I spent over a year alongside Marines while I was in the Navy, and gained much respect for who they are and what they do. Found this while cleaning out some old text files, probably something I copied from back then.
WHAT IS A MARINE?
The United States Marine is over two hundred and twenty years of death and destruction. We are the finest fighting force this world has ever known. I was born in a foxhole. My mother is anger and my father is pain. Each moment that I live is an additional threat upon your life. I’m a rough looking, tough talking soldier of the sea. I’m cocky, self-centered, overbearing, and I do not know the meaning of fear, for I am fear itself. I am a green amphibious monster made of blood and guts, who arose from the sea to prey upon enemies across the globe. I feed upon anti-Americanism whenever it may arise – my hate makes me grow stronger. And when my time comes, I will die a glorious death on the battlefield, giving my life to Mom, the Corps, and the American flag. We live like soldiers, talk like sailors, and slap the crap out of both. We stole the eagle from the Air Force, the anchor from the Navy, and the rope from the Army. On the seventh day, while God rested, we overran his perimeter, “borrowed” the globe, and we’be been running the show ever since. Killer by day, lover by night, drunkard by choice,
MARINE BY GOD!!!
“Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they’ve made a difference to this world. The Marines don’t have that problem.” -President Ronald Reagan, 1985
Part of doing a possession purge is sorting what you’re going to keep from what you’re getting rid of. This process can be pretty painful for most Americans. One thing that makes the process easier is to place your possessions into categories based on function. Doing this also makes it easier to store the stuff you’re going to keep.
Before I left Boulder for Provo, I took a hard look at the functional areas of my life I wanted to maintain, and created bins or boxes for each functional theme. Some of these items overlaps, such as cooking essentials for me overlaps with camping gear, which also overlaps with Burning Man stuff. Here are the bins, boxes, and bags I ended up with:
- Burning Man
- Kitchen essentials
- Computing/office stuff
- Seasonal clothing
- Regular clothing
- Skating and workout gear
With this procedure, I whittled stuff down to a point where I could fit everything I own underneath a very large kitchen table. But, of course, that wasn’t enough for me. I ended up leaving the Burning Man box (mostly costume and blinky stuff) at the Salvation Army, and broke the computing/office box into two: A large pile and a small pile. The small pile consists of stuff I literally use every day for business, and most of it sits out on my desk or in small drawer. The big pile, however, went into a box, got taped up, and the date slapped on it. The x-month rule will apply to that box: If I don’t need to open for whatever number of months, then the whole box gets donated. This is an effective strategy for seeing what you do and don’t need for real life.
Since this entire process for me revolves around the idea that I want to move to another country, it’s also important to me to create a minimums list for what I will take with me across the pond. This list changes constantly, but by at least thinking about it occasionally and putting it in writing before I travel, it makes me tweak the list so that I’m not taking too much, nor missing anything, by the time I actually leave.
Here is the current list:
- Wide brimmed REI “safari” hat
- Under Armour base layers
- Keens and a couple pairs of cotton socks
- Figure skates, skate socks, shooting gloves
- Long underwear bottoms, REI Adventurer pants, light wind pants (which double as my skating pants)
- Long sleeve Under Armour Heat Gear shirt, GoLite long sleeve shirt, Marmot Ion jacket, North Face polar fleece jacket
- Laptop, iPhone, earbuds, chargers
- Folding travel toothbrush, razor, chapstick, nylon swim trunks, MSR pack towel
- Nalgene bottle, roll of paracord, silk travel sheets, and a Mylar emergency bivy
Everything on this list fits into a carry on, which is as heavy as I want to travel internationally. Some destinations will require that I check my skates, because they consider the blades to be dangerous weapons, apparently. That is an issue I have yet to figure out how to deal with, because I don’t want to travel with two bags.
Since being in Provo, I’ve had a difficult time with further purging. I’m by no means at a minimum, but I’ve reached a point where I’m almost afraid to get rid of more stuff. My “regular clothing” all fits into one small gym bag, believe it or not, but the gigantic duffel bag full of snarky t-shirts, dress clothes, etc. I just can’t bring myself to ditch. Same with my tools, most of which I don’t need (e.g., the motorcycle is currently at a mechanic being worked on — sure don’t need all my motorcycle tools when somebody else is doing the work). Maybe it’s a guy thing — I need my tools to feel like a man or something.
At this point, I do try to keep in mind what I’ll do with an object later on before buying it. I’ve avoided buying a small fridge and microwave for my office, because I left both of those behind in Boulder and know that I’ll just end up donating them somewhere. I did buy a bicycle, but I justified it because there’s no point in firing up the motorcycle for 90% of the places I go in Provo, and I’ll use it at Burning Man.
I’m open to further purge suggestions and criteria. Do I really need the Army cot? No, because I never use it. But, but, but….
Since I eat out so much, I’ve decided to start writing formal restaurant reviews. First on the chopping block: Spark Lounge in Provo.
I start with Spark simply because it was the physically closest place to my new office smack dab downtown Provo. When I first walked in to Spark, it instantly reminded me of the bar/lounge I went to for a speed dating event my first night in Sydney, Australia. The place was nice, with a nearly all-black industrial/warehouse look going on inside, with the stained, bare concrete floor and open ceiling showing all the overhead mechanical workings. This look has become quite popular lately in restaurant design.
The core of what Spark offers is a mixology-style array of drink concoctions, but which are non-alcoholic. I had an ‘Ox Blood’ – Red Bull with orange puree and cucumber. It wasn’t fruity at all, had a pleasant taste, and the mix killed the tart taste of Red Bull, but it still had some pizazz.
For an appetizer, I ordered the pineapple soup, which was light, but flavorful and with a smooth texture. It had a perfect hint of pineapple, but not overpowering, which I think would have been weird for a soup. There were small minced chunks of vegetables, which added to the flavor, but not the bulk so much.
For dinner, I ordered the Chicken & Smoked Gouda Macaroni & Cheese. Yes, mac and cheese.This was actually a disappointing dish. It wasn’t nearly as cheesy as most people would want, it was overly oniony, and the chef actually forgot the chicken. The waiter brought the chicken out seperately, and it was bland, dry, and tough.
All in all, Spark was OK. I’ll go back, but won’t order the chicken again. I think it’d be a good place for a fancier date, but I won’t just go by myself.
I enjoy observing other humans. It’s a hobby. Usually, an amusing hobby.
Tonight, for dinner, I chose to dip into something different. OK, it’s something I dip into a lot, but never by myself. I’ve been craving Melting Pot for a long time, so I threw social norms to the wind and just went by myself.
They stuck in a fairly “intimate” corner of the second floor, at a table for two. It was a bit awkward, but I was hungry. Nearby, there was a couple that was obviously on what I can only hope was a first (and last) date. I’ll refer to this guy frequently as Douche #1. Halfway through my dinner, a second couple showed up and was seated at the table behind them, but facing towards me. I’ll refer to this guy as Douche #2.
Based on my observations of these two douches tonight, and adding past douchey dating observations, I hereby present my Ten Step Guide to Douchey Dating For Men. Doing everything listed here is all but guaranteed to ensure your success with very special women.
1. Never let the woman speak. Ever. Women have no original thoughts to add to a conversation, and they are genuinely interested in every stupid thing you make up in an effort to get in their pants.
2. Speaking of making stuff up, be sure to add as much embelishment to every truth, half-truth, or no-truth story you tell. Be sure to add in as many outrageous tales of events in foreign countries as you can, and be sure to express how much of an expert you are on every subject imaginable.
3. If the woman rudely interrupts you, say, while you take a long pull on your 12th drink of the evening, be sure to slam your glass down and interrupt her back by CALLING HER OUT on her interrupting you.
4. Women don’t know what they like, and need you to think for them. Do not allow her to look at a menu, and be sure to ask your server extremely intelligent sounding questions to make it sound as if you actually know something about the style of cuisine in question.
5. If your date is not paying attention to you, but rather something else (such as reading the book she carried in her purse and pulled out while you went to the loo), then be sure to bring her attention back to yourself by physically strong arming the offending object from her grasp.
6. If your date starts to gripe about anything, remind her of her place, and tell her that she is the one that is lucky enough to be out with you, since you could apparently be hunting ibex in the far south coastal area of Italy this weekend instead of being with her
7. Be sure to mention your ex as often as possible. Women are incredibly turned on by hearing about your exploits with prior girlfriends.
8. A first date is an excellent opportunity to discuss your personal prejudices against various ethnicities, and to explain your viewpoint about why these other ethnicities are holding back white students in our public schools.
9. Tell dirty jokes. Several of them. Every girl will want to go home with you if you tell her the one about the donkey, the midget, and the Catholic priest. Absolutely, positively nothing can go wrong from telling that joke — it is a surefire winner, every time!
10. If you really want to impress the girl, pull the “I forgot my wallet” bit and make her pick up the check. This will firmly establish your dominance as a real man and ensure a second date.
So there you have it. Follow these 10 simple steps and you’ll be amazed at all the woman just throwing themselves at you!
And yes, everything here is based on actual observations in the past couple years.
[Factual note: Ibex are native to mountainous regions, such as Northern Italy, not coastal lowlands.]
Dear recent high school graduate:
The necessity and urgency in attending college is one of the greatest frauds perpetuated upon our youth over the course of the past 30 or 40 years. Your parents, teachers, “guidance” counselors, and every other adult authority figure in your life has, more likely than not, been feeding you the same line of B.S. your entire life: “In order to achieve anything or become anybody, you HAVE to go to college straight out of high school.”
This was originally just going to be a Facebook status message, but it’s too important of a subject to cram into 420 characters. Teachers, professors, academics of any sort, are all going to hate me for the message I’m writing to you, but I don’t care, because YOU need to hear this.
If you are one of the millions of 17 or 18 year olds that recently graduated high school, you can probably recite countless reasons why you SHOULD go to college. Yes, individuals with a Bachelor’s degree earn, on average, double the income over the course of their 40 year working life than people with just a high school diploma. Blah blah blah. Money ain’t everything. In fact, it’s the least important thing. But, if your goal is to become a millionaire, getting a degree so you can work for somebody else is the absolute WRONG thing to do — over 2/3 of American self-made millionaires did it by being self-employed, NOT working for somebody else.
There is one, and only one, group of high school graduates that should jump straight into college, and that group has to meet two critieria. One, you need to be absolutely, 100% positive that what you are going to study in college is truly what you want to do with the rest of your life, and you have no other interests, ambitions, or motivations. Second, that career has to REQUIRE a college degree in order to work in the field due ONLY to state or Federal licensing requirements or because of extremely specialized knowledge. The career fields that meet this second criteria are far fewer than you think. If you want to be a physician, attorney, engineer, or nuclear research physicist, then yes, you have to go to college. If you want to simply work in the general field of healthcare, want to work in the broad arena of the legal field, want to get your hands dirty on new aerospace vehicles, or want to work in a nuclear power plant, then NO, you don’t need a college degree. Period. End of story. Anybody telling you something different is either an idiot or a liar. Will it help you get a job interview? Yes. Needed? No.
So with that said, let’s talk about the 99% of you that honestly don’t have a freaking clue what you want to do with your lives. You might think you know what you want to be doing 5 or 10 years from now, but I’d put money on it that in the next few years that will change, or you’ll come to the realization that you have no idea what you want. That, dear readers, is the real world.
But see, there’s an interesting thing about the real world: There’s more than one. You, as an individual, have the ability to create your own reality. You can change your circumstances, your surroundings, your situation. And it’s really not that hard. There’s nothing that says you have to become the same things your parents were, or live the same lifestyle, or get dragged down into the same 9-5 drudgery.
You’re 18, heading off into the world. What do you want that world to look like? What do you want to experience in that world? What is it you want out of life? Especially considering the fact that you just spent twelve straight years already in school…Is that really what you want to keep doing, without even a break?
In most European countries, it is expected that young adults will take a break from studies for at least a year before going to university. They call it a “gap year”, and the idea is that they get out and see the world, broaden their experience base, and discover new interests and talents. This experience, in all reality, makes them into better adults in the long run, and helps them to see alternative viewpoints. It also helps guide them towards making a more informed career decision. Somebody that left London wanting to be civil litigation attorney and make big bucks may discover that his or her intelligence is best served coming back in 8 years to some small village in Thailand that is desperately in need of a local doctor. Or that person without much interest in formal education but with great mechanical aptitude may come back wanting to go to college to become an engineer to develop better water purification technologies for deployment to lands without much fresh water. The point is that many things can happen.
Let me tell you the story of two girls I know from figure skating. Chances are at least one of them is going to read this, and I hope they both do. They’re both great kids, smart, well liked, etc. Really, the kind of people that could most likely succeed in anything they chose to do.
First, let’s meet Amber (hi Ambers!!!). Amber is getting ready to head off to university in Arizona in about two weeks or so. She’s going to be studying Elementary Education, with a minor in Japanese. Why Japanese? Because she studied it all through high school and is fascinated by the people and the culture. Amber actually really would like to go spend some time in Japan, and keeps saying she’ll do it AFTER college? I don’t know the percentage of people that actually do something like that after college when they say they want to, but I’m willing to bet it’s incredibly low, given the pressure to find a job and make money after graduation to pay off all those student loans.
I’m getting ready to go to Japan myself for a few months, and she’s joked about wanting to come. I don’t think she’s joking — I think she really wants to go. Why isn’t she? I really don’t know. Parental pressure? The fact that her boyfriend is going to school in Arizona, also? She has an awesome boyfriend, and they’ve been together for over a year and a half — their relationship isn’t going to evaporate if she delays entry by even one semester to go to Japan. So why doesn’t she take a break and just GO? I know it’s not financial. I really wish I could understand it, because my fear is that if she doesn’t go now, she never will — it’s just sort of what happens when life gets going on around you.
Next, let’s talk about Stephanie. I don’t know Steph as well as I do Amber, but I know this much. Earlier in the summer, she was debating what to do after high school. She had been accepted to an in-state university that she was interested in going to, but when I talked to her about it, she wasn’t too excited about it. And, unlike a lot of figure skaters that burn out on skating and don’t really want to keep doing it after high school, she actually still has a passion for the sport. She’s senior tested, was a pretty good competitive skater, but everybody will acknowledge that her real self comes out not when she’s competing, but when she’s performing, and she knew that, too. She toyed with the idea of going off and doing ice shows, and she recently submitted her video audition to a company that does an ice show tour across Europe. Suddenly, college became her backup plan instead of her primary plan, and I think that’s AWESOME. Sure as hell beats sitting in a lecture hall, ugh.
So, is there something you’d rather do than go to college? I’m willing to bet that there is. DO IT! For crying out loud, DO IT! It doesn’t even matter what it is, just go do it.
Were you a successful team sport athlete in high school, but didn’t get recruited by a school? SO WHAT!! Did you know that NFL and NBA free agent rookie tryouts are going on right now? Did you know that Pony League and A level minor league baseball teams will pretty much let a player show up and try out just about any time of the year except during their playoffs? Did you know that minor league hockey teams will hire players off the street? Pick a team and show up dressed down for a tryout. GO!
Is your passion up in the clouds??? Did you know that it’s just as easy to get a student loan to cover the $95,000 to attend ATP or another big commercial flight school as it is to get the $10,000 student loan to cover your freshman year at college? Go FLY!
Are you passionate about art, writing, or some other creative talent? Don’t go to art school, don’t get a fine arts degree, don’t get an English degree. Just paint, or write, or whatever you. The degree doesn’t make you a writer — writing makes you a writer! I’ve written several books and recorded over 200 CDs, and I have no professional training in either arena, and I’ve made a living off selling what I wrote and recorded. You don’t need an MFA to get your paintings into a gallery — YOU get them into the gallery, by showing up and coming to terms with the gallery owner on a deal to get your work displayed and sold. Writer? You can self-publish a book and get it listed (and copies sold!) on Amazon for about $10.
Are you clueless about what you want to do, but just want to get AWAY, travel, see the world? Then do it! You would not believe the places you can go, and get a working holiday visa to allow you to do a little work to make money along the way, as long as you are between the ages of 18 and 30. This, this right here, is what I *want* to be doing right now, but I can’t….because I’m 32. And while I think that totally blows, it is what it is. But you…you’re 18! Take your savings and blow it on a one way ticket to some country you want to explore that will let an 18 year old get a working holiday visa.
Hey Amber…Japan is one of those countries, and there is a Japanese Consulate office in Denver. The visa application fee for you is FREE.
Do you want to be of service to your fellow human beings? Volunteer with your church humanitarian program or missionary program, join AmeriCorps, Peace Corps. Volunteer in southeast Asia — their are non-profit organizations up the wazoo that need your help, and some will even pay your airfare.
Are you environmentally oriented? Go to South America, Hawaii, really anywhere, and help protect wetlands, save species. Heck, you don’t have to leave your own area. Here in Colorado, there are numerous organizations you can spend months or years working with to help protect mountain tundra, maintain trails so people don’t destroy other areas, do climate research, study really cool animals, and more.
Kind of a hippie sort of person? Hook up with the Rainbow Gathering, find a commune somewhere, or go to Australia and live on an organic farm for free in exchange for labor and learn how to live off the land with some really cool people in a great cultural environment.
On the other end of the spectrum, are you super patriotic? Well, march your ass down to the recruiting office and there’s somebody that would be very, very excited to talk to you about career opportunities. The U.S. Navy owned me for 6 years, and I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. You go interesting places, meet interesting people, experience things you never otherwise would. At the age of 18 or 19, you get placed fully in charge of multi-million (or even multi-billion) dollar pieces of advanced technology that most people never even get to see. You get the satisfaction of knowing you did something that other people won’t do, which is defend our Constitution and our way of life, and in some cases defend others from tyranny and oppression that they could not defend themselves against. If you want to be in healthcare, you can do that. You can help save lives in a variety of ways.
Of course, there’s the other aspect of the military, too. Are you looking for the most rigorous physical and mental challenge you can find in the world? Are you psychotic and just want to kill people? Are you a pyro and just wanna blow stuff up? Do you derive satisfaction from hitting a target half a mile away? Well trust me, there’s a job just for you in somewhere in the military. If you’re tough enough, try out for BUD/S (Navy SEAL training). Become a Marine or Army sniper. Wanna go Mach 3? The Air Force or Navy might have something you’re interested in.
Is business your passion? Then just go start your business, whatever it is. You do NOT need a business degree to be a business owner. You can learn everything you need to know about the legal and tax crap of running a business from any number of good, comprehensive books out there. Heck, “Running a Small Business For Dummies” is really all you need. Don’t wait for permission from society to become a business success: Just go do it yourself.
Basically, I think you get the point. You’re young — get out and do something interesting. Do something you want to do. Don’t just sit in a room full of other drones getting fed the lines of crap that academia wants to feed you. Our society as a whole is structured to create automatons that become slaves to their jobs, because they need the job to buy the crap that society says you need to buy, and college is usually what gets you that job.
Don’t become just another robot. Make your own path in life, and you’ll find what truly makes you happy. If that involves college at some point, then fine. But if not, that’s perfectly fine, too. You can be a productive member of society without ever stepping foot in a classroom.
I don’t expect my little rant here to change the minds of very many of you heading off to college. But if I can somehow encourage even one person that was on the fence about their life and help them to become a better, happier person by doing what they want to do, then I’ve accomplished what I wanted to accomplish.
P.S. In case you were wondering, yes, I have a Bachelor’s degree (in nuclear engineering technology). It took me 8 years to finish, and by the time I finished it, I had already left the profession that my degree would have “allowed” me to work in. I have also gone literally half-way through two different Master’s programs (radiochemistry and space science), without finishing either one, and am about to return to school to obtain a graduate certificate in sports management. By profession, I am currently an IRS licensed Enrolled Agent, and negotiate tax debt resolutions with the IRS on behalf of small business clients, and I make a pretty good living doing it. See how none of these things have anything to do with each other? It’s quite intentional, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.