Archive for the ‘Shane’s luck’ Category

Not so friendly skies…

October 10, 2009



I’ve been traveling a lot with my new job and I’ve come to realize that I don’t enjoy air travel very much.  It’s not that I’m afraid my plane will fall from the sky.   In fact, I’m pretty sure that I’m more likely to win the lottery than explode in mid-flight.  It’s all the other stuff that goes along with traveling the friendly skies that really puts me over the edge.  For example…


While waiting in the airport to board my flight to Reno a couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of watching a 2-year old little boy completely lose his mind.  Being a father of two, I understand that “shit” happens and sometimes your kids revert back to “lord of the flies” type behavior regardless of your parenting skill level.  But what I witnessed in the terminal was far from the normal two-year old temper tantrum.  What I was watching was a child who had completely lost his little mind and was so far off the reservation that there was no way he was ever going to find his way back.


To begin with he was screaming at the top of his lungs and crying uncontrollably- that in itself- no big deal,  But this little bundle of joy was taking it to the next level.  He was sprinting from place to place tackling peoples “single roll-on and personal carry-on items” (that’s all the airlines will allow- if you have traveled lately it will make perfect sense).  I stared in utter amazement as he assaulted some poor guy’s computer bag like a Division 1 linebacker.  I think the owner was as amazed as I was because he damn near spit out the $12 latte he was sipping.  After decimating the lap top he moved over to an orange, hard-shelled roller bag and began to kick it mercilessly to the chagrin of the elderly woman who was still gripping the telescoping handle.  I know what you’re thinking why didn’t someone correct the little maniac and end his reign of terror?  The simple answer is that in our society it’s taboo to correct another person’s child.  To do so could potentially lead to a law suit and an enduring relationship with the child as you pay his/her way through college.


The bigger question is- where was this kid’s parents?  The answer- sitting on the side lines doing macramé watching the collective mood of Gate 21 plummet into the crapper.   That’s right I said macramé, they had a bag of hemp twine and wooden beads and they appeared to be making a decorative plant hanger.  They were easy to pick out because they were the only ones whose mouths weren’t gaping open with a look of complete distain in their eyes.  


Finally, the father stood up, slipped on his “Jesus Creepers”, adjusted his pony tail and walked over to his boy.  I was pretty shocked.   I’ve read about “flower children” or “Hippies” (what ever you want to call them) but I had never seen one in the wild and this dude and his wife were the genuine article.  They looked like they just came down from a week long acid trip at Woodstock and were flying back to their wilderness commune.  I think he called his boy, “Moon-Beam” or “Orbit-Zoom” or something like that- it was definitely astronomy related.  I personally think “Godzilla” would have been more appropriate considering the amount  of damage he was doing.


You’re probably wondering if Mr. Granola-bar was angry.  Did he speak sternly to his hell raising child?  Did he even consider counting him down, putting him in time out or any other parenting measure that we, as responsible parents, employ to convince others that we do in fact, have some sort of control over our offspring?  The answer to all of these is NO!  He simply smiled and in a hushed, calm, pathetic tone asked the boy if he was ready to get on the plane. 


Are you friggin kidding me?  That’s it?  Holy Shit, my head would have spun around backwards and fire would have shot out of my eyes if my boys were carrying on as poorly as “Rainbow-Bright”.  But that was it, not even a meager attempt to correct his son’s behavior.  Instantly, the ugly dagger of loathing that had been building among the future passengers of United flight 752 found a target- and his name was Mr. Granola.


At this point I had to turn away because all that I could think about was the poor kid was going to face some major challenges through his formative years.  It was then that it hit me.  There were approximately 250 people waiting to board my plane.  The plane had 38 rows of seats, 7 seats per row- that’s a pretty booked flight.  In a moment of panic I began to wonder if God hated me enough to place me within close proximity of Charlie Manson and his kin folk?  Come to find out- yes he did.


As I neared my seat the realization that I was going to spend the next four hours nestled neatly between Mr. and Mrs. Granola came to fruition.  I almost threw up. 


How I survived is a story for another day… 



If you know me at all you know that I have a strong affection (probably slightly unhealthy) for Carlo Rossi Wine. I’m very sincere- I absolutely love coming home and pouring a glass of Carlo’s classic Burgundy to take the edge of my day. I’ve even been known to splurge occasionally and purchase a jug of Carl’s “Reserve Merlot“- but only on those days deserving of special recognition. The reserve vintages are not something I indulge in routinely as once your taste buds grow accustomed to something so perfectly balanced it’s almost impossible to accept anything less- besides I don’t want people to think that I’m a “wine snob”.

I preach the virtues off Carlo’s products but I am in no way officially affiliated with this pioneering Wine Czar- I am nothing more than a loyal consumer. I’m just a hard working guy who discovered the joy which resides within the screw-topped, 5-gallon jug- easily located in your grocer’s tasty beverage aisle. Truth be told it was Connie who introduced me to this palate pleasing delight early on in our marriage. Way back then we didn’t have two nickels to rub together- but luckily you could get ten gallons of Carlo for the one nickel that you did have. Seventeen years later we could probably afford to move up to something more fitting of our socio-economic status (possibly something that comes with a cork for instance)- but I’m a loyal creature of habit and I’m not about to abandon the guy responsible for so much joy over the years. Connie on the other hand has lost her way and moved on to other less prolific alcoholic beverages. Not sure what happened to her? One day she announced that the jug of Carl on our kitchen counter had gone bad (how one could tell that a jug of Carlo had gone bad is beyond me). She exclaimed that it tasted like vinegar and proceeded to pour it down the drain; the same thing occurred with the next jug and the one after that. Come to find out it wasn’t the Carlo that went bad, it was Connie’s taste buds. They had revolted and would no longer willingly accept the staple wine that had graced our home for so many years. I however remained faithful to Earnest and Julio and all the fine products that they lovingly produce in their vineyards- besides you can grow accustomed to the taste of just about anything (to include vinegar)- I‘m living proof.

Now that you have the background and I’ve openly proclaimed my admiration- it is with great excitement that I announce that Carl himself has been surfing my Blog. Well maybe not Carlo himself, but definitely his vineyard henchmen. I know this because one day as I checked my stat counter I saw several hits from none other than E&J Vineyards (aka Earnest and Julio). Holy Shit! I felt as if I just met Elvis in the Tupperware aisle at Target. I was honored, but perplexed- why would Carlo be interested in me?

My initial thoughts were that E&J liked what I had to say about their products so much that they were looking to bring me into the fold. Could you imagine? Shane Groah National Carlo Rossi Spokesman Extraordinaire. Or maybe they would ask me to represent E&J at international wine tasting events. I obviously have a sophisticated palette and in-depth experience/ knowledge of fine wines- I‘m a shoe-in. Then there is always the possibility of endorsement deals. I envision a Carlo Rossi summer clothing line; a cook book; a Carlo “Musk Body Spray” perhaps? The possibilities are endless- who knows maybe with a little luck Carl and I could venture into reality television. After all you really don’t need any real depth of subject matter to capture an audience in the reality TV genre. As you can see I’ve got a lot of brilliant ideas to improve sales and increase Carlo consumption in untouched consumer markets. I could be a force multiplier Carl. Roll the dice, take a chance, have your people call my people and we’ll do lunch. This close to retirement it’s encouraging to think that my next career could involve something I’m so passionate about. A guy can dream right?

But then I thought what if I’m wrong? What if the “Carl” is displeased with me and his henchman are stalking me to ensure I don’t say anything damaging about their leader. Maybe they’re more like CIA than smiling, barefooted, grape-smashing wine makers. Panicked, I searched my Blog to ensure I didn’t say anything really negative and luckily all came back in Carlo’s favor. I have no desire to bite the hand that feeds me. Someone as mighty as Carlo Rossi could easily crush me like one of the many grapes that thrive across his landscape or worse yet he could turn off the eternal spring of delicious cheap wine that helps me relax after a tough day of making decisions that impact the very fabric of our nation (jest). A “Carlo-Embargo” if you will. How friggin cruel would that be?

I know that these to possibilities seem pretty extreme- but situations involving the “Shane” rarely develop in the relative safety of the “middle ground”. I’m either going to be the next Carlo Rossi Super Hero or his henchman are waiting outside my door ready to work me over for being a smart ass. Hmmm, smart ass… sounds like a potential plot line for that reality show I was talking about…

Sarcasm- a form of irony that is bitter or cutting, being intended to taunt its target. (Wikipedia, 2009)


I am the Law…

April 5, 2009

I think I figured out what I want to do with my life after I retire from the Marine Corps. I haven’t completely thought this out so I may be lacking all the details required to make it happen and this may seem slightly directionless but I think the idea has merit so bear with me.

I’ve decided that I want to be a judge.

Now granted I don’t have a law degree nor do I possess a solid understanding of our judicial process, but then again neither do most of our elected officials- besides I think that if I specialize none of that will matter anyway. I’ve decided to sit in judgment of all those celebrities that have gone astray of the law.

For these cases I don’t really need a law degree or years of experience. Most celebrity cases are cut and dry- I’m prepared to provide some examples. As I rode the metro into work the other day I read the free newspaper that they so graciously distribute to prevent people from making eye contact with each other. In this brief 20-page periodical I found several legal cases that I could wrap up quite easily in the matter of minutes. The way I look at it if I received a salary equal to a ¼ of the estimated cost of a long drawn out legal battle I could save the public hundreds of thousands of dollars- and still afford to send the manimals to college.

Here are the types of cases I would adjudicate- keep in mind this is one day’s worth of offenders taken from a reputable newspaper.

Matt Dillon is arrested for driving 106 miles per hour. He didn’t do this on the Daytona speed way- nope he reached speeds in excess of 100 mph on the same roads that school buses travel when delivering your kids to their classrooms each day. He was charged with speeding (obviously) and reckless operation of a motor vehicle (just as obvious). My man Matt, pleaded guilty, no shit- you‘re busted take it on the chin like a man. But get this, he pleaded guilty on the condition that they drop the reckless operation of a motor vehicle charge. HOLY SHIT! Are you kidding me? The only thing that could have made this more reckless is if he had been beer bonging Mohito’s as he drove through a school zone. This idiot was driving over 100 MPH what about that doesn’t scream reckless? His punishment for endangering all us common folk- $800.00 in fines- how poor Matty will pay the bills this month is a mystery.

My first motion as the new Supreme Judge of Stupid Celebrity Antics would be to fire everyone that was in court room that day, granted Matt probably wasn’t there- people of his level of importance routinely send a proxy to answer for their mistakes. My next motion would be to uphold the speeding and reckless operation charges-but then add a vagrant stupidity and arrogance charge. My additional charge carries a minimum 10 year prison term- and it isn’t in some cushy country club of a prison either. Mr. Dillon this is Bubba he’ll be your new cell mate- Bubba meet Mr. Dillon, he’s an actor…

Next up, Andre 3000, of the Grammy award winning music group Outkast.

 I would give him ten additional years for the outfit alone

Mr. 3000 was driving 109 MPH in a 65 MPH zone. When stopped by police he told them he was speeding because he “missed his turn“. I’m stunned they didn’t immediately release him when he articulated this exceptionally logical explanation for breaking the sound barrier, after all everyone knows how quickly turn lanes disappear when you pass them up. Good god, that lane was probably long gone by the time he finally got done pleading with the authorities- he should sue them for making him miss it. BTW quick thinking Mr. 3000, I would have come up with something much more lame like… oh, I don‘t know how about- my hair was on fire and I was trying to put it out with g-force winds. Maybe I am good at this?

Sentencing. You obviously like the number 3,000- so here are a few things that begin with your favorite number: 3,000 hours of community service, after you serve 3,000 days in jail and donate 3,000 dollars to every charity I can think of. That should just about do it.

Dante Stallworth of the Cleveland Browns was recently charged with vehicular manslaughter complicated by a DUI charge. I can’t think of a single funny thing to say about this. All the newspaper wanted to discuss was how the Cleveland Browns didn’t rally around him in his time of need. Seriously? I think the Brown’s statement was the classiest thing I have heard from a professional sports team regarding charges of this nature. They simply said “we’re sorry that Mr. Stallworth put himself in such a horrible position” period.

Part of me wants to say “let the family of the victim beat him senseless with a tack hammer”- but that would be cruel and unusual and make me sound excessively violent. Instead I would opt to send him through the conventional judicial system- I don’t think even they could screw this one up- maybe I’m being naïve.

But I could handle this one. Katie Holmes spent over 40k on a makeover. A complete head transplant doesn‘t cost that much- what the hell did she have done? Unable to get my arms around how someone could spend more on a makeover than I did on our mini-van I attempted to gain some perspective. So yesterday morning I set out to make myself extra special handsome- I didn’t pull any punches I went all out.

I woke up at 0430, and went straight to the bathroom where I treated my tired pores to a refreshing exfoliation with a fresh bar of “Irish Spring-Aloe” ($.73). I then lathered up with shaving gel ($2.23) vice Barbasol foam- a good comparison would be drinking Crystal in lieu of Carlo Rossi (sorry Carlo you know I got love for you). I then shaved with a Gillette sensor- a completely reckless purchase. A 4-pack of replacement blades alone cost $13- I told you I spared no expense. Once my face was smooth and kissable I slathered on a heaping gob of Aqua Velva shaving lotion ($1.98). I flattened out that weird cowlick located on the top of my head with a dab of styling gel ($.11, approximately). I combed my hair but I all ready owned the comb. When I bought the comb back in the 90’s it was like $.75, but with all the other stuff I was lavishly treating myself too I figured I’d keep that out of the tally. I brushed my teeth, flossed and rinsed with Listerine (the good stuff, not a cheap knock off like Plax)- all said and done about $.80 worth of dental hygiene goods Off to work I went for the finishing touches. I arrived at the 5-sided circus tent and went straight to the barber. My 80-year old Korean barber obviously noticed that I was in top form- she smiled at me and said something intelligible. This is pretty normal but her tone told me she thought I was looking exceptionally “Hawt” that day. I asked her for the works, spare no expense; make me look like a screen idol. Six minutes later and my wallet $7.00 lighter I emerged from her chair looking more dapper than George Clooney on his best day. I was done- no way could I look any better than I did at that very moment. Lets tally up the damage.

$.73 + $2.23 + $13.00 + $1.98 + $.11 + $.80 + $7.00 = $25.85

Since I have my calculator out let me do a little more math- $40,000 – $25.85 = $39,974.15.

I have to wonder did Katie Holmes look $39k better than me after her “make-over”- I find it highly unlikely. This means that she needlessly wasted about 3-semesters worth of college tuition, a dozen house payments, or enough money to feed several impoverished African countries. I could have really put that money to work- but instead all of that cash was wasted to make sure that Ms. Holmes’s highlights matched her eyebrows perfectly. With the state of our national economy I take this type of frivolous spending very seriously, though I don’t believe she deserves a prison term. Instead I’ll simply sentence her to relinquish her wardrobe and grooming budget to help soften the National deficit. See I’m a kind and generous man.

I could really use some help from the public at large to lobby for my position- I think it’s appropriately placed within the Supreme Court. So write your elected officials and ask for them to support me- I don’t want a gap in pay checks. You saw how much money it took to get me looking good- to many more days like that and I’ll be broke.

The Groah’s have been sick a lot this winter. If my calculations are correct atleast one of us has been sick for the past 9 weeks. I was the most recent victim of the funk, starting last Friday. I’m happy to report that a week later I‘m finally starting to get over it. It’s times like these I feel really fortunate to be a Marine. Little known fact, Marines get sick- they’re just not allowed to act sick. It’s a really strange cultural norm. Even though it defies all logic getting sick does not earn you a single ounce of empathy in my line of work. So what ever you do, don‘t tell anyone- just go to work and act as if you feel fantastic. Your fellow Marines don’t care that you just brought a horrendous case of pink eye, influenza or black plague to work. What they’re more concerned with is that you demonstrated enough intestinal fortitude to walk through the door in the first place. Who cares if just infected every person in a 20-square mile radius- it only matters that you made the effort to do so.

This philosophy may be confusing to those of you who have never been in the Marine Corps but it makes perfect sense to those of us who have. Here is why- when you’re deployed to a foreign land and expected to interact with the indigenous population (who most likely harbor serious resentment towards you) it doesn‘t matter how you‘re feeling that day. Just like “no crying in baseball“- there are no sick days when you’re deployed, so you drive on. This attitude becomes so ingrained that it’s almost impossible to shut it off, and the next thing you know your pulling out your own I.V. so you won’t be late to work. For instance I recall one time when I was pretending not to have a god-awful case of exploding buttocks (that’s what Connie and I call diarrhea) and had to get to work. Work is a good hour and change away and when I timed how often my butt “blew-up” I knew it would be a hazardous commute. But I also knew that the Marine Corps probably wouldn’t survive if the “Shane” didn’t make it into work that day. So I sucked it up (not literally that would be friggin gross) and drove on. When I got home from work and Connie asked me why I risked it I told her- “Well, I figured if I shit my pants on the way to work then that’s the Marine Corps telling me to stay home- but I didn’t so obviously the Corps must have needed me today“. She says that‘s stupid- I call it MOTIVATED.

I tell you all of that to get to the point of how this mentality screws with my family (non-Marines). When they are sick or hurt they have no obligation to pretend that they’re feeling well. My boys let us know of every ache and pain, real or imagined, in amazingly vivid detail. Furthermore, if Mack or Cayden become ill they want the drugs that correspond to the affliction. They got this from Connie. One of the amazing things that Connie brought to our marriage was her extensive knowledge of over the counter medications. Until our union I had no idea that different medicines were designed to treat different symptoms- expectorants, decongestants, etcetera. There is even a medicine which helps reduce flatulence- I think it’s called “Beano” or “Gas-X“. Regardless of the name I don’t think the kids are taking it- they love every noise emanating from their butts and would never agree to willingly silence it. The point being, who would have thought that every thing that ailed you had a corresponding magic pill? When I was growing up you had two possible treatment plans when you didn‘t feel well. First and foremost my Mom would demand that you accomplish a bowel movement- until that magic happened you didn’t get any other type of medical care. For instance, when I was 13 I broke my arm and she made me poop before going to the emergency room- do you know how hard it is to wipe your ass with a broken arm? If you accomplished step one and were not completely cured she would break out the Tylenol (the only medication in my childhood home). But the thing is step one usually worked (except for broken bones) amazingly well- so when my boys complain about not feeling well they go straight to the crapper.

Back to how my mentality screws up my family. Since I’ve been groomed to act well even on my death bed my family has no idea when I’m ill and potentially contagious with some exotic funk. I’m basically a 200 pound germ meandering through our home infecting all who have the misfortune of coming in contact with me. I don’t mean any harm. I am not purposefully trying to spread whatever I have contracted it’s just that after 21-years of pretending that I’m not sick I’ve kind of come to believe it. Connie and the boys, however are not Marines and thus fallible to all those illnesses which I pretend bounce right off my impenetrable Marine immune system. So at the end of the day I’m probably the reason that my family has gone through almost three consecutive months of feeling like shit.

The way I look at it I can either admit my weaknesses and allow myself to act sick when in fact I am- thus providing a red flag to not to kiss Dad or drink from his water glass. Or, the rest of the family can enlist and earn their impenetrability the hard way. I’ll let you know what I come up with.

Dear Electric Company…

March 2, 2009

Good afternoon helpful Baltimore Gas and Electric customer service representative,

I hope you enjoyed the first big snow storm of the season as much as we did.  I would be remiss if I didn’t drop a quick note of thanks for helping us really understand just how miserable the cave people must have been when that nasty “ice-age” thing hit them.  I wonder what would have happened if their electric company- which probably consisted of a couple of dudes with some flint and kindling- failed to produce just as the storm really got kicking?  I bet that whole lack of heat and light thing would have really pissed them off as they attempted to entertain their hyper active cave-children without the aid of all the comforts they had come to rely on.  Of course, I can only guess how the whole scenario may have unfolded.  It’s not like I just spent the last 15 frigging hours trying to entertain my kids in a three thousand square foot colonial that felt as welcoming as a meat locker.

The thing that really warms my heart (which is the only piece of my body currently experiencing any warmth) is that I only have to spend about $600 a month to enjoy this thrill ride.  You folks should be charging way more, maybe even venture into some reality television-  I’ve seen “Man Versus  Wild” on the discovery channel it’s not too far of a reach.  In fact, I bet that punk would run and hide if he was faced with entertaining my two jokers for an afternoon without the aid of electronic stimuli.

But Connie and I did just fine.  Whenever we wanted to warm the boys up we simply sent them outside to stand in the drive way.  Let’s see what else did we do…hmmmm.  We played Yahtzee, Mack made a shotgun out of scraps of PVC pipe, Cayden played Nintendo DS (thanks Con for charging that thing), I bundled and unbundled the boys 17-times, we shoveled, we slid, we talked about how much it sucked to have no power.  To be honest, that whole bitching about not having power was how we spent the majority of our 15-hour caveman experience- all the other stuff took up about 45 minutes, do the math- a lot of bitching took place. 

Oh, and here is another thing that you may not be aware of- when you fail to provide me with the electricity that I spend gobs of money on every month, I can’t run water.  No big deal in terms of hydration-I have a 50-gallon drum of Carlo in my garage and if need be I’ll share with family and friends, but I can’t flush my toilets with Carlo.  That’s right we have a well, a pump and a water softener and all those devices run on the power you provide or (on occasion, like when we really need it) that you don’t provide.  The best part is that nothing gets my kids’ digestive juices flowing like the knowledge of knowing that the toilets can’t be flushed.  Within 20 minutes of the power going out, Mack had dropped a deuce in all three of the crappers in my house- we’re talking to the brim.  I had no idea the kid was capable of producing something so foul and in such great quantities.  The only thing that kept the smell from affixiating the rest of the family was that our home had dipped below freezing. 

So thank you for the experience- nothing brings a family closer than being brought to the brink of freezing to death in their own home.  I’ll cherish these 15 hours for the rest of my life and completely agree with you hiking up your rates last summer- for thrills like these I would willingly pay much more.

The best to you and yours.  A completely satisfied and content customer.

Happy Birthday- says who?

February 13, 2009
All of the happy, lighthearted people must have jobs that don’t require them to begin their commutes at five in the morning. I’m sitting on the metro and I don’t see a single person who would willingly point me in the direction of a garden hose should I burst into flames. I’m probably annoying them with the big stupid grin plastered to my face, but truth is, I love early mornings. If it wasn’t for evening family time, I would go to bed super early just so that I could wake up and drink coffee in the inky pre-dawn darkness. What can I say- I flat out dig the world at rest.

I view this eccentricity as yet another indication that I’m getting old. Now, I realize several of you will argue that turning 39 isn’t old, but you haven’t factored in years of Marine Corps service. Marines age similarly to dogs- every year you wear a tree suit, multiply by two. So that makes me about 60 and a hard living 60 at that. But it’s not just the actual number of years that tells me I’m approaching the top of the hill; there have been several other indications over the past few months as well.

For instance, I now own a pair of slippers. They’re not a cool pair of $90 Ugg‘s either. I’m sporting a pair with flannel lumberjack-patterned insoles. “Say hello to Grampa kids, but speak loudly his hearing shit the bed years ago“. This troubles me as I’ve never owned slippers. In fact until a few years ago I didn’t own jammies or any other night time comfort item- unless you count the occasional glass of Carlo. I was impervious to cold weather- you know the guy who amazes his neighbors by taking out the trash in the dead of winter wearing nothing more than a well worn pair of boxers. Now I have to bundle up just to convince my creaky-ass joints to get out from under the covers each morning. Obviously my blood is thinning and my circulation is slowing to a halt- that my friends is an undeniable sign of getting old.

Did I just mention creaky joints? I think I did but as I near 40 my memory seems to be failing me more and more. Oh Yeah, joints, which I’ll soon be smoking plenty of to ease my rheumatism. My joints don’t creak they scream. Twenty-one years of sleeping on the ground, humping a pack and wearing body armor have left me as crooked as a politician and as broken as our economy. My back and neck are riddled with arthritis and my knee caps and elbows float freely to and fro. But I’m hard headed and refuse to believe that this isn’t the same body I had in my late teens so I constantly test it just to see how jacked up I am. Here is a short list of thing I have tried in the past couple of months to prove my body is the same now as it was back then:

The worm- remember that fancy little break dance move form the 80’s? Yeah, I tried to show it to the boys one evening and all I could muster was laying on my stomach- I didn’t look like a worm I looked like a plank of wood yanked off an old barn door.

Sitting Indian Style (maybe I should say Native American style)- I told Connie I was going to try to get in this position and she called the paramedics before my butt hit the ground- good foresight, it took three full grown men and 6-percosets to get me off the floor.

Spinning in circles- Remember when you were a kid and you would spin in circles as fast as you could to get super dizzy- don’t try this as an adult. My spinning consisted of one fairly rapid 180 degree turn followed by a severe bout of nausea and confusion.

None of my tests worked out as I had planned- dead give away I’m getting old.

How about this one- I now wear glasses. I used to have bionic vision capable of amazing things. Now I have a pair of wire rimmed military issue spectacles strapped to my head so I can type a post about how old I’m getting- how ironic is that? I would imagine in the not so distant future I’ll need one off those helpful cell phones with the giant numbers so that I can punch in 911 when I slip and break my hip walking out of the Cracker Barrel or Bob Evans. Better yet, I wonder when my insurance will cover that snazzy emergency call button that alerts paramedics when I’ve fallen in the shower- you know what I’m talking about, “Help I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.” I‘veheard rumor that you can charge your IPOD with those things and that they double as a 4GB thumb drive when your not in the midst of a medical emergency- how useful. Speaking of insurance I got a no-shit letter from my insurance company last night wishing me a happy birthday and encouraging me to buy more life insurance. In what universe is that an appropriate birthday salutation? Happy Birthday Shane, you’re getting older make sure your family is taken care of before you kick the bucket! How friggin morbid is that? So instead of that anniversary “Matlock” box set I was thinking about I’m going to get an additional $14.99 worth of coverage and roll the dice.

My hearing is also shot but this was more of a consequence of shooting anti-tank rockets than an old age thing. Back in the mid-90’s they tried to convince me to consider hearing aids but my vanity would not allow it so I pretended not to hear them and walked out of the office. Maybe I should reconsider? With the way technology is today I could probably get some type of high speed space helmet that enhances all of my senses at once- I’d be like Spider Man only not so limber.

The last indication was the additional hair I seem to be sprouting in locations that should most likely remain hairless. What’s up with the extra hair follicles? I don’t strive to have an “Austin Powers” tuft of hair snugly nestled between my shoulder blades nor do I desire eyebrows that must be combed and gelled after a good gust of wind. Sure sign I turned one of life’s many corners was when my barber asked me if I wanted her to trim back my eyebrows. Holy shit woman that’s for old guys I’m just a kid, chill out with the brow clippers! Insulted, I pinned my eyebrows back away from my face and stormed out of her shop. It took me a week to come to grips with the realization that I would now have to fork over an additional $1.50 to keep my brows from intermingling with my “Magnum P.I.” chest hair- humiliating.

So there you have it a flattering look at an ageing guy. I know I’m not the only man going through this right now. I hang out with a crowd of dudes all about my age and we’re all faced with the same realization that we’re no longer 20 years old- but come to think of it when I was 20 I was as dumb as a wash cloth, what was so great about that? Maybe what I should do is just embrace the inevitable and age gracefully? Nope that doesn’t work either. I know, I’ll just bitch and moan a lot and tell people stories about what it was like when I was young- that’s a much better idea and it‘s the final indication that yes I‘m getting old..

Just a quick disclaimer before my Mom calls me up to yell at me:  I don’t really think I am old, because if I did that would mean that every single person older than I is really, really old.  And an insinuation like that my friends could make for a very lonely birthday.

Does this make me a doctor?

January 25, 2009

So not more than an hour after posting a piece on potty training, I get a lovely comment from the Colon Cleansing Institute of the Americas. If you have a dirty colon, you can visit these helpful folks at Isn’t that something- I never knew that someone grew up with the intention of becoming an authority on colon cleaning. That must go over like a lead balloon at their kid’s career day. So Johnny what does your dad do? Well Ms. Crabtree, my dad is a professional cleaner of colons and did you know that a bowel flush can increase your energy up to 100%? I’m sure Johnny’s friends will be amazed.

When I told Connie that the colon cleansing authority had left a comment she said that I had received spam. I don‘t consider it spam- I consider it an opportunity. So I went to their site and come to find out it’s a blog dedicated to providing you with the most current news on advances in general colon maintenance. This is some earth shattering shit (whoops I said shit, I probably just earned another comment). If you decide to venture to this blog you will not only learn to cleanse your colon- you can also learn lots of good stuff about bowel detox and parasitic nasties that live in your pipes. That my friends is some pleasant Sunday reading, dive right in- just do so after you’ve already eaten breakfast.

The colon cleansing blog claims to provide only quality information on the health and care of your colon. The funny thing is, when I hit the link and worked my way to the bottom of the page I found my post “I have some solid advice for you”. What do you know, I guess the path to a healthy colon begins with how well you‘ve mastered potty training.

(As a disclaimer I had no idea that my post would have such wide reaching implications. When I originally wrote it, I had no intentions of becoming a board member or contributing author to the Colon Authority’s website. Not sure if I should be proud or alarmed that somehow that’s exactly what I managed to do. I fear that my new found “Colon fame” will result in a flood of comments and emails from people desperately seeking sage advice on the general health and welfare of their digestive systems- to be honest I am a fraud when it comes to colon care and have nothing legitimate to offer them. Besides I have to wonder if these are the folks I want pilgrimaging to my web page- I can only imagine that, like their bowels, they’re probably quite irritable.)

When you’re Shane, you can expect at least one traumatic injury per year and sadly my annual injury due date is rapidly approaching. You may think that I’m being dramatic or embellishing the facts, but if you weigh the evidence it averages out to about one solid trip to the hospital per year (stitches don’t count/staples do). Over the last 20+ years, I have had some interesting boo-boos. I’ll provide a couple of examples to illustrate what it’s like to be me on an injury spree.

“I can work this out”…

In undergrad, I went to Gold’s Gym every day. One day I decided to see how much weight I could pick up over my head. I believed this to be an essential piece of information that every man should know. For example, if your spouse asked you to place a box of Triscuits on the top shelf of the pantry, it would be helpful to know if you possessed the physical strength to safely do so. Without knowing your one rep max for overhead presses, you would be unsure and that box of Triscuits could potentially cause great harm. So I loaded the bar with 205lbs, that’s a shitload of Triscuits, know what I mean?

A little lifting advice- when pushing large amounts of weight over your head, it is imperative that your head, neck and spine remain perfectly aligned. If you don’t, and the weight is heavy enough, the pressure can actually compress your spine and snap things that shouldn’t be snapped. You’re probably guessing where I am going with this.

I prepped the bar for my attempt, cleared my head, and went to work. Triumphantly, the weight rose to the heavens. I locked out my elbows to complete the perfectly executed repetition. As the weight hovered above, I turned my head ever so slightly to bask in the admiration of my fellow gym goers. Surely they would be marveling at my tremendous feat of strength. Wait a minute! I did say that you should keep your head, neck and spine aligned, right? Snap! The immediate sensation of someone jabbing a glowing, hot fireplace poker into my neck reminded me of my own advice. I racked the weight and quickly scanned the room to see if anyone else heard the unmistakable sound of a serious neck injury. To me, it was as loud as a rifle shot so I was kind of expecting to get some stares, maybe some “holy shit” action, potentially some calls for medical attention, but there was absolutely no reaction. Strange.

Now, it was highly probable that the noise I heard was the sound of some extensive damage to my spinal column, but there was also a chance, however slim, that it was just my imagination. Maybe what I really needed was a couple of sets to work out the kink in my neck. I chose that option and did a few sets to repair the damage (in what dimension is this logical thought?). It wasn’t until a few hours later as I lay on my living room floor racked with pain that I realized this wasn’t the most prudent choice. I’m happy to report that my neck is back to 100%- no issues- unless of course you count being unable to turn my head without rotating my entire torso an issue. If you consider that problematic, then it’s probably more like 90% better.

Fast forward a couple of years…

“Will you just leave them at home?”

Connie and I decided to vacation at the shore so we rented a beach house for the week. The only issue was that the beach house didn’t have a weight room so I had to provide my own. Connie refused to let me rent a trailer to haul all of my favorite stuff to the beach so I compromised and brought a single set of 40lb dumbbells. She thought I was stupid, “Honestly do you need to take those things with us on vacation?” I remember her saying that as I loaded the car.

How I managed to crush three discs in my lower back with a pair of 40lb dumbbells still remains a mystery, but somehow I did and the ensuing pain was unbelievable. By the time Connie got me to the hospital I could barely walk or stand- the best I could manage was to lean against a stanchion while they processed me into the ER. The rest is a fuzzy drug-induced blur, but I do remember praying- something like “Please, God, don’t make me have to poop”. My lower back was in so much pain I was terrified that if I pushed my ass would fall off. Later that night, as I lay in my hospital bed, I recalled Connie’s words and thought, “She’s really smart. I’m going to listen to her next time.”

Next time…

The following summer I was asked to train midshipmen in Quantico, Virginia. Being familiar with the area and the training schedule, I knew ahead of time that working out would be tough to accomplish. So, before departing our home, I went into my gym and looked at what I could take with me to help me stay in shape. I went straight to my 40lb dumbbells. I picked them up and was preparing to throw them in my truck when I remembered Connie’s words of wisdom. Last time Connie said something about not taking these things with me and I thought she was smart so I should probably leave them at home. I put them down and grabbed the 50 pounders instead- see Honey I do listen.

I made it the entire month without hurting myself. This was a major accomplishment and I couldn’t wait to get home and rub it in. I was planning on demanding that Connie apologize to my gym equipment for her unfounded assumption that my weights had some strange vendetta against me.

My buddy Chris drove me home that day in his giant truck. All of my gear, to include my 50lb dumbbells, was stowed neatly in the back seat. When he pulled into my driveway, I jumped out, opened the back door to retrieve my stuff and POW! For a second I lost my sense of hearing and a brilliant white hot flash of light obscured my vision. I involuntarily yanked my flip-flop clad foot backwards as fast as I could. The pain was in-friggin-credible. I’m betting that many of you have already figured out what happened. For those slow on the uptake, I’ll fill you in.

It seems that during the trip the load in the backseat shifted, to include my dumbbells. I was unaware of this, so when I opened the door, I was not expecting a 50lb dumbbell to plummet to earth and land on my nearly bare foot. All said and done it fell from a height of about three and a half feet, landing directly on all five toes. The fact that I was standing on the driveway didn’t help either as concrete is less than forgiving.

Chris had the benefit of watching the whole thing. In typical Marine fashion he demonstrated an adequate level of concern, “DUDE, HOLY SHIT THAT WAS THE COOLEST THING I’VE EVER SEEN, YOU DIDN’T EVEN SCREAM OR CRY OR NOTHING, HOLY SHIT!!! Hey, you okay?” All I could manage in response was a strange growl-like noise, or it may have been more like a high-pitched whimper, but growl sounds manlier.

I knew what had happened and simple math told me that 50lbs of cast iron dropped from 3.5 feet landing on bare toes , on concrete, meant no more toes. I had no desire to confirm my calculations so I simply kept my head up and waited for the pain to subside. Oh yeah, the pain- I’ve been asked to describe what it feels like to have this happen and the best description that I can come up with is to imagine having Zeus fire a lighting bolt from the heavens impacting squarely on your rectum, yep, I think that describes the pain pretty accurately. Chris offered to take me to the hospital but I told him no. I opted to hop to the bathroom for some alone time instead. As I hopped away, I turned to look at the ground behind me, half expecting to see my toes lying in the driveway. Surprisingly, the ground was void of any appendages. Maybe I was fine.

I mustered the nerve to look at my foot when I was alone and though my toes were all pointing in unnatural directions, at least they were all accounted for. I did some straightening and these days my toes look fairly normal, though I still wear socks at the pool so I don’t give the neighborhood kids night terrors.

That’s it for today. I rambled too long, but believe it or not I am not even close to the end of my list. I didn’t even broach the time one of my Marines accidentally blew my forearm off with a machine gun (yes, I’m serious). I do believe, however, that this lends credence to my fears that I am due for a catastrophic injury in the near future. Connie must believe it too as she has been wrapping every sharp object in the house with bubble wrap and this morning, when I walked down the stairs, I was greeted by a giant pile of Styrofoam packing peanuts. Silly woman, she’s been married to me for 16 years. When is she going to realize that this is the price I pay for being Shane? The pain is inevitable.

Well, gotta run- the gym’s closing in an hour and I want to get a quick lift in before dinner.

My poor truck.  Once again, while I, from the cushiony comfort of the “5-sided puzzle palace”, was busy protecting the American public , my truck was violated.  How’s that for unbelievable?  I couldn’t make this shit up if I tried.  Here’s what went down.  When I reached the 5th floor of the parking structure last night and saw my truck parked peacefully in its spot, I felt a surge of relief.  You see, ever since it got stolen the first time, I half expect it to be gone every time I get off work, but there it was right where I left it.

Smiling, I trotted over, hit my automatic door lock thingy and reached for the driver’s side door handle.  That’s when I noticed that some paint had been scraped off-that’s weird- hey look, the door lock’s punched out and the handle is broken- that’s even weirder, right?  When I peered through my window, I noticed that “The Club”, a purchase I made after the last theft, remained defiantly in place, snuggly affixed to my steering wheel. I took some pleasure in knowing that my $20 investment had done it’s job, but I was still a wee bit upset.  In fact, the langauge that spewed forth from my mouth was so heinous that it violates my own Blogger’s code of ethics so I won’t repeat them in print, but I can say that many of the terms I used closely resembled the words: truck, trucking and trucker.

The Mighty Club

The Mighty Club


I couldn’t open the driver’s side door so I went around to the passenger side and started to survey the inside of my truck for damage.  Luckily, the last group of ass-wipes who stole my truck took everything of value so the new group was shit out of luck.  Surprised, they didn’t steal my floor mats just to spite me.  Ha, that will show them- all that effort and nothing to show for it. I realize it’s a minor victory, but Shane doesn’t care about the size of the W, its always better than being in the loss column as far I’m concerned (not sure when I started talking about myself in the third person, must be a result of car theft-related PTSD).

So what’s next?  Well, I called up my insurance company (I have them on speed dial now and know most of them by their first names).  They were happy to hear from me.  It had been a whole week or so since I graced their emergency hotline and they were starting to believe that my luck had somehow turned around.  Maybe they don’t know me as well as I thought.  Next I’ll call my buddy Jason at the Dodge dealership- he’ll be happy to hear from me too.  I can’t believe all the good friends I’ve made as a result of repeatedly getting my car jacked.

To the thieves who want my car so bad- if you’re going to steal my truck, do it right, make the thing disappear. Don’t borrow it for a weekend or do just enough damage that I have to spend a month of Sundays getting it repaired.  Just drive the damn thing off into the sunset never to be heard from again. Like I’ve always said, a job worth doing is a job worth doing right.

Oh, one more thing- you can’t let shit like this ruin your day, it’s just a truck, C’est La Vie, Baby!- I crack myself up… not even I can believe I said that.

Hey I forgot to tell everyone that I got my truck back. Some of you may recall that my truck was stolen over a month ago while, from the relative safety of the Pentagon, I was busy protecting my country. It made for a heart-warming surprise when I got off the train that Friday evening only to discover my ride had been snatched.

Secretly, I had hoped that my truck would be disassembled and shipped overseas, thus completely unable to return to me with its giant gas-sucking motor, but alas, no joy. The police found my truck a couple days later abandoned and lonely in Southeast, DC. Everything that was not bolted down had been taken, but graciously, the band of thieves who ran off with “Big Red” decided to leave my collection of country music CDs. My guess is that they thought they were broken and not worth stealing. This theory is based on the fact that it looked like they tried to repair my CDs with some 100 grit sand paper and a cutting torch. None of my music could be salvaged, all of it had been maliciously destroyed. They did however leave me a pirated “Lil Wayne” album to make up for my loss. I googled that joker when I got home- shady looking fellow, looks like he ate a pie tin. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, google him for yourself when you’re done with this little glimpse into my life. The rest of my truck was in pretty good shape minus a missing steering column, miscellaneous bumps and bruises, and an ashtray full of cheap Swisher Sweet Cigars. So began the process of getting it back into top running shape, enter my insurance company and a really pleasant mechanic at the Dodge dealership.

So, my truck is back in my driveway, it’s running well, but I can’t help but look at it with contempt. You see, the minute I realized that my truck had been stolen, I started daydreaming of a really sweet Altima Coupe. Ahhhh the coupe, good (well better) on gas than my truck, plus I would look like a rock star driving it. Okay, maybe I wouldn’t look like a super cool rockstar. More than likely I would resemble every other almost-middle-aged guy driving a sporty, too small for his build, quasi-race car, but at least I wouldn’t have to endure those “you must be compensating for something” jokes that you get when you drive a giant truck.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I don’t like my truck. After all, what man wouldn’t want a vehicle that could actually tow his home out of a ditch if it were to ever veer off the road after hitting a patch of black ice? The problem is my home hasn’t left the foundation since I got here and I can’t think of anything else that’s worth towing. Wait a minute, Connie bought a very big boat this summer, that’s what I’ll tow! I don’t really like being a boat person, but if you own a giant gas guzzling vehicle in this economy you better have some way of justifying it. Come to think about it, if I leave the boat hitched to my truck all winter long I might avoid all those dirty looks from my eco-friendly neighbors who are constantly haranguing me to conserve, conserve, conserve. Connie’s sea creature may be more useful than I thought. Forget what I said about the coupe, I wonder if I can trade in my truck for a Hummer?