Sergeant Tony's Blog

TOKYO DRIFT — Sgt. Tony Ludlow’s blog post for 3/6/2013

Wednesday, Mar. 6th 2013 3:22 PM

“I’d like some pepper for my baked potato, please,” I said to the waitress in perfect Japanese, sitting in a restaurant in Tokyo.

Japanese is a hard language to learn. I mean, REAL hard!


In fact, linguists say that it’s the most difficult language for a native English speaker to learn. And I believe them. But I learned to speak Japanese anyway … because I’m an idiot.

OK, maybe “idiot” is a little too strong.

What’s a single word description for someone who isn’t afraid to look stupid in an effort to learn something?

Whatever that word is, that’s me.

I don’t really have a great gift for language. I know plenty of people who seem to be naturals at picking up languages. But my mediocre, but passing, grades from two years of college Latin, two years of graduate school Greek, one year of French, and one year of Hebrew will attest to my less than stellar linguistic skills. But what I lack in natural ability – which is considerable — I try to make up for by being stubborn and tenacious. Plus I hate, Hate, HATE BEING stupid or looking stupid.

I was highly motivated to learn Japanese because I was weary of looking AND “being” stupid. If you’ve ever traveled to a foreign country and been dependent on a translator then you know what I’m talking about.

Thing is, if you’re just a tourist for a short time, it really doesn’t matter. So what, you can’t read? No big deal. So what, you can’t speak and you have no idea what anyone is saying to you? No worries. You’re a tourist. It’s all good. You’ll be gone soon. Whatever. Just smile and nod.

But when you’re NOT a tourist, it IS a problem.

The stuff that appeared in my mailbox in Tokyo was a complete mystery to me. I couldn’t distinguish the junk mail from the important stuff. And not being able to express myself, or understand what was being said to me, became a huge source of discouragement and frustration.

The ringing of my home phone made me break out into a cold sweat. As any second language learner will tell you, talking on the phone is the hardest. (My first language teacher used to call me on the phone just to mess with me.)

Getting lost was a daily occurrence. I couldn’t read the street signs. And with no GPS, I had to use The Force to navigate around Tokyo.

All of this frustration fueled my determination to learn the language.

But if you aren’t willing to look a fool, you’ll never learn a foreign language.

One of my American friends in Japan was probably much smarter than me. He had, after all, a master’s degree from Harvard. But even though he’d lived in Japan longer than me, my Japanese was way better than his. He just couldn’t stomach the idea of looking foolish. I guess that’s one of the heavy burdens of being a Harvard grad. (You have to be the smartest guy in the room.) But when you’re just a boy from Arkansas, well, let’s just say that the intellectual expectations were fairly low.

So there I was in the restaurant. I’d lived in Japan for about four months at this point and was making my first solo trip to a restaurant without a bi-lingual Japanese friend to help. And even though I was pretty nervous, I’d successfully ordered my food and the exact thing I’d ordered had actually arrived at my table. Sweet!

And now I wanted some pepper for my baked potato.

Typically Japanese restaurants don’t have pepper on the table. You have to ask. So … I asked.

The waitress looked at me like I had just said the most bizarre thing. “hmmm?” I thought. “I guess the Japanese don’t eat much pepper and they don’t use any on baked potatoes,” I reasoned.

She stood there with a confused look on her face, so I thought I should launch into a full-blown explanation about how Americans love pepper and how all the restaurants in America have pepper on the tables. I was quite proud of my ability to explain all of this in my brilliant kindergarten/caveman level Japanese. Despite the look of bewilderment on my waitress’s face, I was pretty happy with myself.

She disappeared into the kitchen behind the swinging kitchen door to get my pepper. I waited patiently and proudly. But within a couple of minutes I heard uproarious laughter come from the kitchen.


That can’t be good.

The kitchen door then slowly swung open just enough to reveal the waitress and the five or so Japanese kitchen staff clustered around the small door opening … just wide enough for them to get a good look at me. The waitress pointed at me … as if that was necessary, since I was the only foreigner in the place. The door slowly closed and another round of laughter erupted from the kitchen.


My waitress, fully composed and looking very professional, returned from the kitchen with the pepper. She set it down on my table, smiled, and repeated the word I’d used for “pepper” with only a slight variation. As if to say, “Here’s your PEPPER.”

I said “thank you” and then … as soon as she was out of range, I snuck my Japanese/English dictionary from my briefcase.

It was there that I discovered the problem. The word that I’d used was NOT the word for pepper. It was something else. And the pronunciation between the word that I’d used and the word that she’d used was only slight. I mean, sliiiiiiight. If I said the two words to you, I don’t think you’d hear the difference.

What was the meaning of the word that I had used?

Well, see … the Japanese have a word that is used for basically anything that comes OUT of the body.

Yep. That’s right.

Think the worst and you’d be right. I’d just asked for something really really wrong. (It kinda rhymes with “shift.” It’s what one might say if they missed the nail and hit their thumb with a hammer!)

I had taken great pains to tell the waitress that we Americans love “shift” on our baked potatoes. Why, we love “shift” so much that we have “shift” on the tables of our restaurants. We’re just crazy goofy for “shift!” We put “shift” on our eggs, and in our soups, and …

Oh shift.

Well, shift happens. And it usually happens when we get out of our comfort zones.

My Harvard buddy was only willing to get out of his comfort zone just so much. He wasn’t willing to be foolish enough to order shift for his baked potato. And consequently his Japanese was severely limited. He couldn’t speak Japanese for shift.

Out of the comfort zone and into the spotlight where you’ll more than likely look stupid is where you’ll also probably learn something as well.

I mean, I could have just as easily stayed here in America and bypassed all of that embarrassment. But there are experiences to be had and a world out there to explore that will require you to step out of that comfort zone. No one has actually died of embarrassment, so why not go for it?

And so long as you know who you are and are comfortable in your own skin, you can plunge headlong into the river of fun and new things! Who cares if you look silly or sound ridiculous? You’re still you!

And on the subject of comfort zones, you should invite your friends to join you at USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP. Some of them are just scared and nervous. You’ll have to help them get over their fears and get ‘em out of their comfort zones. And you can do it. Because you care about them. You give a shift!

— 30 —



Corporal Ashley Hofeditz, RD LDN, talked about the ten common food and nutrition mistakes. Today we covered three.

1. Forgetting to count all of the calories we eat. Every bite counts!
2. Thinking that if a food contains vitamins it must be good for you. A vitamin fortified candy bar is still a candy bar.
3. Judging a food by its reputation. Most “healthy” muffins have more calories than 2 doughnuts!

Thank you, Ashley! It was very informative, as always.



The time change is upon us on Sunday, March 10. The evening class will return to the 5:45pm start time following the time change on Monday, March 11.




We’ll meet at 7:00am on Sunday, March 10, in front of the Visitor’s Center at Shelby Farms. We’ll be going 1hr 40min.




DID YOU START USMC FITNESS BOOT CAMP LAST FEBRUARY OR MARCH 2012? Let me know, ASAP!! I want to get your rank t-shirt made ASAP!



Anytime the “Feels like” temperature on The Weather Channel – I’ll be using the TWC app for iPhone — drops to 30 or below, we’ll go inside. The 0530 and 0645 classes use the “blue gym” on those days. During basketball season, the evening class will use the exercise room off the main gym.

If the Memphis City Schools close for ice or snow, we will also stand down. If they start, but then dismiss classes early, the evening class will stand down.



What you get out of the workouts is determined by you.

How much do you work? How much effort you put into trying to do all of the repetitions with proper form and how much weight you’re using will determine what you get out of each workout.

It’s time for you to go up in weights … that’s what I’m thinking!






When you check-in on Facebook, be sure to check-in on our OFFICIAL PAGE. That would be “USMC Fitness Boot Camp” and it has my picture on the page and boot camp is two words. The other pages are those that other people created without looking for the OFFICIAL PAGE and are duplicates. Those pages refer to us, but aren’t the authorized page.

Thanks, all!



Members of the Sub-7 Club are Boot Campers who’ve run the mile in under 7 minutes under my observation and timing.

Congratulations to the following members of the Sub Seven Club:

Lance Corporal Lee Chase,
Lance Corporal Chris McLelland,
Staff Sergeant Patrick Moore,
Staff Sergeant Rob Johnston,
Staff Sergeant Andrew Stolnicki,
Gunnery Sergeant Bart Thomas,
Staff Sergeant Dory Sellers,
Gunnery Sergeant Henry Kenworthy,
Master Sergeant John Winford,
First Sergeant Matt Green,
And Sergeant Major Andrew Forsdick.



Your rank insignia t-shirts look AWESOME on you! (Don’t forget to wear yours EVERY WEDNESDAY AND/OR THURSDAY, T-SHIRT DAY!

And please go to

And enter your boot camp anniversary date. If that information is already there and correct, you’re good to go.

Every Wednesday is our Official BOOT CAMP T-SHIRT DAY! You can wear your rank insignia shirt anytime you‘d like, of course, but always every Wednesday!

The Rank Structure of the Quarterdeck:

Under 6 months is a Private
Six months to 1 year is a Private First Class.

Over 1 year is a Lance Corporal
– Rachel Phillips 2/2012
– Amber Jackson 4/2011
– Sherri Thompson 4/2011
– Carrie Schule 5/2011
– Mary Bauer 6/2011
– Robin Scott 3/2011
– Chris McLelland 3/2011
– Randal Rhea 4/2011
– Cindy King 4/2011
– Bevan Lee 5/2011
– Melissa Thompson 5/2011
– Wayne Henderson 1/2011 *
– Michelle Moss 5/2011
– Lee Chase 7/2011
– JD Dombroski 8/2011
– Lindsey Stanfill 9/2011
– ShaWanda Upshaw 10/2011
– Tara Ingram 11/2011
– Pam Torres – meritoriously promoted 12/2012
– Tait Keller 12/2012
– Kitty Keller 12/2012

Over 2 years is a Corporal
– Courtney Phillips 2/2011
– Emily Melonas 6/2010
– Beth Mills 5/2010
– Ashley Hofeditz 4/2010
– Anne Marie Wyatt 4/2010
– Jenni Harris 8/2010
– Tim Romanow 8/2010
– Ashley McClure 8/2010
– Wendy Shea 4/2008*
– Jeremy Harris 1/2009*
– Falana Scott 7/2010
– Paul Bauer 11/2010

Over 3 years is a Sergeant
– Cecelia DeLacy 2/2010
– Teresa Faulk 6/2009
– Meg Cannon 3/2009
– Cameron Mosley 11/2009
– Karen Massey 11/2009
– Paul Tronsor 3/2009
– Jonathan Phillips 10/2008
– Sarah Vickers 8/2009
– Shena Clemons 10/2008
– Robert Hunt 8/2009
– Albo Carruthers 8/2008
– Kim Wamble 8/2008*
– Scott Plunkett 10/2008

Over 4 years is a Staff Sergeant
– Jessie Flanders 1/2009
– Andrew Stolnicki 1/2009
– Ben Killerlain 1/2009
– Buddy Daves 5/2008
– Dory Sellers 6/2006*
– Patrick Moore 9/2008
– Anne Kenworthy 8/2008
– Alan Schaeffer 4/2008
– Rob Johnston 4/2008
– Patty Dougherty 3/2008
– Oscar Adams 3/2008

Over 5 years is a Gunnery Sergeant
– Mike Ryan 5/2006*
– Leslie Garey 6/2007
– Henry Kenworthy 5/2007
– Michelle Dunn 3/2007
– Frank Jemison /2007
– Bart Thomas /2007
– Matt Prince /2007
– Beth Rehrig 7/2007
– George Rose /2007

Over 6 years is a Master Sergeant
– Anne Mead 2/2005*
– Kay Ryan 10/2006
– Megan Warr 8/2006
– Leesa Jensen 5/2006
– Rob Norcross 8/2006
– Mike Barta 6/2005*
– Anne Emmerth 6/2005*
– Jeff Lee 1/2006
– Ralph Braden 9/2006

Over 7 years is a First Sergeant
– John Winford 2/2006
– Kay Shelton 1/2006
– Louis Glazer 3/2005
– Matt Green 5/2005
– Gary Thompson 10/2005
– Scot Bearup 10/2005

Over 8 years is a Sergeant Major
– Melissa Moore 2/2005
– Hank Brown 3/2004
– Teri Trotter 4/2004
– Andrew Forsdick 9/2004

Over 9 years is a Warrant Officer 1
– David Townsend 1/2004
– Peter Pettit 5/2003
– Buddy Flinn 7/2003
– Amy Singer 9/2003

Over 10 years is a Chief Warrant Officer 2
– Pat McGhee 1/2003
– John Whittemore 1/2003

Battalion Executive Officer
Major Richard Bourland

* broken time



We should be!


You should totally do that!



If you set up an automatic payment at your bank (Boot Camp mailing address is 4888 Southern, Memphis 38117) you can subtract $10 off your fee! That’s right, instead of $75, you can pay $65!

(This is not an automatic bank draft that I set up with a voided check. This an automatic payment that you yourself set up.)



0530 Monday through Friday
(First and second Tuesday of the month are M-16 Workouts at CUMC. Third and fourth Tuesdays are Mt. Fuji Workouts at the U of M)

0645 M-F

5:30 PM: Monday through Friday.



First of all, find me on Facebook and make me your friend. (Also, be sure to “like” USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP on Facebook.)

Here’s how the discount works!

It’s simple: make a Facebook status update and get a discount!

For every status update that you make that references:
“USMC Fitness Boot Camp,”
“Sgt. Tony’s Boot Camp,”
“Tony’s Boot Camp,”
or something similar, (there are fake boot camps out there) you can take $2.50 off your next reenlistment fee for each update!

You can take up to $20 off for any given month!

Your status update has to be a specific reference to USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP or to me specifically by name.


You can do the same thing by “checking in” at USMC Fitness Boot Camp either by using Facebook “places,” Foursquare, or any of the other “check in” apps that show up on your Facebook News Feed.

So log on and start getting your discounts now!



Remember that when one of your family or friends joins the program at full price because of your recruiting efforts, YOU get a free month of Boot Camp!



Take Shape For Life is the BEST weight loss program I know of. If you’d like to lose weight talk to me. This is the program I used to lose the almost 30 pounds I gained after knee surgery.

You can also go to



A calendar has been added to the official USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP website.

For you visual learners, you’ll find this an easy way to glance at the week or month and see where the workouts will be, if there’s a venue change.


Q. How can I get up in the morning on a consistent basis?
A. Contrary to what many think, I am NOT a morning person. I have to be “dynamited” out of the bed! Here are some tips to help you get going in the morning:
1. Use two alarm clocks. I have a snooze alarm that starts going off several minutes before I intend to get up. Then I have a “Last Call” alarm clock that is located across the room. This alarm clock is set to go off when I MUST get up.
2. Once the last call alarm goes off, the bed become OFF LIMITS! Get moving!
3. Get out of bed, turn off the alarm clock, and start turning on lights all through the house. Turn on the TV.
4. Lay out your clothes the night before. Don’t go wandering around the house in the morning trying to find your left shoe and your favorite shorts. So, have things ready the night before.

What would you do if money was not an issue, fear was not a factor, and failure was not an option?

To your optimum health and fitness!



Sergeant Major Tony Ludlow

USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP, Commanding
Mailing address: 4888 Southern Ave., Memphis, TN 38117
Cell Phone: 901-644-0145

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