Thursday, May 28, 2009

Do You Think You're Special, Recruit? Episode 2

One day in the summer of 1988, I got a call from the local Navy recruiter.  He wanted me to come to his office and talk about how I could "be all you can be."  The Navy wasn't my first choice.  I was still waiting for the call from the Coast Guard recruiter.  But Fall was approaching fast and I had to do something with my life.

I didn't grow up in a military family.  My grandpa was in the Marine Corps but that was during World War 2 when every able-bodied young man was in uniform.  One of my uncles had been in the Army during the mid-fifties but he never talked about it with me.  My dad was medically disqualified for service in Vietnam.  All of his brothers were too old for the draft and my mom's brothers were too young.  None of my older cousins had chosen military service.  And so far, I am still the only one of my generation to serve.

Anyway, I had a general idea of what Navy life was like.  I'd seen a commercial that showed a group of young sailors, wearing their dress whites, enjoying a rickshaw ride in Hong Kong.  Our neighbor's son had been in the Navy.  His younger sister had a shirt he had bought for her in some exotic place called Djibouti.  And one of my dad's buddies had been an airplane mechanic in the Philippines.  He spent a lot of time scuba diving.

Liberty in Hong Kong, souvenir t-shirts from the Horn of Africa, and swimming in tropical waters.  It sounded pretty cool.

And the Navy had ships.  Ships that travelled the world.  Instead of getting stuck for four years in some God-forsaken hell-hole, ships stop for a few days in hell-holes and then leave.  You never have to sleep in the dirt either when you're in the Navy.  Your bed travels with you.

Because it seemed like I would never get a call from the Coast Guard, I made an appointment to talk to the Navy recruiter.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Do You Think You're Special, Recruit? Episode 1

Cast your mind back to the summer of 1988.

Ronald Reagan was in his last few months in the White House.  Depeche Mode had just played the most friggin awesome concert in the history of British electro-pop concerts at the Rose Bowl.  A Mustang GT, one of the fastest cars on the road, had all of 205 horsepower.  Gas was about a dollar a gallon.  And I was a recent high school graduate with my entire life ahead of me.

I had finished school with decent grades and a good SAT score.  What I didn't have was a strong desire to go to college.  I was pretty tired of school at that point.  I didn't want to go to college right away and I didn't have the money to spend a year abroad.

I had only a bare outline of a plan for my future.  It was something like this:
  1. See the world
  2. Save money for college
  3. Get lunch
I had thought about joining the Coast Guard.  It seemed like a pretty good deal.  I'd get assigned to a small boat crew on the coast of Oregon or Maine and spend my days rescuing distressed boaters and interdicting drug smugglers.  It would be pretty cool.

But Coast Guard recruiters don't call lazy high school graduates.

So I spent the summer sleeping late, working at a Mexican restaurant, rebuilding the engine on my 1967 Chevy truck with my friend Eric, and hanging out with my sort-of girlfriend Barbara.  One day, my hands covered in grease, I got a call from the Marine Corps recruiter.  He wanted to talk to me about all the great things the Marine Corps could do for me.

I had seen "Full Metal Jacket."  Even though my Grandpa was a proud Marine, I wanted nothing to do with the Marine Corps.  All the yelling and push-ups and marching.  No thanks.

And then one day, the Navy recruiter called.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Heard in the Car

Aidan: Knock, knock.

Abigail: Who cares?

Friday, May 15, 2009


The other day Tabitha was looking on Expedia for vacation ideas. She told me she was having trouble finding some of the smaller resorts. Expedia seems to focus primarily on larger resorts and chains.

After a while, she told me she found something. I was doing something else so I didn't have time to look. A few minutes later, I asked her what she wanted to show me. She said, "Nevermind."

The next day I saw a charge for Expedia on our checking account. I put two and two together and asked if she made a reservation.

She did. But she's not telling. (She actually offered to tell me but I declined)

I've got a birthday coming up and our 13th anniversary is only two days after that. The best birthday / anniversary present I can think of is a couple of days alone with Tabitha. That and a Porsche 911 GT3 but I'll take the time alone with Tabitha.

I can't wait.

Monday, May 11, 2009


We rolled through the Drive-Thru at McDonald's the other day to get the kids their dinner. Spare me your condemnation of McDonald's. I know it's crappy food.

Anyway, instead of a cheap plastic toy in the Happy Meal, there was a Kidz Bop sampler CD. Parents are probably all to familiar with Kidz Bop, particularly if you watch television with your kids. The Kidz Bop commercials feature overly enthusiastic pre-pubescent hipsters singing the latest top-40 hits. I usually try to change the channel.

I have so far avoided any exposure to Kidz Bop.

Today, Aidan wanted to listen to the CD. It was, in a word, painful. I can imagine the recording session going something like this:

Kidz finish singing last line of latest Jon Mayer hit.

Producer: That was great kidz. Now do it again, but make it louder.

They're not exactly singing. I think they're belting. My only hope is that Aidan will succeed in scratching the CD so I won't have to listen to it again.

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Little Things Add Up

The economy is in the crapper right now. The government is running around like a trillionaire chicken with it's head cut off, spewing money from it's gaping neck wound. Like many companies, my employer is looking for ways to save money.

They've reduced staffing, delayed acquisition and maintenance of equipment, and reorganized departments. Lately we've received a flurry of e-mails requesting employees change the way we go about doing business.

They want us to stop dialing directory assistance from company telephones.

They want us to use the Internet to look for telephone numbers. Apparently, we have been spending unknown tens of dollars calling directory assistance. Calls to directory assistance are going to break the back of my company. The situation is so dire, they have rewritten policy to prohibit the use of directory assistance.

Not a problem. As long as they don't restrict my internet access.