “normal” people scratch their head because it is precisely the opposite reaction they would have to such arduous quests.

But today, I found one that is completely out of the question.

You see, I don’t do cold.

I can do heat and the prospect of running in 140-degree heat does not scare me (and yes, I have been to the Badwater course so I know what the heat feels like. Yes, it is a dry heat but it will suck the moisture from your (insert any assorted body part here, the more vulgar, the better).

But cold?

No way.

So when I saw this ad, I said to myself, “Jason, there you go. A complete off-limits race that holds absolutely no appeal whatsoever.”

The description of this race had the affect on me as any of the other races I am fascinated with has on a “normal” person.

In other words, WTF?

I think the final knockout blow was the poem which served as the ad itself. Here is what it looked like:

Arrowhead 135 mile Winter Ultra Marathon
For and ultra cool experience!
February 1st – 3rd, 2010

Days and nights of 30 below,
Frostbit my nose and can’t feel my toe,
Timberwolf paw prints dot the snow,
Am I still on the trail or where do I go?

Since I left I-Falls I wonder why,
I must be crazy to even try,
I’m determined to finish,
But I won’t lie,
The Arrowhead Trail seems tougher than I.

135 miles of Arrowhead snow,
Frostbitten fingers and blistered toe.
Timberwolves howl and owl eyes glow;
Hallucination or Northern Lights show?

Frostbit Falls to Vermilion sky;
Afraid of the dark? So why even try?
Fearless will finish; fearful will cry.
Only the toughest will dare apply.

As though it makes up for what they just described, they lamely add…

Coolest handmade trophy for all finishers.

Application deadline December 1, 2009.

Again, I don’t do cold so cook me all you want but snow is not something I will be putting myself through in this lifetime. I’ll stick to the scorching desert, thank you very much.

OK, on to other subjects: My Kindle.

(not my hand)

As most of you know, I have and love my Kindle 2 from Amazon. I got it as a retirement gift from my extended family and I have been enjoying not only the novelty of having the great piece of technology but also being able to read anything I want just about anywhere I want, which, I guess is the whole idea.

So you can imagine my geek-fuelled excitement when I got an email yesterday that they had updated the software and it would be sending the update across the airwaves in the near future.

But was that fast enough for me?

Of course not.

I turned on the wireless capability (which I keep off to extend the battery life to a staggering 2 weeks!) and nothing happened.

No update.


Upon further investigation, Amazon snuck into the verbiage some vague silliness about how the update would be rolled out to the users over few weeks.

After dismissing my initial plans involving Molotov cocktails and Amazon HQ, I found where it gave the option of pulling down the download from Amazon and then manually doing the update by connecting the Kindle to the computer via the USB.

It was like a geek’s wet dream except without the Star Trek, Star Wars, and Meagan Fox references.

I followed the directions and before you knew it, I was sporting version 2.3 and that’s not the geek-boner scale of 1 to 3.

It means, among other claims, I had longer battery life (a few more days with wireless on than before) and a native PDF capability (I can now read a PDF right from the gadget, I guess).

I can also rotate the text to any orientation by going in the settings and choosing what I wanted (not by just rotating the gadget like an iPhone). Seems like a lot of work for the flippage but I have the capability now.

The only real benny I can see me using is the longer battery life but hey, it was a free update. And it WAS an update so I know Amazon is kicking out improvements of some kind.

Plus, I have the latest Kindle software. I mean, come on. Time to go update my resume!!!

All this Kindle-talk got my reading juices flowing (how gross does THAT sound?) and I hopped over to Amazon to see what I could find.

What did I find?

A big fat serving of shit pie.

It seems there is a tissy going on over the Kindle offerings. Some of the high-profile new-release books are being released in hardback but delayed in the Kindle version.

Books such as Stephen King’s new release Under the Dome can be preordered as a Kindle book but you can’t get it until December 24th, although you can buy the hardcover right now.





To me, here is what they are saying:

“OK, yes, you shuffled out over $300 for this reader on the promise that new releases were going to be under 10 bucks but we are not going to let you have that new release until it is NOT a new release any more. But you can buy the hardback right now.”

What possible logic could they be using?

You want me to preorder so I can get it in a month?

Why don’t you preorder laying your lips on my ass, Amazon?

To tell the truth, I would be a lot more outraged if I didn’t have a library of unread books shelved right behind me as I type this but still. I should be able to download Stephen King’s new book right now so it can wallow on my Kindle for months before I even touch it.

Like all my blog entries, this one is running long but I have to talk about a story I read today. It can be filed under “Jason is still recovering from a year in Saudi Arabia…”

It seems that Jeddah is getting one of their two annual flood-causing downpours and since they rarely get them, there is no infrastructure to handle the massive amounts of standing water. Combine that with the fact that a single drop of liquid on the roads there causes the average Saudi to lose his shit and bunch up traffic for miles and you get a recipe for traffic disaster. I mean, more than usual of course.

But that’s not the story. The story is that it is Haj which means that thousands of Muslims pour into the area to make their religious pilgrimage to Mecca.

- Thousands of foreigners
- Torrential downpour
- Flooding

The news says that the numbers are down this year.

It also says another factor is the H1N1 virus.

I laughed myself silly over all this because:

1. I am not there
2. On a GOOD day, that whole area would get a AFUTWTS* rating
3. With all the extra dollops of SUCK poured on top, they wish they could be upgraded to AFU!
4. I guess good weather and no viruses being passed around is a prerequisite for Hajing. I don’t want to hear any more about religious piety and sacrifice, gents. It rained and you took your football home. Or should I say “pigskin?”
5. I am not there

One last note about the situation in the KingDumb:

I have been told that the servicemen there will no longer be able to get their monthly ration of flat-nosed beef (pork) from Riyadh because the drivers who transport it from the capital on the weekly commissary run are refusing to transport it.

See #’s 1 and 5 above.

*All Fucked Up Ten Ways Till Sunday

F.M.L. of the Day: “Today, I was walking into the building I hoped to work in someday with my resume, ready to be interviewed. As I walked through the doors I had to sneeze, so lifted my hands and sneezed a huge bloody booger right in the middle of the cover page. Turns out future employers don’t like that. FML.”


Pinching Off Another Loaf Of My Comings And Goings

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

Quote of the Day: “He who asks is a fool for five minutes, but he who does not ask remains a fool forever.”

- Chinese Proverb

Ah, another one week (+) blog break. Why do you people even come back?

So, a lot of things happening but let’s start at a high level…

I’m still unemployed. This has a lot to do with the fact that, much to my wife’s chagrin, I am not looking all that hard. Is this because I am lazy?

Let me get back to on that.

Actually, in my defense, let me point out a few things…

1. I am not drawing any money from the state.

2. We are fine financially with my retirement and Carrie’s part time job.

3. I worked hard for 22 years so can I be faulted for a couple (few?) months off?

4. I figure the economy will rebound after the holiday season along with the job market when companies will have new fiscal money to squander, er, use for new-hires.

Full disclosure: I wrote the above a week ago and am now just going to continue on that unpublished train of thought…

See, here’s the deal, this is stressing me out.

But Jason, how can you be stressed out without a job?

That is a very good question…..

That stresses me out.

I guess I should have learned a year-long lesson that boils down to this: when you have nothing to do, you don’t feel like doing anything. I spent a year with a high percentage of any given day to my disposal and what did I do?


If you know me, I am a project kind of guy (no, not as in “living in the projects” or “a project Carrie just can’t seem to perfect”).

What I mean is at any one time, I have more projects on the burner than I could possibly keep up with. I still think I can have it all, get it all done, and I’m constantly fascinated with new projects.

The problem comes when I get any kind of progress on them and then KERPOW, I get distracted with another bright idea project.

(note to future employers, this seems to manifest only in personal projects. With official work, I seem to be able to see projects to the end if someone is actually waiting for the finished product. Hey maybe I should treat my personal projects as work projects … I’ll look into that project …. Soon.)

OK, so what has been happening lately? I think I have hit that point where the entire club is on fire and the panicked patrons have wedged a human wall at the exit.

My projects are the patrons.

Or put another way, I have project constipation. They are all packed in there but can’t manage to break out in a loud, rancid explosion of progress.

Now that’s just gross.

I still have a considerable amount of projects I identified BEFORE I left for Saudi and after a year of nearly zero distractions, most of them are still on my list. I ask myself, when are you ever going to have time like that to do what you want to do?

The answer is simple. I won’t.

Or so I thought until I got back here to Washington and found myself without employment. While I don’t have as much time as I did in Saudi, I have more than I will have when I get a job and that will be the precise time I look back and say “Why did you squander all that time, you constipated night club!” (I tend to mix my metaphors in hindsight).

And thus, the stress. It comes down to KNOWING that I am wasting time and not getting as much done as I should. In fact, I find myself in a state of getting NOTHING done trying to figure out what I am GOING to get done.

Quite frustrating.

Let me wrap this one up… like always, I vow to unplug the constipation, get my act together, rededicate myself to the “Getting Things Done” mentality, and stop wasting hour after hour with very little to show for it.

OK, now, let me throw some quick hits to get everyone somewhat caught up:

- I got Sting’s new Christmas (what are we calling it now, CDs? Albums? .. I don’t know, I have them in mp3 so who knows). I like Sting but at first brush, it’s kind of sucky.

- I got Norah Jones new …. songs. They do not suck. Norah could sing Nickelback songs and sound gorgeous which really says something since Nickelback sounds like Satan blowing squirrels on fire out of his ass.

- I guess I don’t have to threaten Adam Lambert to stay away from my daughter or he’ll be the next American Paraplegic like I did last year. Seems I will have to keep him away from my son. I don’t care if you do look like a bitch, you shouldn’t be macking on other bitch-looking dudes on TV. I’m just sayin’.

- Microsoft is giving away Office 2010 but it is beta and I don’t have the stones to put it on my computer.

- I have not made the leap to Windows 7 only because I just reformatted my hard drive and don’t want to go through that shit again for a few more months, thank you very much.

- My Seahawks have been consistently bitch-slapped week after week but I have a fireplace, nothing to do on Sundays, and a thick Seattle Times so Sundays are not ruined, no thanks to the She-Hawks.

- My Huskies have been the opening act to the “Emerald City Bitch-Slapping Fest” each week. This Saturday is the Apple Cup and all I can say is that at least WSU is 1-10 so we are 3 times as good as they are with a 3-7 record. Let’s just forgo the smack-talk, my WSU brethren. We both suck like a black holes.

- I am running the Seattle Marathon on Sunday. When people ask me what I’ve been doing, the only thing I really have to fall back on is to say “Training for the Seattle Marathon.” That’s all fine and dandy but soon that excuse will be over and when I get a 5-hour finish, I will have some ‘splainin’ to do.

(I had an epiphany today when I tried to find the source of my gloominess as of late: I think I’m stressed about this race. Looking back, I turn into Tyrannosaurus Ass before every marathon so this shouldn’t be much of a surprise.)

- In preparation for the marathon, I foolishly tackled a 23 mile run last Sunday because, … I’m an idiot. I needed at least one long run in and just because I waited until the week before the race to get the ONLY distance run in doesn’t mean I’m a complete imbecile.

OK, it does.


- I finished the first season of 24 on DVD. I am not ashamed to say I WANTED them to kill the wife by the end. And if they could have donated a bullet or two to his daughter’s skull, I would have cheered. Loudly. And now in season 2, they brought the daughter back and she is just as annoyingly fucktarded as in season one. AND, they introduced two more idiot blondes that you want to see ventilated along with an annoying little blond girl who needs a couple of air-holes herself. What is it with these people?

- I am ¾ of the way through the first season of Heroes. I am mostly enjoying it but it gets slow and drawn out sometimes. I just realized Sylar is young Spock.

- I am finished with season one of The Office and the first two seasons of “30 Rock.”

- I have not devolved to daytime soaps or Oprah yet so say a little prayer for me.

- Movies I’ve seen lately include Christmas Carol, The Hangover, and we rented Black Sheep because I thought it was funny and the kids needed to see it. It wasn’t and they didn’t. I realized I have never actually seen it before and thought that since Tommy Boy was so funny, this should also be. I was dead wrong.

- I am still using my Kindle and am currently reading “The Little Book” because my mom suggested it and she knows I love time travel stories. But it makes me uncomfortable when they talk about sex in the book and I know I’m reading the same words as my mom. I’m sure that will be therapy fodder some day.

- I stopped my Kindle subscription to the Seattle Times because I was getting too far behind reading them. But I subscribed to the daily paper delivered to my house so no gain overall. I like that I can see pictures with stories now and get comics every day. But I had to use my birthday money to pay for the subscription or my wife would have strangled me in my sleep.

- I was ridiculed today by an old friend because I list Sarah McLachlan, Dido, and Enya as favorite music on my Facebook. Well, you look like Charles Barkley so who’s laughing now?

OK, well, that’s about all I got. Yet another blog vomit for your digestive pleasure.

And as always, I promise that I will be back tomorrow to pinch off another loaf of my comings and goings for you to shake your head at and ask “Why?”

F.M.L. of the Day: “Today, I watched Paranormal Activity which is known to be the scariest film ever. After the film, I went to brush my teeth and out of the corner of my eye I saw the bathroom door closing by itself. I jumped out of my skin and stabbed myself in the eye with my toothbrush. It was just my dog. FML.”


Parade of Heroes

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

Quote of the Day: “The best ideas come as jokes. Make your thinking as funny as possible.”

- David M. Ogilvy

Today, for the second day in a row, I awoke at 5:00 AM to go work out at 24 Hour Fitness.

It almost didn’t happen. The lazy voice was workin’ it and almost won. I had to SLAM my feet on the floor and lumber toward the bathroom as my mind was mutinying.

Why am I waking up at a God-awful hour when I don’t have employment and could get the workout in at any point of the day?

A couple of reasons:

1. Getting up before anyone else gives a psychological advantage of accomplishing something no one else would be dumb disciplined enough to do.

2. I’m done with my first workout by 7:00 AM.

3. I can get another workout in during the afternoon in preparation for the upcoming marathon (not that this has actually happened yet)

4. I like driving down the main street with absolutely no other cars in sight.

5. I’m an idiot.

All kidding aside, I think it has to do with what us marathoners tend to gravitate toward: doing the hard thing because it is hard to do. (See #5 above)

I also think that left unchecked, I would soon find myself sleeping in until 9:00 or 10:00 and then getting to the gym around noon which would be very unmotivating. Then I would be done by 2:00 PM and then by the time I cleaned up and showered, it would be 3:00 PM. Then after eating and a nap, it would start to get dark and then I would hate myself for wasting the day.

So I am two for two doing this schedule.

Since I hurt my leg, I have not been able to get the long miles in so I have depended on some cross-training. While this is good, it is not ideal but at least it’s something.

Here is my routine so far:

10 minutes on the elliptical
10 minutes on the stationary bike
10 minutes on the treadmill (10 min/mil pace)
Push ups

Today I even threw in some jump roping between sets just to make things fun. And by “fun” I mean “looking like a complete moron trying to do for a few minutes what little girls can do for hours.”

Today is Veteran’s Day and to celebrate, I took my son and daughter to the University of Washington where they were dedicating a memorial for the Medal of Honor recipients that have graduated the school. There were a total of 8 but 6 are dead and one must have backed down at the last minute because only one of them was at the ceremony.

I had to wake up both of my kids to get them going because the ceremony started at the ungodly hour of 10:00 AM. The kids suffer greatly at my hand.

I had Alex read the newspaper article aloud about the ceremony on the way to the campus and I was thrilled that parking was free because after all, I am a serious cheapskate. I had a $20 bill in my pocket ready to pay for campus parking though. I mean, this IS Medal of Honor recipients after all.

Once we got to the campus and found the free parking (YES!), the first order of business was to find a bathroom. With my new found motivation to get up early and work out, that involves drinking a lot of water during the workout and a lot of coffee after the workout.

Combined with my acorn-sized bladder it means I have to go every 10 minutes, it seems. Ah, the joys and dignity of intense exercise.

We were a bit early so I was able to show my kids some of the gorgeous campus even though they had been there before. But as babies and toddlers, their powers of retention were a bit lacking.

So I played tour guide as we made our way to the ceremony.

The general plan was parade at 10:00, ceremony at 10:30 and I figured we would be out of there by 11:00.

Not so much.

I am not complaining but I felt a little bad for the kids. The parade started a half hour late and the ceremony had many speakers which stretched out the proceedings until 1:00 PM!

It got nippy standing there (although thank God it did not rain) and of course I had to go to the bathroom starting at about 10:15.

When the parade started, they had many ROTC and JROTC groups as well as VFWs and groups of all kinds of veterans.

I mentioned that only one of the UW alumni Medal of Honor recipients was there but what I didn’t know until they rolled by in golf carts was there was about 10 recipients in attendance. I got a lump in my throat just seeing these heroes from as far back as World War II!!!!

Also in attendance was the Governor of Washington State, the President of UW, the Vice Chief of the Army, various Congressmen, and even Jean Enersen from the news who it seems that I’ve been watching her as a news anchor for as long as I can remember.

After the ceremony, we made it up to the front to see the monument up close and even got to bump elbows with a couple of the Medal of Honor recipients.

That was about the time I started kicking myself for forgetting my Medal of Honor book that has the stories of every recipient. I could have had them sign their pages.

Oh well, I’ll catch them the next time because a gathering of a dozen Medal of Honor recipients happens ALL THE TIME.

*** sigh ***

We left and I had the sense that we saw something very special, meaningful, and fitting for a Veteran’s Day. Although I made my kids stand out in the cold for a couple of hours longer than we all expected, it was important that they saw the gravity of the ceremony and all the people in attendance. Every service and every ROTC was represented and there were many, many vets in the audience paying their respects and it made my heart swell to see it.

Then, of course, there were the Medal of Honor recipients. I explained to my kids that there is no truer definition of “HERO” than these men. They are bona fide, real life, no-questions-asked HEROES, proven in the ultimate gesture of sacrifice: willing to give their own life to save others with the CERTAINTY that they were going to die.

Whether you wore the cloth of the Nation or not, you have to ask yourself if you of of such caliber. I spent 22 years as an Active Duty Marine and while I would like to think I would perform as gallantly as these men did in the same situation, I really don’t know. No one knows until they are faced with the ultimate decision.

But these men know.

And they were not found wanting.

They proved it.

For that, I cannot find the adequate words to express my feelings of gratitude, hero-worship, and honor to even shake their hands.

After we left, we were all hungry so I took the kids to a place my bro-in-law always raves about: Jimmy Johns. I am a sub sandwich junkie so odds were, I would have a new obsession and the bonus was, it’s just down the road.

The final verdict… YUM!

I give it a high 8 if not a low 9 on the “I’d shove one of these things in my gullet any day of the week” scale.

I will leave you with a conversation I had with my teenage daughter:

Me: Do you have shoes?

Teenage Daughter: I have shoes on.

Me: Can you go check the mail.

Teenage Daughter: Where’s the key?

Teenage Daughter: This key?

(I hold it up, she grabs it without a word and goes and checks the mail and returns as I stand by the door..)

Teenage Daughter: Why did you have the stand by the door the whole time and watch me?

Me: Because I love you.

Teenage Daughter: I can check the mail on my own.

(Walks away to her computer without another word)

She is just like her mother in attitude and just like me in expressing herself.

F.M.L. of the Day: “Today, for my birthday, my friends and family gave me: A Wii Fit, a free year at the gym and a book of diet recipes. They didn’t consult with each other. I’ve asked for “something corresponding to me”. FML.”


Happy 234th Birthday, MARINES!

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

Quote of the Day: “An executive is a person who always decides; sometimes he decides correctly, but he always decides.”

- John H. Patterson

Today is the 234th birthday of the United States Marine Corps and since:

1. I’m lazy
2. My friend and mentor, Shane Maxey (Marine Sergeant, former DI, and red big potato-head) wrote an outstanding message
3. I am fully unashamed to steal it and save myself some mental energy (see #1), here it is:

Today is the 234th Marine Corps Birthday! I spent a good many years being one of the “FEW THE PROUD, THE MARINES.” Now being retired and looking back on my years of service I truly understand what it means when people say; Once a Marine always a Marine. Even though my body is beat up and I am older there is not a day …that goes by that I am not proud of all my accomplishments as a Marine Sergeant. Daily, I remember those Marines I served with or trained with and I am proud to have had the opportunity to stand side by side the finest warriors the Modern World has ever known. Watching the events taking place today, I have never been more proud of the young men of our Nation who choose to defend our country and become MARINES. So to all the Marines out there young and old alike: OOOOOOORRRRAAAAHHHHH DEVIL DOGS, HAPPY BIRTHDAY! SEMPER FI!

I could not say it better so I won’t try.

Now that I’m not living near a base, the Marine Corps birthday is not as prominent, although I did see a reader board along a lonely stretch of Maple Valley highway wishing Marines a happy birthday. Ooh-rah, No Bull Tavern, ooh-rah!

What does seem to be a big deal around here is Veteran’s Day which I have no complaint about whatsoever. I had a discussion with my bro-in-law about this and I think that because of Iraq and Afghanistan, people are more aware and more patriotic.

I still don’t like the plethora of “Veteran’s Day Sales” that have been blaring out of the radio because quite frankly, I don’t see what your crapfest inventory has to do with the sacrifices of men and women who serve the Armed Forces but that doesn’t seem to stop the advertisers from hopping on that blood-stained wagon of opportunity.

An exception to this is places like Applebees who are offering a free meal to any Vet which I think is humbling and right the EFF on!!!! Way to go Applebees!

In the last two days, I have been asked to attend 4 events to celebrate Veterans and I’ve been able to make 3 of them.

Yesterday, I drove to Redmond (hi, Microsoft, got any work that I could possibly…) where my two nephews’ school was having an assembly. I was kind of surprised that there was a General, a Colonel, A Lieutenant Colonel, me, and a few other Vets in attendance. I was very honored to stand as “Uncle Jason the Marine” and recognize AJ and Matthew as my kin.

Today, I attended two ceremonies in Maple Valley where another set of nephew/niece were having school assemblies.

The ceremonies were the same ceremony, just an hour apart for the different grades and since I had family in each class, I sat through both of the events.

The kids sang songs and at one point, the microphone was passed around to all the Vets and we were to tell the audience who we were and where we had served.

At one point in the ceremony, they played all of the service songs and when the Marines’ Hymn started, I, of course, shot up and stood at attention. I almost felt bad for the other Vets because our song was the last to be played and when I stood, I was the only serviceman to do so and it was a bit obvious that the other services had not stood for their songs.

My heart swelled as I saw an elderly Marine, barely able to get to his feet, push himself up and stand stooped as the Hymn played. He was not cued to do so because I was behind him and there is no way he could have seen me.

So there we stood, two Marines standing in honor of our Hymn, one of us barely able to get to his feet but doing so and standing a bit stopped but ever so proud.

I love the Marine Corps.

I was dressed in a suit and this was a little drama that unfolded in the last week.

To go way back, I had been invited to attend these events last year when I was in Saudi Arabia and I had promised my niece and nephews that I would absolutely attend their ceremonies next year when I go back. It was a promise that took a year to fulfill and I was so happy to keep my word.

Back when I made the promise, I didn’t think it through and only recently did I realize that I was not active duty and therefore wearing a uniform would be a problem.

The rules are, I rate to wear my uniforms still but I have to maintain the regulations if I do so. That would mean that I would have to get a haircut.

It’s not that I’ve become attached to my hair. Quite the contrary, it’s driving my batshit. But while trying to get a job in the corporate world, a military cut is not a good idea (although the idea is that when I DO finally get a job, the hair comes off!)

The other factor at work here is that I would have to either wear my Blues, my Alphas, or my Bravos.

Not only are all three of those options high on the discomfort suck-meter but I seriously don’t think I could do them justice. IF I could find all of the proper accouterments, which would take many hours of work (they are spread throughout the still-unpacked areas of my house), I don’t know how they would fit. I have not become a fatbody (yet) but the last time I wore any three of those particular uniforms was a few YEARS ago and I just would not feel comfortable facing the fact that I am not at the fighting weight I was a few years back.

Another argument that comes dangerously close to justification is that I think it is healthy to embrace the fact that I am not an active duty Marine any longer and the proper way to embrace that is to accept the suit.

So I put on the black suit I had tailor-made in Saudi, pinned the Marine and American flag lapel pin, and showed up looking like the countless “Retired Marines” I’ve seen over the years at formal ceremonies.

And in the three events I attended, I was the only Retiree to don a suit.

Speaking of suits, I want to end this entry with a mention of Gunnery Sergeant Nick Popaditch. Some of you might know him as “The Cigar Marine” who pulled down the Saddass Insane statue in Baghdad and was blown to pieces a year later after getting hit in the head with a ROCKET (even though he lost his eye, he did not lose his life or even CONCIOUSNESS!!!)

I am pleased/proud/eager to announce this:

I am not a political person but if there were ever a man that could improve the Halls of Congress, I can think of no better. Go do what you can!

Happy birthday Gunny Pop and to the rest of the Marines.

Semper Fidelis!

F.M.L. of the Day: “Today, I started the day at my local Starbucks. I was greeted with smiles from everyone I made eye contact with and left the store feeling really good about myself. I got home and checked myself out in the mirror, only to realize I had cut myself shaving and my neck was covered in dried blood. FML.”