Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas is Important.

In lieu of getting some video and pics up for your perusal yesterday, El Comodoro was shocked, shocked to learn that he had amassed 93 GB of data on his 93-point-whatever GB hard drive. So no videos were uploaded, no pictures were scrubbed and posted. Sue me. The immense fun of archiving old, yet somehow important data to DVDs was had for about 3 wonderful hours. You're ticked. I'm tired. We're even.

Jackbaby had a terrible night last night. The Captain has gotten the sniffles and a little cough. Too much ruthless pillaging, not enough nap time, if you ask me. And not to be outdone, Her Majesty feels terrible, too. I always knew this day would come, and that I should blow town when it did. But I managed to resist the impulse, though, and tried to help out as much as possible. Which, OK, wasn't much at all, but you're not surprised by that. Neither am I.

I had the best Christmas in memory. The house wasn't (and isn't) completely unpacked, and was barely decorated, but we had ourselves a grand old time. And the feast. Wowwy, the feast. Her Majesty really excelled on this one. The only description I can give is Macedonian, since we did some basic Greek, with some curry. Alexander himself never ate so well. Oh, and the 2nd Annual Rhubarb Pie showed up. Serviceable, but I need practice.

The highlight of Christmas morning was Jack in his new Rainforest Jumperoo. I said in the past that the Baby Einstein Playmat is the nuclear option in baby pacification. I stand by that, but now clarify that the playmat is a nuclear option. It's the A-bomb (primitive yet effective) with the jumperoo being equivalent to the H-bomb (far more complex, and exponentially more powerful). So we set the Skipper in this thing, and the look on his face is just inexplicable. And hilarious. I think my comment was that he looked like he was doing integral calculus. And then the jumping started. And the lights. And the insane music. And the wheels-off animal noises. The kid looked like he was at a rave. I'm telling you, some quality video was captured. For at least AN HOUR he's partying like it's 1999. We get I think two more hour-long sessions in on Christmas Day, and we pour the exhausted baby into his crib. What a show.

I think we were pretty indifferent about, well, Christmas Past. It was nice, but it was just us. And First Mate Belle, of course. Now it's almost like the new found pressure makes it even more fun... knowing that some little person is depending on you to provide them with happy memories. Or at a minimum, non-traumatic ones! So I'm all-in next time. Dinners, decorations, the aforementioned Griswold-type illumination (pending approval from H.M.), you name it, yours truly is bringing serious game in 2009, LORD willing. And speaking of Him, I've rediscovered the significance of Christmas in a religious sense, something that, fascinatingly, isn't popular in some necks of the CofC woods. Without exploring that theological issue (you're welcome), I'll say simply thank God for the Lord Jesus and his appearing, that gives hope where there wasn't any! Gosh, I love Christmastime.

Really, 2008 has given some perspective on the importance of family traditions in general. As great as this country is (and it is phenomenally great, don't kid yourself with the now fashionable America-loathing), we're evolving into a country without traditions. Since no holiday seems especially important, nothing is really expected in celebration of it. I'm changing that insofar as I'm able. My family will know roughly what to expect on Christmas Day, on Thanksgiving and on the Fourth. Maybe a bland point for most, but try missing or almost missing a few big holidays. Not cool. We're still in negotiations on National Day of the Cowboy (July 26th) and Love Litigating Lawyers Day (August 31st).

The Top Brass came down on Friday/Saturday, and brought Captain Jack a haul of booty to line his coffers, along with First Mate Belle, back from shore leave! Jack loves his many new books especially, one of which even plays sounds from the Malay rainforest. I don't know if you've ever sailed near the Malay rainforest before, but there is some wacky stuff going down over there. I think some of los animales play brass instruments.

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Festivus for the Rest of Us

Merry Christmas! Or "Happy Christmas" as my wonderful Irish neighbor says. I've just offended a small grumpy percentage of you that consider yourselves progressive intellectuals. More precisely, I've probably only offended you by possibly offending some nebulous other group, which is really even more comical. Now get up and dust yourselves off so we can start.

"There had to be another way!"
This year, the normal Christmas activities are pretty much out the window for the House of Comodoro. The wheels have officially come off. Instead of shopping for inane gifts, fighting like children for parking spaces down at Highland Village, or visiting the emergency room after accidents related to Griswoldy lighting, we were moving. Yeppers, there's nothing that says Christmas like bleaching out your refrigerator and putting in shelf-liner.

"I find tinsel distracting."
So we've gone kinda Festivus. Just making the holiday up as we go. We have a few nice rituals, starting with the The Scattered Boxes. And there's the Cursing of the Previous Movers. And the Screeching Baby Singalong (It sounds exactly like this). And most important of all, don't forget the Naked Christmas Tree. Ornaments? Ornaments?! We don't need no steenking ornaments!

The Airing of the Grievances
You should know, I'm hurt. The skipper is both disappointed and furious. NO QUESTIONS from our illustrious readers. Fine. Be that way. Not even any comments. Great horny toads, you people are a tough crowd. You're splashing for a lashing, is all I can say. Be ye warned!

And now, The Feats of Strength!
I've been instructed to tell you that Captain Jack was such a good, sweet little baby on move day. He napped off and on all day long below decks of Home Port 2.0, letting the crew go about their many labors. He also looked great in his new Christmas outfit at church, and visited El Tiempo to show it off. The Cap'n even got outfitted with a new reindeer touque when we were out shopping in the friz-eez-zin' cold yesterday. Seriously, it was actually good and cold. Windy, too. Don't hassle me, you northern-climes types.

I ran across some interesting factoids in a Men's Health magazine survey. By the by, that's one heckuva magazine for the average male. Need a shoulder-friendly gym exercise? Want to improve your slap shot (one of my favorites)? Which tie goes with what shirt? The best thing to eat for breakfast? What to get your lady for her birthday? Thou shalt be enlightened. Oh yeah, the survey. Behold:
If you have children, have they brought you more joy or less joy than you had expected?
71% More joy
7% Less joy (Ouch.)
22% About what I expected

Is having children more or less work than you expected?
57% More work
9% Less work (Either very pessimistic folks or bad parents)
34% About what I expected

How has having children affected your marriage?
46% Improved it
18% Worsened it (Colic?)
36% No change (Complete liars or the downright unobservant)
-Men's Health, January/February 2009 (emphasis and snarky parentheticals added)
I'm still hung up on the "Less joy" crowd. What did these people expect? Levitation?!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Independently Verified: The Perfect Baby

Our wonderful yet fearsome ship's doctor, Dr. P (a.k.a The Tigress, if you'll remember) has struck again. First off, Jack suffered another prickly experience at his most recent checkup, the first of which was graphically described a few weeks ago. I'm told Her Majesty was far better prepared this time and held herself together pretty well. Your correspondent luckily missed the traumatic event as he was on assignment in another part of Port of Houston. Dr. P is quite the fan of our little El Guapo, who uses a plethora of moves to impress the ladies. She declared him "THE PERFECT BABY!" Eat your heart out, Lord Nelson.

Final stats at 17 weeks were 14 lbs. 7 oz. (42nd percentile), 26 1/2 inches long (94th percentile - we're in talks with several NBA teams now) and 41.25 cm head circumference (25th percentile).

Next, Majesty finally obeyed the previously discussed flu-shot mandate (after refusing my offer of a draught of lime juice and quinine bark). Shockingly, Thursday night H.M. turned ill from the blasted thing.

So with that in mind, Thursday night basically went down like this for unhelpful dad: DEAD SLEEP... can you get me a blanket... DEAD SLEEP... get me a spit up diaper... DEAD SLEEP... Would you burp him... DEAD SLEEP... change him... DEAD SLEEP... get him to go to sleep... DEAD SLEEP... walk with him around the freezing apartment for an hour... DEAD SLEEP... give him some Baby Tylenol... DEAD SLEEP... 4:45 alarm... There are other details I can't divulge, as I'm constrained by our mission statement (see at right). Needless to say no punishing workout got done that morning.

Had a massive tailwind propelling HMS Tahoe as we went up to do the Texas family Christmas/Thanksgiving in Fruitvale. Behold the wonder of Google Street View! Had a really nice time with the Top Brass and assorted Family People, showing Jack off to whoever would look at him and listen to us. First Mate Belle had such a great time that she requested extended shore leave (granted) and is still up there at Camp W. It's just as well she's away while we move into Home Port 2.o/The House of Many Colors this week. We experienced an equally massive headwind with choppy seas for travel back to Port of Houston yesterday, but a nice trip all the same.

In other news, Jack now loves to "fly" around the apartment a'la Superman and has an annoying habit of suddenly trying to leap out of one's arms. In fact, his preferred method of riding around is to lean out away from you at near-horizontal staring straight down towards the abyss. He takes special enjoyment in going out on our fourth-story balcony (third if you're Britishly inclined) for the view from the crow's nest.

All this enjoyment of heights, free climbing and danger makes me wonder if I've got a future Airborne Ranger or Navy SEAL on my hands. Or maybe just a ne'er-do-well participant in the X-Games.

I'm remiss in posting pics, but hope to remedy that this week. Ah! Forgot to mention that as a new feature on CJMP, the Captain answers YOUR questions. Yes, friends and neighbors, you heard correctly, the skipper will opine on any topic! So uh, fire away and give us some uh, cannon fodder for future posts. No question is too big or too small. What brand of diapers wins Jack's ringing endorsement? What does he expect from the building tension in the Middle East? What REALLY goes on aboard a tall ship? You only have to ask, and it's FREE - unlike that 5 cent hack Lucy van Pelt.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Up Against the Wall Stay-At-Home Mother

Captain Jack must be listening to too much Jerry Jeff Walker and/or Ray Wylie Hubbard (and probably other dudes with three handles) in his cabin. He commanded the Order of the Day to be an ill-conceived, constrained writing tribute to his hard working momma, Her Majesty, who's imperial...ish...ness is, uh, way cool. I should note here that writer's block has struck the crew with force. I digress.

So in the interest of bad writing, I think it's time to introduce the dreaded acrostic to CJMP. Used by the talent-impaired for millennia, it was just a matter of time before yours truly had to stoop to this level. I know, I'll be dumber in the execution, and you'll be dumber in the reading, but I'm working with wet powder here, and the grim knowledge that no one besides one Ryan Gentry, Esq. will appreciate this.
H is for Heroine. Daddy slipped me a piece of eight to throw in this one.
E is for "Ewww!" when I plaster spit up all over Mommy.
R is for Rigging. I'm four months old, cut me a break.
M is for Milk. Or Mommy. Nah, I'm sticking with Milk.
A is for Mommy's Arms that I pretty much try to injure and fatigue 24 hours a day.
J stands for Jolly Roger and Jack Needs Changing.
E is for Egregious Stay-At-Home-Mom Work Schedule.
S is for Stressed out mommy.
T is for T-Bird. Uncle Ryan, you're welcome.
Y is for Yellow, the wonderful color of spit up...
Aw, sing it for Mama! That's funny, now I can't seem to remember my way home from the cinnabar mines. Hmmm.

In local news, Jack is using his hands to grasp just about any item possible, and then pulling said items into his mouth a'la the Death Star. He refuses to nap on weekdays, poring over charts and taking sights with the sextant, quite grumpy as he fritters away the time finding north on the compass. Again. On weekends, however, the skipper can be persuaded by a certain member of the crew to nap all the time, not just on the night watch. And in between barking orders as to the way the sails should be set to his satisfaction, he will on occasion join the crew in a round of Christmas carols. Really. It's hilarious.

Well, look on the bright side. There's nowhere for this blog to go but up, now. I hope.

Monday, December 1, 2008


Back in the good old days when Dave Matthews Band was cranking out songs like a nickel jukebox, every once in a good while they would cut a song that for whatever reason they gave a number in place of a title. Maybe it was lack of creativity, maybe it was understated humor, but whatever it was, it was cool. If Heinz 57 could get away with it, why not them? And why not me? I give you, dear readers, #18.

I could regale you with the near-Olympic distances the Captain has reached in his projectile spitup fits. But I won't. I could tell of the Captain's (and crew's) withering hatred of I-10's construction zones and the infernal French clogging them. But that's old news. I could clue you into how cute the little guy is when he gets to cooing like a pigeon on morphine. Yawn. I did, in fact, retrieve the entire Court from the Port of Mobile yesterday after having a very nice Thanksgiving with Our People over at the Admiralty. But I pretty much retrieve them every weekend, it seems. Or there's the one where a member the crew makes an absolute fool of himself at an engagement party for Jack's Uncle Jay using a lamp, a rug, and a MUCH shorter-than-anticipated cord (you fill in the rest). Fun and interesting? Sure it is.

But what sticks in my mind about the past week was something odd. You're shocked, I know. The background is that I'm a closet fan of radio and TV evangelists (I think I inherited this trait from my dad). Some are really good, with excellent, Biblical points and honey-smooth voices, and some are the ones with the ridiculous-at-any-point-in-American-history accents with equally ridiculous theology. Well, I happened on the tail-end of a sermon on the wireless set of HMS Tahoe while seriously clipping along a little east of Port of Houston.

So this guy's lesson was on the 127th Psalm, a psalm I had overlooked for a long time (I'll use KJV since that's what he preached out of and it's gorgeous in this passage):

Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.

His best point, and this dude had many fine ones, was in exploring the metaphor of kids as arrows. When do you aim an arrow? When it's in your hand. Duh, right? But think about that. A lot of parents are trying to aim when the arrow is already in flight. Too late, dad. Too late, mom. Arrows can go places where even the mighty man cannot. They can go or be sent places parents can't go. Talk to people we can't talk to. Do things that we can't do, for good or ill. They can even deal with enemies. Well, of course this is powerful weaponry we're talking about, right? It's a scary thing to me; not only the admonition to "aim" Jack correctly, but knowing that there's a moment coming when I won't be able to anymore. An arrow leaves the string in a hurry.

Having a quiver full of arrows in ancient times was the culmination of many tens, maybe even hundreds of hours of design and hard work. If you've ever taken the time to learn how to build arrows, like I have (and yes I had a lot of free time growing up) you realize how painstaking the process is. Finding the perfect raw arrow shaft, bending it with steam if necessary, getting the sinew or fiber into a workable state, making a point, fletching the arrow, all these things are hugely time-intensive. So you don't just go lobbing these masterfully constructed things just anywhere, and you invest a lot in their preservation and repair.

I kept coming back to that - realizing the immense value of what I have in my hand. For now.