Archive for January, 2009

NYR #9

January 20, 2009

Never underestimate the power of a fresh pastry on a child’s outlook on life.

Judging by the expression on Cayden’s face, it is easily deduced that prior to ingesting this Dunkin Donuts powdered deliciousness he was in less than a stellar mood.














Pre-ingestion- He is extremely volatile, ready to unleash a stream of ugliness at the drop of a hat.  He raises the donut to his lips and partakes.




















The sugar shoots straight to his brain so rapidly that he momentarily experiences a loss of composure  and control of his optical nerves.  He is confused- but strangely content.












Ahhhhhhhhh, sweet euphoria- total cost 30 cents. Well worth the investment.



NYR #8

January 19, 2009

Sometimes you need to give before you receive.

In order to get quality homework time from the guys, I had to promise to do two things. For Mack to do his homework, I had to agree to 20 minutes of catch in the backyard (it’s 30 degrees in Maryland today- this activity was less than enjoyable).

Cayden’s request was an indoor activity. He wanted to fight me in the living room. He has been taunting me ever since he finished his homework. A couple of minutes ago he called me “Sally” and told me he was going to kick my butt so hard that I would be wearing my spleen as a hat (Cayden believes that the spleen is located in the proximity of one’s rectum- his threat makes complete sense in the Groah universe). So as I finish up this quick note, Cayden is stretching and prepping for our match. It is highly probable that he will stomp my groin in the process, so my plan is to urinate now because in about 5-minutes it will probably hurt too much to do so.

Here I come buddy… Let’s get ready to RUMBLE!

I told you in an earlier post that my mother gave our kids a Wii Fit for Christmas.

If you’re unfamiliar with the program, I’ll try to explain. The Wii Fit is an interactive program that offers a wide range of physical fitness activities to participate in. The benefit of the Wii is that you can do all of these activities from the safety and comfort of your own home- no need to travel to the slopes, the gym, or the court. Unlike other Wii games, the Fit actually requires you to perform no-kidding exercises such as yoga, Pilate’s, hula-hooping, skiing etcetera. Your efforts are monitored by the use of the hand controller and an electronic fitness platform.

When you begin the Fit program you’re asked to create your very own character- known as a Mii.  The Mii represents you in the cyber fitness universe. This is a pretty sophisticated program, so you can personalize your Mii to look just like you- from hair and eye color all the way to those bushy old-man eyebrows you start to sprout when you cross the magical “over 40” boundary (my eyebrows are still legit, I’m only 38).

Once your Mii is created, the system starts to collect data points. It ask you to step on the board and enter your age, height and birth date. It calculates your weight automatically, so no need to waste your time making shit up- the damn thing is pretty friggin’ accurate too. Once it gets your vitals, it asks you to perform some simple balance drills and from this it determines your Wii Fit age.

Ahhh, your Wii Fit age. I am sure that in the short time that Wii Fit has been available this number has created an amazing amount of controversy. Supposedly the Wii is smart enough to take your data points (age, weight, height) and then match them to the results of your balance test and determine how old you are in fitness years. For instance, a 30 year old man who exercises regularly and is fit and trim should expect to have a Wii Fit age less than his actually age- lets say 25. This is logical right?

When your fitness age is announced it’s kind of a big deal. In our home all activity comes to a screeching halt so that every family member can marvel at your level of fitness or laugh at how out of shape you actually are. The process begins with a no-kidding drum roll and your Mii saying “Now announcing your Wii Fit Age”. Then with all of the pomp and circumstance of the Grammy Awards your Wii Fit Age pops onto the screen in huge bold numbers followed by either cheers or a gasp- no joke, the Wii mocks you with a gasping crowd if it has determined that you’re out of shape.

It gets even better- if your Wii has decided that you’re overweight, your Mii morphs to coincide with its assessment i.e. he plumps up right before your very eyes. I know this because I was categorized as borderline morbidly obese- my Mii went from Brad Pitt to a meatball with legs in a split second. To add insult to injury, every time I get on the fitness platform it makes an ugly grunting sound as if the burden of supporting my weight is too much to bear. The first time I got on after my fitness age was announced I think it actually muttered “Holy Shit- the fat guy’s back”.  Nice language Wii, do you kiss your motherboard with that mouth?

Smart Alleck Wii Platform

Smart Alec Wii Platform











I no longer like the Wii Fit. I’ve worked out every day for the past 20 years and to have this smart ass little machine tell me I’m a rotund bag of goo just about put me through the roof. Oh and by the way, my fitness age is almost 50- good God, and here I thought I was in pretty decent shape.  I wish someone would have told me how out of shape I was before I ran that last marathon as I would have trained a little differently. That’s right, you heard me Mr. Wii. Tubby ran a marathon, two in fact. Now apologize or I’ll let Cayden play with you unsupervised.

Not only did the Wii call me fat, but fortunately for me it did so in front of my entire family. The boys were pretty silent when the announcement was made, however, they did walk over and solemnly stroke the console like they would soon be saying good bye to an old friend. Connie was not so gracious. She started to laugh the second my Mii inflated to beach ball sized proportions. She laughed harder when it announced I would soon be eligible for social security benefits. And she nearly wet herself when I immediately started to argue with my Mii, about who was and was not in good shape. The Wii didn’t care if I was angry or not, it continued to mock me. When I stepped off the fitness platform it said “Ahhhhh, thank you for removing your fat ass from my spine. Please come again when your weight is proportionate to your height and will no longer produce undue strain to the operating system. Have a pleasant day.”

I sure would like to meet the gaming engineer who gave my Wii such a sarcastic sense of humor. I would probably make the suggestion that they cultivate a stronger desire for self preservation and maybe leave the cutting wit for a more robust piece of machinery.

NYR #7

January 18, 2009











Cayden’s new nickname- “Altoid”- because this joker is curiously strong.

Time for me to reconsider our nightly wrestling matches- I had no idea they were training this hard while I was at work.


January 18, 2009

Not more than 12-hours after Mack sent a hard rubber ball sailing through our basement window, I caught him and Cayden doing the exact same behavior that broke the window in the first place.  First, I heard the ball being bounced off the wall, and then I actually witnessed Mack hurling the ball as hard as he could at Cayden who was running full speed trying to avoid having his head taken clean off.

I could not believe it. After all we went through last night. Not only did I forgive Mack for breaking the window but I actually praised him for his honesty. I was completely taken/hoodwinked/suckered/bamboozled.

I remained calm, even though on the inside I was screaming, because I wanted to hear how Mack would handle being caught red-handed.

Here is the conversation:

Dad- “Mack, isn’t this the exact same thing you did last night that resulted in a broken window and a near death experience?”

Mack- “Oh no Dad, I was just trying to hand Cayden the ball” (My boy thinks I’m stupid)

Dad- “Really, is it common to hand someone a ball by throwing it with all your might while they run screaming from you in the opposite direction?”

Mack- “Absolutely.” (holy shit, my boy is convinced that not only am I completely out of touch with reality, but in fact he is smarter than me and he believes he can talk his way out of this)

Dad- “Cayden, come here.” (at this point I had the ball in my hand)

Cayden- “Yes, Daddy.”

Dad- “Here you go, Cayden. I wanted to hand this ball to you so you could have it. See that Mack that’s how you hand someone an object.”

Mack- “Ohhh, that’s how you do it, no kidding, I had no idea Dad.” (feigning sincerity)

Dad- “Ahhggggg!, go to your room until your 20.”

I ended up throwing away every hard rubber ball in our house and canceling the playdate that we had planned (see I am a hard ass). But here’s the kicker, Connie and I took the boys to play racquetball later that day. How ironic is that? Talk about mixed signals. What do you think I taught the boys on our outing? Not only will they have a new appreciation for hard rubber balls- but now I showed them how to increase the velocity of the ball by smashing it with a racquet.  Maybe I am that stupid and out of touch…

Call me Mr. Groah…

January 17, 2009

I retire from the Marine Corps this September and recently had the opportunity to attend a week long class on the retirement process. The class is called Transition Assistance Program or TAP. The military no longer likes to say you’re retiring- they would prefer that you call it transitioning. They do this for a couple  of reasons. One, your military retirement is not enough to live on so they don’t want to create a false sense of security. And two, the word retiree sends the wrong message to potential employers- the message being I’m kind of old and not real motivated to contribute to your organization’s goals. (I kind of believe that last one is bullshit; I am retiring and then transitioning.)

So I went to learn how to transition into the civilian world. I think this is pretty important stuff for guys like me who have been in uniform for their entire adult lives. The military has its own culture and way of doing things and our methods may at times be inconsistent with the civilian sector. The Marine Corps considers this training valuable as well- they don’t want to unleash us on an unsuspecting public without the benefit of a few pointers.

So I spent a week in civilian clothes listening to various speakers discuss a variety of topics. While some of the information was about benefits, a lot of the information was geared towards finding a second career and the rest of it focused on how not to become “that Crazy Ex-Marine” who makes the members of his community nervous.

Here are a few of the nuggets I walked away with:

1.  In the civilian work force it is frowned upon when you bring an automatic weapon to your place of employment. In the Marine Corps it is only frowned upon if the automatic weapon is dirty- God help you if the damn thing is rusty- that, my friends, is unforgivable.

2. Civilians don’t have to shave every day and they can grow their hair out as long as they want- even the men. Holy shit, it must be complete anarchy out there! I’m growing me a goatee and some sideburns the minute I retire- maybe I’ll get me a nose ring too.

3.  You shouldn’t wear camouflage utilities to your new job. Civilian employers don’t appreciate it when you show up to work dressed as a tree or shrub- most bosses like it when they can locate their subordinates with relative ease. This tells me that In the civilian work force cover and concealment are not considered a priority.

4.  There is no need to fortify your cubicle- it is unlikely that you will be rocketed.

5.  Most businesses do not shut down for an hour a day to allow their employees to conduct physical training- however, if you’re a smoker you can work 15-minutes per hour into your benefits package for smoke breaks.

6.  Dropping “F” bombs is considered tacky and the term should be permanently removed from your lexicon.

7.  Some occupations are just a job- not an adventure.

8.  In the interview process a potential employer may ask you what you “really think of them, or their organization”.  This is not an opportunity to tell them that you believe he or she is a “Pig dressed in a human suit”.  The transition assistance program offers a three-day seminar in tact for those of us who have yet to master the concept.

9.  Don’t put your weapons qualification on your resume. No one cares if you can hit a silhouette target at 500 meters- it’s probably not relevant to the job you’re interviewing for anyway.

10.  You can’t put overweight co-workers on mandatory physical fitness programs unless they agree to it.

11.  Purchase a military to civilian common phrase translation guide- they speak an entirely different language out there.  For instance, if your boss asks you to prepare a presentation, do not reply with the following:  (Bolded print represents civilian equivalent)

Shane- “Aye, aye sir.  I’m on it like a hobo on a ham sandwich (Okay, I understand). I can have it back in your Area of Operations (Boss’s desk) by COB (close of business).  I’ll need 20-mikes (minutes) to give the platoon (co-workers) a warning order (heads up) to prep fires (prepare a outline) on the objective (presentation).  Once I get it back we will conduct rehearsals before crossing the line of departure (before I turn in the final product I will run spell check).

12.  Regardless of how many hours your employees have worked that day, it is never okay to have them strip off their shoes and socks so you can conduct a blister check.

13.  If someone gets hurt in the office, it is unlikely that you will need to apply a battle dressing or tourniquet. Most injuries which occur in office buildings are fairly benign.  By the way, calls for “Corpsman Up’ or “Medic” will go unanswered and make fellow co-workers uncomfortable.

14.  Along the same lines as #13, most civilians don’t know how to treat a sucking chest wound- lunch break is not the appropriate time to teach them.

15.  There is no need to ask subordinate employees if they are properly hydrated.  The likelihood of them passing out in a climate controlled office space is fairly low.

16.  An assault pack in the civilian work force is known as a brief case.

17.  One of our speakers told me I should get a manicure before going to any interviews. Not sure how I feel about that suggestion.  All I know is it’s a good thing I wasn’t barefoot- he would have suggested that I amputate my feet.  21-years in combat boots have not been kind to my hooves.

18.  Civilian jobs sometimes pay you what’s called “overtime”.  If you are fortunate enough to get paid this money, it’s not a mistake and the employer will not ask for it back. It’s actually yours to spend, potentially on a manicure.

19.  Never try to put all of your fellow employees in a formation and march them around a parking lot, it will not be appreciated.

20.  If your employer ask you to do something that could potentially result in the loss of your life you can say no.

After looking at what I learned this week I probably need to take the course again.  There has to be more to this civilian thing that the 20 snippets I just jotted down.

Resolution Day 5

January 16, 2009

Mack ran up from the basement with a terrified look on his face this evening. The minute he found me, a string of words began to flow from his face so quickly that I had difficulty keeping up with what he was trying to convey.

Mack- (Nervous) “Dad I wanted to tell you the truth because I know that it’s always best to tell the truth- so I wanted to be honest and tell you the truth because that’s what people should always do- they should tell the truth because then they don’t really get punished for something that was completely a mistake and not their fault to begin with- so it’s always best to just tell your mom or dad what happened so they won’t be mad and yell, or kill you or something- because you wouldn’t kill me if I told you the truth, right Dad?” (Nothing good has ever come from a conversation which started like this)

Dad- (Calm) “What did you do Mack?”

Mack- (Calm) “I was bouncing a hard rubber ball in the basement and I broke a window” (pause for effect)

Mack- (Less than calm bordering on hysterical) “But I didn’t do it on purpose and it broke- and glass- and a hole- and cold air and…” (several minutes of sobbing, whimpering and aquatic effects followed)

“sob, sob, gasp, sob, sob, gasp, gasp, slobber, sob, sob, sob, sniffffffffff, snort, tears, tears, tears” (no more tears but corresponding sound effects providing the illusion of tears)

Dad- (Still calm, but obviously annoyed) “Mack, suck up the tears- I’m not buying it, show me what you did and help me fix it.”

Mack- (Miraculously calm once more) “Oh, okay Dad- follow me.”

Sure enough, Mack had managed to take a hard rubber ball the size of a quarter and score a direct hit on the only window in our basement.  Just to orient you and illustrate the improbability of such an event occurring- our basement is about 900 square feet.  The only object in our basement that could possibly be damaged by a hard rubber ball is a 24 X 9 inch, single pane, recessed window which sits approximately 7 feet off the ground. Add the fact that today is the single coldest day of the year and you tell me the odds of such an accident taking place?

Just to put you at ease, Mack was not sentenced to death. I patched the hole, patted him on the back for his courage and then made him clean the basement. Tomorrow I plan on making him read about a thousand books to repay me for the duct tape used in the repair process.

Resolution Day 4

January 15, 2009

Mack was sent to the school nurse this morning. To date, he has required medical attention 11 times this year- it’s January 15th. I am beginning to believe my son is either extremely accident prone or a hypochondriac.

Regardless of the circumstances, he is extremely proud of the splint and corresponding Ace bandage that now adorn his wrist and thumb. Personally, I think the poor school nurse got so tired of his pestering that she gave up some medical surplus to satiate his injury fantasy and earn a reprieve from his nagging.

However, since neither Connie nor I are medical professionals ,we cannot disprove his claim, so we are obliged to pamper him a bit. But I will say watching him max out guitar hero this evening has created a degree of doubt regarding the legitimacy of his injury.

Resolution Day 3

January 14, 2009

If third grade math would have been a general education requirement in undergrad, I would have had to drop out.

Tonight while making dinner, I attempted to help Mack complete his math homework. First of all, when helping your third grader with his/her homework, do not attempt to complete any other task. This evolution will require every ounce of your attention and mental agility.

Secondly, your inability to adequately explain/perform the requirements levied in the nightly math assignment validates your child’s theory that the work is well beyond their level of comprehension and as such should be labeled cruel and unusual punishment- after 30 minutes of fruitless effort you will tend to agree with their assessment.

Finally, the realization that you’re not as intelligent as the average 4th grader will lead to extreme hypertension and take years off your life.

Should Mack require assistance coloring and pasting shapes to construction paper- I’m the man. For all other academic endeavors, I am sending him straight to his mother.

Resolution Day 2…

January 13, 2009

Tonight’s big event: Indoor Marshmallow Roasting.

Mack called my cell while I was grocery shopping- “Dad, we need marshmallows. Don’t ask questions just get them and hurry home” (click) (dial tone).  Thinking Connie needed marshmallows to plug a sucking chest wound I grabbed them and sped home well beyond the posted speed limit.

When I crashed through the front door, I found out that Mack had worked a deal to roast some marshmallows after dinner. Since it is too cold to do it outside, their plan was to juice up the old fire place and roast them in our living room.

I’ve seen the children roast these damn things before. Inevitably they catch them on fire and then dance around with reckless abandon like a couple of cannibals in the midst of a ritualistic beheading.

I don’t think the odds are in our favor of surviving this adventure without the aid of a fire extinguisher and a motivated group of firemen.