Monday, June 30, 2008

More Money Than Sense

From meandering around my blogroll, I see that JD, referencing AD, has a motorcycle story to tell. Never being one to ignore a story when reminded of it, I suppose I can throw something into the ring, as well. Not nearly as traumatic as the others', but interesting in my own way.

I've never owned a motorcycle of my own growing up, they fit squarely into that arena that Momma Murphy knew was A Bad Idea. (Thanks, Mom!) Fortunately for me, I lived in essentially a wide spot of a large highway in Arizona for a few years, and some of my friends had some dirtbikes, wide open spaces, and an excess of courage.

We crashed 'em really, more so than rode them. Thought we were friggin' li'l Evel Kinevils, or something.

A couple of years back I decided that it might be a good idea to look into getting a bike. I thought the smart thing to do would be to attend one of those training classes that I'd heard about, shop around for an older bike, something smaller to brush off the cobwebs, before going big (on bike engine and $$$). I asked around, signed up for a class, and started dreaming of chrome, biker babes, and the wind blowing through my... high and tight.

The class was pretty interesting, all in all.

It was kind of... routine at the beginning, due to the fact that it's designed to accommodate all levels of riders, from folks like me with 'some' experience, to those that have never ridden before. I did feel a little bit like a circus monkey when they put me on what seemed like a 3cc engine dual. Fortunately, they had some ~10cc bikes available for the normal - er - those folks over 6 ft. [insert circus music here]

I didn't have to worry about falling off, because the first thing you practiced was... getting on the bike.


Proceeding somewhat agonizingly slowly, as a class we rehearsed getting on, getting off, walking the bike forwards... Comeon already, when are we getting to the jumps!? Next, we progressed to turning the motor on, then off, then on...

sigh... saving $$ on insurance, at least...

It did get kinda interesting, eventually. I found it amusing that when we progressed to actually riding the bikes, it was more difficult than I remembered to make figure 8s at minimal speed. Probably because as a kid we didn't really focus on turns, so much... it was more along the lines of pick up the bike, brush yourself off & and check for anything broken, and then go like hell the other way.

Nearing the end of the first day we took a break, and a few of us started up a conversation. Most of the other folks already knew what kind of bike they were gonna ride, whether inherited from other riders or bought, el cheapo style. I was talking to a rather nice gentleman, a retired Army Major, if I remember correctly, who was telling me about the sales deals in Iraq.

See, they got this program in some places where you can go to the trailers down by the px, sit in some nice A/C and order cars, trucks, and motorcycles for apparently a pretty good deal. You can't take delivery obviously, while you are there, but when you come back to the states, you just mosey on over to your local dealership to complete the last of the paperwork. Sounds like a good idea, right?


So the Major, like I said, a nice guy was telling me about Iraq, sales, and life in general. I was particularly keen on hearing about Iraq, because the writing on the wall and all the li'l birdies were saying that we'd be making the trip, sooner rather than later.

I asked him what kind of bike he had ordered.

It's been too many years now, to remember exactly what kind of bike he got, but I do remember that it was a Harley Davidson, and not one of the 'cheap' ones, either. All the bells and whistles, a really nice bike, but more than I had paid for my car(s). All of 'em... lifetime, combined.

[low whistle]

How much experience did he have, again?

About 4 hours.

No, this video isn't the gent in question, but it was about what was running through my mind right about then...

Well, I never heard any particularly gruesome news stories about expensive crashes, so I dare to hope that he went on to enjoy a long and safe riding experience. As for me, shortly after finishing the class, taking the test, scraping together my woeful motorcycle fund, I got a phone call... about a really sweet deal on a bike? Nope, from my chain of command. "Pack your trash, we're taking a little trip..."


Sunday, June 29, 2008


Everybody enjoying the Euro 2008 final between Germany and Spain?

Hello? Anybody?


Meh, mebbe this is more to y'all's enjoyment.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

It's Happy Hour Somewhere


Seems like some folks got their pretty pink panties in quite the twist over the Supreme Court's decision.

Some mighty loooong faces that just put an even bigger smile on mine. No linky, just cruise on over to... wherever.

I was just gonna propose a toast for the occasion, but decided on a game, too.

One sip for any comment (and any variation) of: Wild Wild West...

Bottoms up for: Blood will run in the streets!


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Another One Bites The Dust


With that latest order from the First Sergeant, there was a mad rush to abandon ship. Marines were hurtling themselves through hatches, climbing over racks, all but diving offa the ship, and preparing themselves to run over anyone of a lesser rank than they were.

There was liberty to be had.

Me, I figgured that I would avoid the rush. Me and my liberty party (group of guys that agree to hang together during libo in a foreign port) had already decided on this, and agreed that 20 or 30 minutes would definitely not kill us on a three day pass. None of us had any duty until the evening of the second day, so there was plenty of time to go out and have a good time without battling the human waves fleeing the ship.

I leisurely walked down to the heads, took a shower, and slowly got dressed. By the time I finished, most of the platoon was already gone, save for the poor bastards that had to stand some type of watch. I gathered my libo crew up and as we were going through the motions of signing out, tried to decide what we were going to do. A couple of the guys were married, others needed to call significant others, so we decided to hit the phone center.

Most all ports that I was in had several things in common.

Once you were past the long-faced sulky Marines standing watch, once you had signed out under the glare of the Corporal of the Guard, you left the ship. More or less immediately off of the ship, you had to contest with the local taxi drivers, guides, and prostitutes. All were quite eager to get any business that could be had. There were usually a number of nearby shops selling mementos, munchies, and maps. The shops were what we were looking for, because around the shops were usually banks to exchange money and phone banks to call home.

*brrring.... brrring*

MY LOVE: Hello?

ME: Howdy.

MY LOVE: *insert high pitched squeal here*

ME: [ears bleeding]

[Insert several minutes of disgustingly romantic drivel the likes I swore that I'd never be caught dead uttering, mushy comments of love, loneliness, and other... stuff.]

Calling home is one of the true high lights... especially when it's to one's One True Love. Yup, ole Murf was turning in his bachelor status, and as evidenced by phone records, his man card as well. Phone calls were rare, due to my working schedule, but very important, 'cause we were planning a wedding.

I'll let that sink in for a moment... we were planning a wedding... while I was on deployment.

Now, if I can continue amidst the wild cheering from those guys that figgure I had it made in the shade, lemme 'splain something. Guys, as good as it sounds to miss out on plans, reservations, fittings (uniform), phone calls, tastings, etc etc (and for good measure, etc), and I admit, it's does sound good, there's a down side to all of that. Don't believe me?

Heh, heh, heh.

ME: So, babe, how goes the plans?

MY LOVE: *Squeal* Glad you asked! I've gotten a lot of stuff done.... let's see here, I reserved the restaurant, the hall, gotten the plates decided on....

ME: Hold on, hold on, just a sec... how much was the reservation for [the following occurred for each category; restaurant, dress(es), food, booze, gratuities, and... pretty much all of 'em]?

MY LOVE: Oh it's perfect! It's lovely! It's...

ME: Great, baby, it's your 'big day' after all, but how much was it?

MY LOVE: ... it's exactly what I was looking for!...

[insert ominous music here]

ME: So it was...

MY LOVE: ... such a deal! My sister's friend's cousin's old high school teacher's hairdresser's baby-daddy's college buddy knew of this guy who'd heard of this new shop....

ME: [making sign of the cross]

MY LOVE: ... and we got it on sale, too!...

ME: [Hail Mary, fulla grace. Blessed art Thou amongst...] On sale for...

MY LOVE: ... a good thing too, as we're paying for it, aren't you happy?

ME: [Praying to any and all deities now, real and imagined] 'Course I'm happy baby, I'm just wondering how-

MY LOVE: *Squeal!* I'm so happy!

ME: [gritting teeth]

Yeah, I kinda think her Mom had it all figured out. When asked by My Lovely if she would ante up for... let's take food, for example, she'd respond along the lines of, 'sure, guess we can have weenies and beans in the back yard or something...' Bingo. Murf's got the tab for the grub.

Wedding's are expensive, y'all. Nice, but expensive.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The good LT pointed out a post here, about yet another protest in Berkley. There's a line in Zombie's post that really hit home to me about how crazy this whole situation is getting. It's a caption to a photo of a letter taped up to the window of the Marine Officer Selection Office. The letter expresses thanks to supporters and advises those interested in info to knock on the door, as it's kept locked due to the 'recent high volume of foot traffic'.

The caption to the foto is as follows.

"Due to an attempted invasion by topless protesters a couple weeks earlier, the Marine Corps Officer Recruiting Office (as it's officially called) has now been forced to keep its doors locked; the office remains open for business, but they only allow in people who have a legitimate reason to be there."

Holy Shit.

Come on, now 'California girls', boobies, and Marines. I happen to know that I'll put... er, I mean I've heard that Marines will put up with a quite a bit of crazy if there just happens to be boobies involved. Not saying that it's always a good thing, but just that it is what it is. To lock the boobies out and away from the Marines seems... well, cruel. How can topless chicks be considered not legit?

Hold on a sec...

Perusing the rest of the site demonstrates many, many [shudder], many reasons why those doors might be locked. Hell, I'd probably break out the sandbags, razor wire, and m9s. Heck, soap and water might be enough deterrent for some of 'em. [bleh!]

On a side note, good to see that there still are those willing to take the time to support the troops, even in Berkley.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Murphy Finds His First True Love

Once upon a time, sometimes seems like long ago, there was a young guy named 'Murphy'. Murphy was a dashing young chap, smart, athletic, the love of the ladies...

Oh, the joy of being your own editor...

... so anyways, Murphy graduated from high school and found himself without much to do for a summer besides working at the local grocery, partying, ferrying younger siblings around to soccer and ballet, partying, sleeping, partying, trying to figure out what he was gonna do when he grew up (still working on that one), partying... you get the picture.

He decided to join one of the local Rex Kwon Do clubs.


Largely due to his endless skill, lightning quick reflexes, immense power [read: thick skull and plenty of enthusiasm], he became the defacto live practice dummy for Sensei 'Bob', when the head honcho was out. Bob was a big ole boy, and what he lacked in skill, he made up for in gut ... er... knowledge.

It wasn't all bad, there were some good guys and gals there, and Murphy had a lot of fun. He learned all about tournament tag, got alot of exercise, and made some friends.

One day, Murphy got done with a long afternoon of taking the siblings around town, hustled over to the nearest Taco Hell, dropped them off at the house, made a quick grocery run for mom, and then made his way to the club. Pulling up in the very fashionable mini-van (thanks, Mom!), he got to the school in time for the beginners class. Planning to just sit, stretch, and basically hang out, he noticed her.

We'll just call her Suzy, and she was quite the lovely.

She didn't have the standard white baggy uniform on, so was wearing some soccer shorts and a tank top.

Did I mention that ole Murf had just graduated high school? Yeah, take a wild guess at what I noticed... Yup, she had beautiful eyes.

Seriously though, she was a looker. About 25 years old (only 8 years my senior, score!), in decent shape (see above), and obviously looking for a younger 'man'.

*Ahem* Give me a moment here, to slick back my eyebrows...

God, I was (am?) such a schmuck! *smack*

As it turns out, Sensei Bob was teaching a class full of new students, and, noticing that I was hanging out, offered to let me take part in teaching the new folks.


About 30 minutes into the class, after the stretches and warm-up, Bob the party-pooper pulled me aside and told me to stop hassling the new gal (it must've been the cheesy lines).

I can only hope that she thought it was endearing or cute, because thinking back on it, I often apply palm to forehead, rapidly, and with much force. *smack*

The class continued, as it normally did, with some basic techniques, and some very limited sparring, with me pining away from afar, banished to the far end of the room.

I noticed that Bob was spending quite a bit of time working with Suzy.

The bastard.

Interspersed with some of the sparring, we did some calisthenics, to keep the heart rate up, tire us out, and to try to show that technique was very important when one got tired. Bob decided that we'd go ahead and do quite a bit of ab exercises. Interesting choice, especially considering his prominent 'Buddha' belly, I remember thinking...

One exercise that we did back then was where you would lie on the ground with your feet six inches above the floor and your hands above your head, also about six inches off the floor. It's a heck of an exercise, and doesn't take too long to start to tire you out. Some of the class was struggling to hold the position, and Bob told everyone to relax for a second. He called me up to the front and told me to assume the position. So I spread my feet, put my hands on the wall -

Not that one, crazy....

I dropped down flat on my back, extended my arms and legs, and made the 'V'.

He took his time explaining to the class the benefits of the position to the body's core, and how those benefits would relate to learning all of the various kicks that they taught in the school. While he was going through his soliloquy, I snuck a peek (or 5) at the love of my life, thinking about how I would lay down my game, after the class was finished. It was true love, after all, and I could get lost gazing into her, ahem, 'eyes'...


He decided to get creative in my demonstrating the position.

As I was just about getting to the point where my abs were starting to shake, when I had started to regret getting that extra-large burrito for lunch, when I was trying to think about future plans to take my mind off of the burn, I caught the last part of his speech - "...we want to get creative with this position, we do something like this!"

He then stepped on my stomach.

Now, despite the fact that he was a big guy, and I was not, this was not usually a big deal. I was pretty resilient, usually, and given enough heads up, would normally be able to stand the momentary weight with little more than a low grunt. On the other hand, usually and normally I wouldn't have had the somewhat gaseous belly that I had at that particular time.

Have you figured out what happened when my tired abs met Bob's big stanky footsies, all of a sudden, like?

Yeah, I grunted - from both ends - and it wasn't particularly quiet, neither. Heck, there wasn't even a dog nearby that I could blame it on. To say that I was mortified would be somewhat of an understatement.

Somehow, someway, I didn't get the girl.

Go figure, huh.

Come to think of it, it was a pretty good indicator of the usual plan of action re: the lovelies - fall hard, fall fast, then crash and burn. Spectacularly.

Thankfully, future crashes and burnings were never done in that exact way again, though...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Thought I had already posted this one, but a brief search suggests not.

So speaking of Primo and familial misadventures, on many of my trips down to visit family, he and I spend quite a bit of time together. He's just a wee bit older than I, but we share many of the same interests, sense of humor, and/or immaturities. We hadn't really delved into the potentially large realm of pranks, save for a few times. Usually his (pranks), at my (painful) expense.

One very late and unusually... bright & loud morning, he and I stumbled and fumbled our way through our morning routines to prepare for the day. Sleep would have been preferable, but this was a day to visit the Tias, and if there is one thing you don't do, it's piss off your Tias by electing to sleep away the day. [shudder] Now, when I say 'Tias' (the spanish word for 'aunt'), I should probably mention that Dad only had one actual, living sister. The family also uses the word for grand-aunts, all of Dad's female cousins, further-extended family relatives (by blood, marriage, or sentiment), and for good measure, close family friends.

It was a loooong day, lemme tell ya.

Before getting to the actual day, well, you gotta put something in your belly, right? Primo asked if I wanted anything for breakfast. I told him that as long as there was coffee, I was up for whatever. Bachelors that we were, we heated up some rice and stew-type leftovers, fried a couple of eggs, and called it a feast.

As we plopped the plates on the table, he asked if I wanted any sauces for the food. I had noticed a shallow bowl with a greenish type of sauce in it, and asked him if that was guacamole. He chuckled and told me that it was something they called, 'aji'. He told me, "pruebalo, es rico" [try it, it's good stuff].

Now, I recognized that it was some sort of spice, and while I don't have to have hot 'n spicey with every meal, I do like a little bit of variety now and then. I am, hover, not stupid (you in the back, shut up and wait for it like everyone else), so I dipped the tip of my spoon in the dip, for the taste... - [translated] "What's the matter, sissyboy afraid of a little spice" he asked? He plunked his spoon in the spice bowl, scooped up a spoonfull, and popped it in his mouth.

Well, now that my manliness was on the line, (it's not stupid, it's machismo, dammit), I took a big ole heap on my spoon and started to raise it to my mouth... "hey now" he said, "why not mix it with your rice?"

Apparently, he only wanted to play a joke, not be charged with reckless homicide.

I grunted, dropped most of the spice into the bowl, and essentially put my lightly spice coated spoon into the heaping pile of rice on my plate. I swirled a few times and again raised my spoon to my mouth...

I got about as far as HOLYMOTHEROFTHESWEETCRYINGBA- before my tongue melted off, abandoned the burning ship that was the remnants of my mouth, and scampered away in search of the south pole.

Primo was quite amused.

Grabbing for the nearest drink of anything, I slammed down about half a culp of scalding hot coffee. That was... an interesting experience.

He was howling.

I could picture the expression on their face and the phrase uttered by nearly all females of the family when, for whatever reason (read: fifths of any plate can be a little much), I would decline any of their food. "Don't you like my cooking, my dear?" [sadlook and/or poutface]

About then's where I think he actually dribbled a little bit of pee.

He neglected to tell me that they grow up on spicey - practially put the stuff in the baby bottle from birth - my 'spicy' would be downright bland, to him.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

A Lesson Learned from My Father

First of all, a Happy Day to all the Fathers out there...

Been thinking about my own Dad, naturally, the good and the bad. I know that he wasn't perfect, but I seem to have realized an interesting thing. Even in the 'bad', there were lessons for me to learn.

Lemme 'splain...

Dad, like a lot of the guys on his side of the family, had a highly developed sense of work-ethic. It's not an uncommon thing at all to see the men of the family wake early, go to the shop, plant, base, station, office, etc, work twelve, thirteen, -and many more- hours, and come home only after late night meetings, training sessions, dinner with potential clients, showing the visiting managers around the town, etc. This would go on pretty much the entirety of a man's working life, slowing down only when he did, due to age. A good, strong work-ethic is a valuable thing, especially in this day and age, but it can lead to some issues. When ethic crosses the line into something approaching obsession, well, that can cause some problems.

The problems it caused in my own family was that Dad was so often gone from the house, it got to the point where he was missing out on the family life. His professional career was booming, promotions and raises were there, when he left a company employment offers were usually promising, but he was missing out on everything else.

This did cause some friction between him and Mom.

One of the things that I especially liked about my high school, new as it was, was the swim team. Basically, because the school was in its first years, all the teams pretty much sucked, and walk ons were encouraged - hell, they were desperate for any talent they could get. I had some ability in the pool (read; I didn't loose too much time that couldn't be made up in the relays), and I even made the team in a couple of solo events. To make practice before school, I would crawl out of bed at the butt-crack of 0 dark 30 and sleep-walk to the car where Dad would drive me to the pool. I enjoyed the swimming and the competition, but I enjoyed what time we had during our drives.

When the swimming season ended, I would continue to ride with Dad to the pool. Coach liked the dedication, I liked the rides.

The thing about his 'workalcoholicismicity', he - like others in my family - saw their jobs as a vital point in supporting the family. The more you worked and earned, the more worth that you had, something along those lines.

That idea does have some merit (to a point), but what really impressed me came some years later.

See, he realized what his commitments to work was doing to his family. It wasn't something that came around all of a sudden, it was very much of a gradual process, but he did learn it. About 10 years or so ago, he found out that taking a Sunday off wouldn't kill the business, and even now and then [gasp] a Saturday home from work might be in order as well. Calling home to check in with the folks became a little more spotty now and then, because Mom and Dad were occasionally out to dinner and a movie, even. He would email more and more often, sending funny clips, bad jokes, and stuff that would probably get most folks in trouble for viewing at work (very funny, but kinda naughty).

He started to end his calls and emails with the ever constant, 'be good, li'l boy'.

Damn, I miss that.

It didn't just affect the immediate family, but the extended as well. He made more trips down south to visit his Mom and Dad in the past 5-10 years, and for longer periods of time, than the previous 20. He took us to little towns that he grew up in, saw his old haunts, and met some of his old friends.

It was on a trip to visit his maternal grandmother on her 105th birthday (yeah, really), and afterwards, when he traveled to the mountains to visit with his father, that he died.

So, while it might sound like a sad post, and I guess it is, a little, the point of this post is more about thanks that there really is so much that I'm still learning from the man. I can only hope that I provide similar examples and lessons, building off of those of my father, to my own children, one day.

Love you, Dad. Miss you like hell, love you more.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Valiantly Flailing Away at my Blog Roll...


[pant, pant]


Sgt... [gasp] Hor-*giggle* "King of-" Bwahaha!! [fistdeskfistdesk]


Thursday, June 12, 2008

And.... I'm Back.

Fun thoughts, from traveling.

To the lady who pulled onto the highway from the shoulder with a whole two blinks of the turn signal... might want to check to see if there doesn't happen to be oh, i dunno, ANY TRAFFIC FROM BEHIND!!! I understand, the phone call must've been really important. I can't really pretend to be all that angry, because I did get to see Mom make the 'You're #1, buddy!' sign. Haven't seen that one in awhile...

I no longer seem to have the butt-skills necessary to drive for extended periods of time. Pffft, I needed a marker to re-draw my crack, it seemed...

Seeing new folks recently married into a rather large family is always interesting. They're walking around with a thousand yard stare on their face, and no one's told 'em that quite a few folks haven't even showed up yet! I got a kick out of introducing myself several times, with multiple names, and different family tree references, just for kicks.

I spent an unusually large amount of time this reunion trying to figure out which new kids belonged to which cousin or aunts/uncles. Good times.

That chick who speaks to me from the GPS can get kinda annoying, especially when she decides that I've made a wrong turn. I just want my tacos, lady, cut me some friggin' slack!

Day-dreaming about going back to work to unwind from the vacation is a cruel, sick, and twisted joke.