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Let’s Make It 250 Miles Even

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

Quote of the Day: “I am not one of those who in expressing opinions confine themselves to facts.”

- Mark Twain

The other day I ran into a guy at the Tacoma Marathon expo who I have been following on Facebook.

To tell the truth, I can’t exactly remember how that connection was made, as is the case with many Facebook connections, but I digress.

The point is, he runs, like, far. Like me. Well, not like me because he is probably faster and more consistent but the fact remains, he runs a lot.

We got to meet face-to-face and he told me two interesting things:

1. He is gearing up for a 100 mile run
2. He is organizing a 50 mile relay called Rainier To Ruston

So you KNOW what happened next…..

Yeah, I want to do both.

After my wife’s eyes made a complete 360 cycle, rolling up and all the way around (how do you do that and doesn’t that hurt?), I made contact with him pre-marathon:

Here is what I wrote him:

It was good talking to you yesterday.

I have been putting this off too long and I don’t think AFTER tomorrow’s run, I will be all that motivated to ask these questions so let me do it now.

I am thinking about signing up for the R2R, single 50 mile ultra.

Is the military discount good for retirees?

Is there a Marathon Maniac discount?

Now if I can get the wife onboard, I might be able to pull off a month of heroic training and at least survive it.

He got back to me and told me there was both a military discount AND a Marathon Maniac discount so of course, I had to run it. I mean, come on!

(Marathon Maniacs are a group I belong to that run ridiculous amounts of marathons. I “got in” by virtue of running 2 marathons in 2 weeks way back in 2002 and then again in 2003. 25 marathons and 4 ultras and I got in at the LOWEST qualifying level!)

Now, for those of you that know me, you know I can be thorough … and can bug the holy living shit out of someone until I get all the answers. So in response to his kindness, I hit Rob up with the following RFIs:

Well, I think I have more blood than lactic acid running through my veins as of today.

Hey, a couple of quick questions about R2R…

The military discount is $5. Is the Maniac discount the same?

In your opinion, should I apply for the Masters or Military Division. Not that it matters, I’m not going to be competitive in any category unless I’m the only one running.

Oh, and is there a max cut off time?

I have run four 50 mile runs (all of them the Bishop High Sierra) and my times have been the following:

13:33:09
13:48:06
13:22:57
12:36:13

I was sweating the 14 hour cutoff on all those except the last one!

My ever-patient friend had this to say…

Yes, the Maniac discount is the same. There is not a cutoff and we will stay out there as long as you need us. I’m not sure it matters on the category. I haven’t really looked at either categories to see who is signed up. I know there are some of both.

(He will regret the “no cutoff” policy, I guarantee it. I hope he brings camping gear.)

Shortly after this email exchange, I signed up for my 5th ultra.

May God have mercy on my soul.

Oh, I forgot to add, the 100 mile race was off the table. They were full and it was too late to sign up. Probably a good thing since I like my ability to walk and, you know, eat solids.

Free Advice for Today: “Don’t sit when ladies are standing.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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Cinco de Mayo 2010

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

Quote of the Day: “If there is no God, who pops up the next Kleenex?”

- Art Hoppe

It all started like this:

Our Mormon friends (yes, we have only one set, those crazy Mormons…) have a Saint Patrick’s Day party every year.

Let me repeat that just in case you missed it …. Our MORMON friends have a SAINT PATRICK’S DAY PARTY every year.

Now, as funny a concept as a non-drinking clan of Mormons celebrating what is traditionally a drunk-fest holiday, I liked the idea of having an annual party. I wanted to pick a day so that every year, people would say, “Hey, isn’t the Grose’s party coming up? We had better start hydrating now.”

But what holiday to pick…

Why, Cinco de Mayo, of course. What other pseudo-official made-up-by-Corona holiday would a half-Mexican pick?

So in honor of all of my ancestors (whom I likely insulted and disgraced using the picture above), I started the 1st Annual Grose Cinco de Mayo Party!!

Or should it be the “Grose 1st Annual Cinco de Mayo Party!!” No, no, no, it’s not Grose as in “gross” and it’s not the 1st Cinco de Mayo.

Anyway, the first step was to get the OK from the missus since she would likely be responsible for most of the cleaning, cooking, decorating, and general hostessing while I swill Corona like it was my job. (And by “most,” I mean “ALL.”)

After I got permission (and asked her to make homemade tacos, tamales, sopa fideo, and tostadas), I set out on my next task: whom to invite.

This was easy: everyone on my Facebook, of course.

This didn’t sit too well with the wife.

Seems that inviting 400 people was a bit of a faux pas.

But to be fair, I didn’t really expect people like my Greek/Indian friends from Saudi Arabia to make a showing (although for beer, I wouldn’t put it past the Greek Marina!)

I figured we would get a fair amount but not like, feeding the masses.

So I set up the event in Facebook and discovered this was not as straightforward as I thought.

What time do we want to hold this?

Open event?

Closed event?

What should we put in “More info?”

I went with

“What better way to celebrate Cinco De Mayo than with a bunch of Mexicans? (OK, maybe I’m only half and the kids are 1/4 but you get the idea!)

Come, bring your favorite Mexican-themed beverage, and we’ll provide the food.)

Finally, it was time to put in a picture so I Googled “Dirty Mexicans” and after violently throwing up for about an hour, I discovered not only to NEVER Google such a phrase for any reason, but also a picture that rode the line between funny and downright racist (see pic at the top of this post).

One person (the Mormon, of course) responded:

“We are SO AT this Party! One of our favorite holidays- and by FAR our favorite food!
BTW – Love the profile pic of you and Chris! :)
(Chris is my brother.)

Another friend who I haven’t seen since high school wrote: “¡Diviértense mucho!” which elicited this response from me: “What? Come on, we had Spanish together like a quarter of a century ago. I can barely order off the Taco Bell menu these days. With the help of Google Translate, I come up with “Join us for much” which makes no sense.”

One high school friend RSVPed she couldn’t come which bought her this response from me: “…you are missing out because I’m gonna try to get the two guys in the picture to come and celebrate your birthday with us!”

Then we had the flip-flopper who could come, couldn’t come, could come, … you get the idea. She finally said she could which elicited this out of me:

“See you there. Bring a swarthy Mexican if you have one.”

I got PC coming out my ass, people!

I am happy to report the party was a success. We filled everyone with Mexican food and beer, no one was killed or arrested, and my the end, I bore a striking resemblance to the guy on the right above.

And without further adieu, here are the pictures:


Alex, my caveman boy cub, comes out of the Matrix to snag some Mexican food.


Maddie, my niece, gives me the look she always gives me (although I AM her favorite uncle, you know.)


Scott (brother-in-law) and Lyle (father-in-law) dig into some comida de Mexicana, care of my wonderful wife.


I love this pic because Al is caught with guac all over her face. Either that or she just sneezed, can’t remember. Notice she is not reaching for a napkin, just a fork to keep diggin’ into the food she is obviously enjoying.


Our buddy Phil partakes in the time-tested requirement on Cinco de Mayo: Corona, baby!


Um, no more Corona for you, Scott.


Alex trying to stay out of the pictures. Nice try, Man-Cub but in the end … FAIL!


Ayden! You are about to go on your mission and you are caught dipping into the Corona bucket? OK, but don’t tell your folks, they’ll kill me!


Sam, my brother’s lab, seems unimpressed with the whole Cinco de Mayo theme but was legitimately excited that so many people were around. He drank 14 Coronas.


Lyle (father-in-law), Scott (brother-in-law) and Becky (sister-in-law): three mostly German-Bohemians enjoying some Mexican goodness.


Phil again, talking Carrie’s ear off. Get a few beers in that guy and he’ll never shut up!


Someone decided to turn the tables on me and catch me mid-face-stuffing. I don’t look guilty AT ALL!!

Free Advice for Today: “Never hire someone you wouldn’t invite home for dinner.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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The Voice of Terror

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

Quote of the Day: “Words ought to be a little wild for they are the assaults of thought on the unthinking.”

- John Maynard Keynes

Long time readers of this blog know a few things:

1. I take on too much
2. I don’t give up on anything
3. I can procrastinate for YEARS
4. I am in a constant state of falling behind
5. I have eternal optimism that I will catch up

Such is the reality I live in but every once in awhile, I will check off something from my “To-Do” list that is really a “Overdue” list.

A good friend of mine, Tuffy, sent me a movie short he made and asked my opinion on it. So naturally, I waited months while the DVD sat there by my DVD player collecting dust and mocking me daily.

Well, today was the day. I watched it. And here is what I thought:

Tuffy,

First, let me apologize for waiting so long. I am finally getting on top of my to do list. It’s amazing how much there is to do even when you don’t have a job.

Anyway, I watched your film today and here are my thoughts:

I am not a big fan of horror and suspense in general, except for something like “The Shining” which is what your film reminded me of (that’s a compliment). Anything with a little kid acting psycho is just about the scariest shit on the planet. Here are some specifics:

The music: since this was a period piece, it fit well. I think the best compliment is that I didn’t even notice it that much which meant it added to the mood and feel of the film without overtaking it. It was apparent when it STOPPED for the girl to make a dramatic line. So kudos on the music.

The fear-factor: again, not a big fan of being startled and didn’t like some of the more prominent ways the film elicited “jumps.” I think a couple of times, it was simply too loud (ghostly screaming, loud musical crescendo). My advice is to pull back on that a little. I thought one of the scariest moments was when the girl walked into the back room and stood there facing the camera with only her dark silhouette visible, low spooky music building the mood.

I liked the quick, bloody, staccato shot of her attack though. It reminded me of the movie “The Ring” which may be the scariest film that ever existed.

The storyline: Two things about the storyline… in the end, I had this feeling: “I bet that was a great read but it didn’t come across as well on film.” Second, I think the acting added to this drawback. I see a story like this: a simple straightforward spooky-plot of a little girl driven to perform horrendous deeds from a supernatural power of questionable origin (was it inside her, was it the bellboy, was it some demon?).

Now, as written, it is a staple to scary films and since it has been done before, transforming it from the page to film requires two things to make it work well: a rich look and feel (which I think you nailed) and strong performances from the actors to compensate for a story the audience is familiar with. I am not saying the acting was horrible but it didn’t stand out strong enough to carry the film based solely on actor performance.

I did like the twist at the end that the little girl smiled and skipped away. The smile at the camera indicates she knows what she did. The skipping indicated that either she DIDN’T (acting as any child going about her business would) OR, combined with the “I know what I did” smile, meant that she is either evil enough to not care and will carry on as though nothing is amiss or that she is possessed and the demon is purposely behaving like any child and thus will use her innocent veneer to do more evil.

The acting: like I said, not horrible but not stellar. I must take into account that the dialogue fit an era that was more dramatic by today’s standards. From watching old movies, I know that it was an accurate interaction from a mother to a daughter (in the movies, at least) but not how a mother would interact with a daughter these days. There were good scenes and some a little heavy in the drama department. But again, this was indicative of this era.

Ironically, the girl did a better job being “out of character” than she did when she was being an average child.

The very last interaction of the girl and the bellboy was a little hokey, staring at each other and slowly turning in unison to look at the mother. I understand why he did it (indicating she needs to take care of the mother) but it just missed a bit and looked awkward. His creepy smile was a nice touch that brought back the scene, though.

The Look and Feel: I liked this the best. The music with the look of the cinematography created a realistic period piece. The hotel did look like something out of the 40s and the lighting fit well with the dark woods and the old-time environment.

So, there is my input. I was really impressed that this was your first outing. It “looked” like a Hollywood film (quality of the film, costumes, sets, cinematography, staging, camera angles, pans, etc.). Definitely worthy of continuing the project. The drawbacks can easily be improved upon with various storylines and cast.

Oh, and if you continue, I want a part! Ha!

– Jason

Free Advice for Today: “Remove your sunglasses when you talk to someone.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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The Return of the Gorilla

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

Quote of the Day: “Good judgment comes from experience, and often experience comes from bad judgment.”

- Rita Mae Brown

Today will go down in the History of Jason as Bizarro Day # infinity.

I got an email from a gorilla.

Not just any gorilla. That wouldn’t have been as bizarre as the truth.

It was from Bonilla The Gorilla.

Follow the kink for a detailed explanation but here is the short of it.

When a Marine Corps Recruit gets to bootcamp, he deals with three distinct sets of Drill Instructors.

1. Receiving 1
2. Receiving 2
3. Permanent

The “Receiving 1” are the ones that welcome you off the bus in the dead of night. These are the Shock Troops who climb on the bus and put the Ever Lovin’ Fear of God Himself right straight up you ass.

After a Fright Night of shock and awe, getting the initial processing done, you are handed over to the “Receiving 2” set who start to teach you some of the basics of Drill, finish up the initial paperwork, and prep you for your Permanent DIs. They have you for a couple of days, all the while convincing you that the Permanent DIs will eat you all alive and you aren’t even near ready to face the Monsters.

Then, of course, there are your Permanent DIs who will have you for the remaining time of 13 weeks.

Bonilla the Gorrilla (His name was actually Sergeant Bonilla) was part of the second set and his sole reason to exist was to induce the thickest layer of stress on us by yelling, throwing stuff, and generally being an escaped lunatic whirlwind of violence and volume.

After a few days, we were dropped to our Permanent DIs and Bonilla the Gorilla ceased to exist in our pitiful world.

(He did pop up toward the end of bootcamp but you will have to go to the link for that story.)

So in my personal history, Bonilla the Gorilla was this epic figure that inspired fear at the mere memory.

You can imagine how it felt then to receive an email from him today.

And a Facebook friend request.

I had corresponded with him before so the bombshell wasn’t as big as if I had never heard of him again but the Facebook thing was new.

I was struck that this creature of fear and utter terror was now my “friend” on Facebook. That is bizarre beyond description.

And then to see he had children. And grandchildren. And the pictures showed him proudly holding his grandchildren and doting over them almost like he was human.

“RUN AWAY, CHILD, THAT’S BONILLA THE GORILLA! HE WILL EAT YOUR HEAD!!!!

And what does a former Drill Instructor end up doing after his Marine career comes to an end?

He is a driver’s test instructor.

B.
I.
Z.
A.
R.
R.
E.

(Yet, oddly fitting.)

Even more fitting, he got bored with that and became a police officer serving on a Marine Base.

Yep, that’s about right.

Free Advice for Today: “Deadlines are important. Meet them.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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Tacoma City Marathon “Race” Report

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

Quote of the Day: “There are three musts that hold us back: I must do well. You must treat me well. And the world must be easy.”

- Albert Ellis

I thought to myself, “It’s Tacoma so it should be flat.”

Sometimes my ignorance of geography is stunning.

Today was my first race of 2010 and I came busting in with a whimper! I would like to report that I crushed this course but I have used all my lying points for this month so I must admit that this course pretty much crushed ME into little whimpering gravel dust particles.

I guess I should have trained.

You would think that this being my 24th marathon that I would:

1. Enjoy it
2. Know that I should train
3. Break the 5-hour mark
4. Be excited to come back next year

I don’t mean to be Debbie Downer so I will point out that the weather was perfect.

Just like always, I got my stuff ready the night before and it was all laid out so all I had to do was wake up, stumble to the bathroom, and don my battle gear.

Carrie and I drove to Tacoma and unlike some of the marathons I have run, the parking situation was not right out of an insane murderer’s worst nightmare. We actually got a parking spot a hundred yards from the start line which was right in the middle of the city.

Carrie gave me a kiss and stayed in the car until the race started and hundreds of runners passed her by. Her thought was most likely “What I bunch of freaks. I’m warm and relaxed in my Pilot.”

She had a good point. It was nice running weather but a bit chilly to begin with until the old body got warmed up.

The first part of the race was relatively flat and went through a lot of business areas. I had the fleeting thought that I had a chance at a good marathon but that lasted about 15 minutes until I realized I was sweating too much, my breathing was off, and my legs felt like lead.

Not the greatest realization to make in the first 20 minutes of a MARATHON.

I got into the closest I would get this day to a “groove” and everything was somewhat manageable until we got into The Park. When I say “The Park,” my mind conjures up the woods in Harry Potter where Voldemort survived on unicorns.

It’s actually called Point Defiance Park and I hit it at about mile 10. Or maybe it hit me.

Whatever the situation, it went like this…


“Hey, there is a park ahead…”
“Oh, how beautiful, this is going to rock…”
“Oh, a hill to start things… OK…”
“Another hill, crap..”
“GOOD LORD HOLY MOTHER OF GOD I WANT TO DIE!!!!!”
“….another….hill….must…find…oxygen…”
“grblgargerblegoo…..”

Things get hazy after that but I just remember a series of rolling hills and false summits. I was reduced to a walk most of those miles and much like my soul, I could feel my sub-5-hour time slip farther and farther away.

By the time I got out of the woods.. (out of the woods, get it? I slay me!), I resembled what some would label as “a retarded three-legged drunk giraffe.”

Except I wasn’t as graceful.

I was like Elvis in his last days; as though I was making my way to a toilet in Graceland.

It was not pretty and I as I got closer to the end, the sweet, sweet bitter end, I realized that I could possibly break 5 hours which, as far as goals go, ranks right up there with not shitting myself. It’s a goal, just not one I want to be reduced to striving for.

So I picked up the pace from “stumble-clomping” to “I need a shitter like no one’s business.”

I did the best I could at the time but the finish line seemed to stretch out farther and farther away, like a bad horror flick.

I kept checking my watch and trying to do the calculation through the haze my reality had become and knew it was going to be close.

I put my head down, made a deal with my legs that if they did a miracle for me I would actually get them ready for the next time we did this. They pretty much told me where to stick my promises and proceeded to cramp up a bit.

OK, so that’s the way it is going to be. Fine. Looks like we’re gonna take a big old gulp of “Bitch-Be-Gone!”

I sprinted the last few hundred yards to the cheers of all the people waiting for loved ones. I always feel cheesy doing this because it is a last sprint and not indicative of the effort I put out during the race, evidenced by the time on the clock. But I do it every time with the overriding thought of “Let’s get this thing OVER!”

Crossing the finish line, I looked at my watch:

5:01:24.

Well, shit.

That was about my only reaction. I was glad it was over and pretty much disappointed in my training and performance this day.

Some races I get near the end and I know it is going to be close so I come to that decision point where I can just glide in or push it to get under a certain time. I don’t think I have ever chosen the glide path and every time I did the push, I made it (most notably, the Shamrock Marathon)

But this was the first time I did my little get-on-your-horse routine and come up short at the end.

I guess that’s what makes the successes sweet. Without failure, success cannot really mean anything.

The bling for this marathon is a killer whale which is ironic because that is how I felt most of the time: whale-like.

I guess they made it that way because there are whales in the Tacoma waters? I don’t know, I didn’t see any. I guess I was too busy watch He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named chomping on unicorn rump-roast.

Stats:

Bib # and fantasy weight for marathoning: 190
Time: 5:01:24
Pace: 11:30
Placing: Pitiful, I’m sure
Gu packets consumed: 7
Bling: jumping whale
Free Michelob ULTRAs consumed afterwards: 1
# of times I cussed Defiance Point: ∞

Free Advice for Today: “Every so often watch Sesame Street.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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Expo-ing Myself

Saturday, May 1st, 2010

Quote of the Day: “We secure our friends not by accepting favors but by doing them.”

- Thucydides

Today, I expo.

Tomorrow, I run.

Am I ready?

Why do people always ask me that.

NO! OK, NO, I am NOT ready.

I don’t know what my problem is lately but I cannot seem to get into the training groove and get the long miles in that I need to run a decent marathon. Plus, the weight gain since I retired doesn’t help.

What happened to my running mojo?

Well, that is the question of the day for tomorrow, not today.

Today, I get to walk around the Tacoma Marathon Expo, wallow in the runner environment, and see all the other runners who are instantly recognizable because they don’t look like me. They are svelte, lanky, graceful creatures decked from head to toe in lycra and breathable synthetics.

I, on the other hand, and a lumbering beast looking for free loot at the expo.

It’s a bad sign when you are winded walking the hills from the parking spot to the expo, right?

By my side is my long-suffering wife who has to walk next to me as we walk the aisles again and again and again. It’s the equivalent of shoe shopping except our roles are reversed. She has to follow as we walk down the same aisles AGAIN, just in case I missed something the first time. As though 10 cents cheaper for a pack of Gu is worth the hours spent comparison shopping for every conceivable running item.

I noticed something though: the tide is turning in the favor of the ladies. Most of the items are aimed toward women and I see this trend happening more and more. Shirts announcing “I run like a girl” and frilly socks fill every aisle of the expo. Sports bras, jewelry, and even just about every flyer for different marathons has a group of smiling ladies gracing the front.

I don’t know, just demographics I guess. I just took notice because for every frilly offering, that is one less thing for my potential shopping binge. I don’t normally buy much (Maybe a box of Gu) but I am still rockin’ running shorts and shirts I’ve had for years. Shoes are covered at places other than expensive expos and I still have plenty of running hats and my trusty running glasses.

But that doesn’t mean I am beyond ogling every gadget they come out with.

Take nipple guards. (Quite a bold, statement, I know.)

You can buy these little donuts that are like little nipple life preservers for some outrageous price.

OR…

You can use Band-Aids like I’ve done for a decade and save yourself a buttload of money.

For those of you not in the know, they prevent the ultra NOT-Happy Face due to chafing…

The rage now are iPod holders. They have those by the ton. I have my own that is practically a solid salt lick by now so while I like looking, I never really consider buying one.

They also have a lot of stickers with witty statements or just the simple “26.2” which I’m sure confuses a bunch of people who see it on my car. These are the same people who ask how long a particular marathon is.

Um, that’s like asking how heavy is that particular 10-lb weight you are holding.

Knee bands? No thanks.

Insoles? Never had a use for them.

A shirt announcing that I run like a girl? Well, THAT would get some laughs but in the end, running is serious business. At least from mile 20 on.

Plus, it would snag on the sports bra I wear.

Free Advice for Today: “Answer the easy questions first.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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Rattlesnakes and Root Beer

Friday, April 30th, 2010

Quote of the Day: “It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one.”

- George Washington

It was a nice April Friday and the kids were in school so the obvious thing to do was to go on a hike with my brother-in-law and his wife.

I felt bad for the kids for about a millisecond before the feeling of playing hooky came over me.

It was just one of those days: the sun was shining, it was a Friday (you know, that “Friday feel”), and everyone I knew was at work or school. Granted, so should I have been but alas, I was out in the sunshine hiking Rattlesnake.

I don’t know if it’s Rattlesnake Canyon, Rattlesnake Path, Rattlesnake Trail, Rattlesnake Butthole, or what. I don’t even know if there were even rattlesnakes around. All I know is that it was an easy, gentle upgrade with overlooks that were really beautiful.

I mean really, check it out:

I forgot what that body of water is called. Rattlesnake Piss? I dunno.

The way this came about was that we got an invite from my wife’s brother and his wife to go on this hike and we thought, great, sounds like a Friday thing to do.

Here is Scott and Kristine with Rattlesnake Piss Lake behind him.

Notice that he is wearing a grey Under Armour shirt, which I have an exact copy of. Good thing I didn’t wear mine, how embarrassing would THAT be? Instead, I went with the all-black motif with the blue running jacket and questionable gay-blue hat.

How that woman can stand there in public next to me with a smile on her face is beyond explanation.

Also note I am wearing what appears to be spandex but let me assure you people, they are running leggings that are looser than Spandex for obvious reasons. I did not want to be in public looking like I was smuggling creamed corn and doorknobs.

The hike went great and afterwards, on the heels of a successful burning of calories, we all decided that the best thing to do was to completely obliterate the progress by going to lunch and since it was nearby, Scott suggested a special treat:

(Notice Scott bringing the root beer. There was an audible CRACK when he removed his hands from the frozen mug handles!)

I have never heard of this place but Scott said it was “da bomb” (he actually used those words. Embarrassing, I know.)

Now, despite the fact that it says “XXX” right on the sign, this was not some perverse sexual modern-day Sodom. That would have likely been cheaper.

OK, I’ll suspend my cheapassedness for a moment. It WAS expensive but this was a treat. It’s not every day you can play Friday hooky, hike a beautiful trail with family, and enjoy what is rumored to be the best root beer and burger joint this side of a lake of rattlesnake piss.

The guy behind the counter, a very chatty Mexican guy who owns it, got out of me that I was retired military (it don’t take much to extract this info, folks) and was all kinds of thankful for my service and proceeded to tell me of his service and every vet he ever knew.

Root beer and burger, please.

No, no, I wasn’t really like that and I really did enjoy talking “shop talk” with people but I was post-hike, very hungry, and trying to forget that the meal for two was dipping into too many high-number digits.

But there was something else I wanted to splurge on….

It was just as decadent as you would expect a strawberry shake would be. I don’t even want to guess the calorie count but I’m sure it was a week’s worth.

Did I enjoy it?

If memory serves right, I think I ate the glass.

Free Advice for Today: “Take the stairs when it’s four flights or less.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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Yes, I Will Take Two More Helpings, Please.

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

Quote of the Day: “Human beings are perhaps never more frightening than when they are convinced beyond doubt that they are right.”

- Laurens Van der Post

I have delved into two more projects which brings my total of unfinished projects to …. too depressing to actually count out.

What are the two latest open loops I’ve opened up?

Playing guitar and A+ certification.

I know what you are saying, those are two subjects about as far away from each other as you can get. But along with being a runner and a bibliophile and a scholar, I figure I want to be a musician of some kind AND feed my geek a bit.

OK, maybe I have illusions of grandeur but I never said I actually excelled at any of these things. I just start them.

So I got my hands on this video class of playing guitar and did the first hour. Believe it or not, I was not jammin’ like a guitar hero after the first hour. In fact, I had sore fingers and did nothing but play along with some scales.

It pretty much sucked.

Now I’ve seen some people who play the guitar who look like they are a few chromosomes short of a full set and yet they play the hell out of the thing. I cannot reconcile that I cannot overcome this with intellect.

I know, different abilities but still, I am convinced that through sheer force of will and intelligence, plus some dedication and practice, practice, practice, I should be able to play.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

The other subject is the A+ certification. I talked about this back on April 2nd.

It is kind of the first step if you want to get into the certification game and with my MASTERS in IT (not to mention my personal involvement in computers since the early 90s!), it should be cake.

Plus, I have discovered that there are terabytes worth of free training online. In fact, the challenge is picking which you want to go with, stick with it, and do the work.

This, I have started but quickly became bored. The funny thing is, I spent hours researching all the FREE online training and spent more time ogling the free offerings but when it came time to pick one and go for it, yeah, lost interest quickly.

So, like so many other things on my plate, my challenge continues. Pick a training package, set up a schedule, DO the scheduled training, and make it happen.

I guess I should take that advice for both the guitar and the A+ training.

Any vampires out there want to help me out so I can have eternity to perfect this?

(and if it’s all the same to everyone else, I’ll take ….

over …

Thanks.)

Free Advice for Today: “Be gentle with the earth.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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Ashes to Ashes, Buster To Dust

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

Quote of the Day: “There are people who, instead of listening to what is being said to them, are already listening to what they are going to say themselves.”

- Laurens Van der Post

I got a call today.

He was ready to come home.

Again.

One of the biggest mistakes I ever made as a pet owner was when my beloved cat of 13 years, Sidney, died in 29 Palms, I didn’t chose to get the ashes back. To this day, I wish I would have paid the little extra money to have it done and bring home the ashes.

I was not going to make that mistake again.

When I picked up Buster’s ashes today, they were in a proper little wooden box. They had also included a round clay disk that they had imprinted Buster’s paw on. It was a surprise and a welcome remembrance of a wonderful dog.

We decided that we would put the ashes in a vase we received years ago from good friends who had been stationed in China. It is a beautiful blue and white vase with Chinese writing on it and gave an honorable look to a very special shrine we set up in the living room.

I want to thank all of you for the touching outpouring of condolences. Everyone who knew Buster absolutely loved the little knucklehead and he touched a lot of lives. Most of all, ours and we miss him greatly.

One of my readers sent me this and I thought it was wonderful:

THE DOGS WHO HAVE SHARED OUR LIVES

The dogs who’ve shared our lives.
In subtle ways they let us know
their spirit still survives.
Old habits still make us think
we hear a barking at the door.
Or step back when we drop
a tasty morsel on the floor.
Our feet still go around the place
the food dish used to be,
And, sometime, coming home at night,
we miss them terribly.
And although time may bring new friends
and a new food dish to fill,
That one place in our hearts
belongs to them…
and always will.

Free Advice for Today: “Every now and then, bite off more than you can chew.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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My Not-So-Well-Read Life

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

Quote of the Day: “I don’t generally feel anything until noon; then it’s time for my nap.”

- Bob Hope

I’ve talked about this before and you all know I have a Kindle. It’s just about the greatest little invention one can imagine, if you are a bibliophile like myself.

But now I find myself at a crossroads with my library. Like many people I have talked to, I love books. I mean the physical kind (of book, not love, you pervs!).

I like the feel of a book in my hand, seeing the progress I’ve made, noted by the placement of the bookmark, and even the smell of the paper. This is why I think no matter what kind of electronic gadgetry comes about, the physical book will never completely go away.

And yet, I am a gadget guy and the Kindle scores extremely high on the geek meter.

So here I have this huge, mostly unread library of physical books and this cool gadget that will hold more electronic books than I have physical ones!

My temporary solution is to read one of each, alternating until I run out of physical books (around …. never) and then concentrate on the Kindle.

The other big industry I notice coming about is books on tape.

Wow, that really showed my age. Let me update that for ya … audio books.

(sigh)

Going on the internet, you can get just about any book on tape until your head explodes. And now that I have figured out how to easily get them on my iPod or iPhone, overcoming the problem I had with starting up where I left off, I am exposed to a whole new world.

OK, so here is where I stand:

- I have probably 1000 physical books, less than half I’ve actually read
- I have, for all intents and purposes, access to enough e-books to make my eyes bleed
- I have just as many books on tape

So what is the limiting factor in all of this?

That’s simple: time.

What blows my mind si that I don’t have a job. So if I figure in about 8 hours of sleep, that leaves me with 16 hours a day to do whatever the hell I want to do. Consequently, there should be NOTHING I get behind on.

Of course, that is not the case because I am me but in theory, I should have time to read like a maniac.

But I don’t.

I normally only find little slices of time throughout the day and maybe an hour at night. I alternate between the Kindle and a physical book but never dedicate big chunks of time to eat up the pages like you would think I would.

As far as the audio books, I used to use the commute time to and from work but without a job, no can do. Then I used the hour on the treadmill but then I started using a set up at home where I watch videos on a TV I set up at eye level.

I might need to get back to running so I can do the audio books on the run (literally) but music is so much better for that (rhythm, familiarity, motivation, etc.) I have tried audio books while running and it’s hit and miss. Sometimes it’s hard to pay attention when things get rough. And they ALWAYS get tough.

So there you have it. I have the Kindle, I have the physical books, I have the audio books, I have the iPod, now all I need to do is get better at managing the time. If ever there were a case of “easier said than done,” this would be the granddaddy.

Pardon me, I have to go read…

Free Advice for Today: “When friends offer to help, let them.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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