Sunday, January 31, 2010

Metallurgical Parenting

Somehow I got to reading this week about the development of the SR-71 Blackbird. Okay, okay, stay with me, now. Through a long, lucky, incredible sequence of engineering feats, the famed Skunk Works was able to deliver an aircraft that could do Mach 3.5.* Now, when you're zipping along on the edge of space at 2,500 mph photographing the Soviet missile site du jour, your plane has to withstand a lot of heat. Up to then unimaginable degrees of heat. So they built the airframe mostly out of titanium, a metal that wouldn't melt and is ridiculously light. This is all commonplace nowadays, but it had never really been done before in aeronautics history.

Still with me? Alright, so the interesting part to me was that the folks on the ground began to test the metallurgical strength of the aircraft after many missions, looking for weaknesses. Flaws. Cracks. You know what they found? The titanium, because of the great heat and incredible stress, had actually become stronger, and that the more flight hours on the airframe, the better it was. That really bakes my noodle.

I'll spare you the obvious Nietzsche quote. But feel free to insert your own pithy observations here.**

The crew were quite the little hobnobbers this week. Anyway, we had our very good friends Jason and Valerie over, hosted my parents on Saturday afternoon, and went out for a rare off-campus lunch today with Our People. Jack ate 89% of the large tomatoes on my insalata caprese himself, so I really had cheese topped with olive oil and basil. Mmmmm......Oily cheese...

Today we figured out that the Skipper is playing his loving padres for fools at the table. Majesty is annoyed at me for not sharing food with him, so she gives him half of her chicken marsala. Little does she know Jack ate half my order when she wasn't watching. So the final score is Jack: 1 adult entree; H.M. & E.C. pretty much a child's plate each. Are we suckers or what? And hungry suckers at that.

One last thing. I had dinner with some of my very favorite professional folks this week. They got wind of this here amateur weblog and all but dared me to post a blurry photo of us all. Now, their parent bank is in Paris, so I was really miffed there weren't any berets or buttered croissants in the pic.

*That's NYC to London in under 2 hours, and LA to London in just under 4.
**e.g., I wonder if
Majesty and I will unwittingly protect Jack from things that would actually better him. Okay, your turn.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

What I Learned at the Marriage Retreat

Lesson #1:  It's tough to find a good wife.
Lesson #2:  It's tough to find a good husband.
Lesson #3:  Your child can get along better without you than with you. 
This was our first time leaving El Capitan overnight.  Which really freaked Majesty out good and proper.  My helpful solution?  "Just don't think about it."  Which was heard as "Just don't think about him."  Either way made me look like even more of an insensitive jerk.  Awesome.  The relationship building weekend was off to an ideal start!

Jack looked for Tigger while we were gone.  Yeah, that Tigger.  Apparently A. A. Milne's springy character was outside any transom window at our house, and Jack had to be held up 10 feet high to investigate.  On Sunday, Jack drifted over to El Tiempo where he frolicked with a flour tortilla.  Is it a toy?  Is it food?  Is it a hat?  (Yes, yes, and yes!)  Pictures from the end of this event look like the tortilla was left out in a rainstorm while a rat gnawed at it.  And finally when we were reunited with the sprog, his reaction was something like, "Why did the squares come back?"

Lesson #4:  Sometimes you have to kick in your own door.
Upon arrival to our cabin, the door code doesn't work.  So I press against the door, lightly.  And I mean lightly.  The door moves back 4 inches and I hear the unmistakable sound of pieces of wood falling on the floor inside.  The maintenance guys show up literally 3 minutes later and fix the code.  Three of them.  The silent one observes.  The friendly one fixes the doorframe, which has been kicked in.  The talkative one tells us, "I know what happened."

"Yeah, the owner kicked it in.  He had a bottle of wine last weekend and couldn't get in late one night.  And he just wanted to get to bed."  (Uh, I reckon so.)  He continued, "He's really a nice guy, but he's pretty high strung.  He's like some head honcho at NASA, and when he gets done with a mission, he's going to relax as hard as he can.  He puts 4 trolling motors on his canoe and races people on the lake.  At night, he gets in the canoe and serenades people in the cabins in Italian.  Really bad Italian."

All we could do is ask, "He's not coming back this weekend, right?"  That night, I decided that anybody kicking in my cabin door (wearing a spacesuit) was going in the lake.

Lesson #5:  It really is that simple.
Being kind to your spouse is simple.  But if we all did it, there wouldn't be any more marriage retreats.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Yakubu and Musings On the Salk Vaccine

O mighty [Cowboys]! dost thou lie so low?

Are all thy conquests, glories, triumphs, spoils,

Shrunk to this little measure? Fare thee well.

-Antony in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, Act III, Scene I
Beware the Vikes of March!
I was so rankled watching the 40 year-old Cheesechucker destroy Los Vaqueros that I had to take FMB out for a walk around the neighborhood where I couldn't do harm to myself or others. I searched for rusty razor blades, poisonous flora, pit bulls, unattended firearms and the like, but there were none to be found to make a sure end of me. So in retaliation, dear reader, I sit here typing up this post.

WAY Out In Left (Research) Field
The too-serious thought I had when rocking Yakubu* to sleep tonight: I prayed that he had some great thing in him. Not for himself alone, but so that mankind would be greater for his living. I suppose all megalomaniacal parents have these thoughts. Jonas Salk's
dad probably thought the same thing. Only I guess that time, he would've been dead on. Once again, I'm sure that I've submitted concrete evidence that I'm what the old folks used to call a dad gum fruitcake.

"That's Okay, That's Okay. I Make You Lamb."
We passed the evening at church and then Mr. Yakubu and I stuffed down some leftover pizza as the healthy-eating Majesty looked on with extreme disapproval. When he was done, he started throwing his blue plate (insert low-rent comedy here) on the tray in front of him. H.M. started yelling Opa! Because, y'know, when people are having a good time, and plates get thrown, it's the most appropriate thing in the world to say. And Jack started cracking up uncontrollably. Over and over again. About 40 times. This kid deserves some spanakopita and a slab of good quality feta, stat!

I Know Nuhsing-NUHSING!
I'm compelled to say that about 95% of the topics in my head are not suitable for this post. The more I write here, the less I feel I can share. Why is that? Is that some heretofore undiscovered Blogging Law?

*Official thanks to the crew's Favorite Nigerian for this (unorthodox and probably erroneous) rendering of "Jack."

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Happy New Photo Smear!

Jack just dominated his first Sunday night, grilled cheese/soup combo. That's what makes America great, right there. To borrow from that whole Star Wars thing, forever will it dominate [his] destiny!

Saw Public Enemies last night with Her Majesty. The quote I'm DYING to use in real life:

"I like baseball, movies, good clothes, fast cars, whiskey... and you."

Majesty asked me who I was going to use it on. I told her that I was working that out, but that I'd let her know.

One last note from the week, before I smack you with the Christmas Photo Montage:

Hook 'em, Tide!


From the Crew with love, Happy New Year, everybody.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Solving Resolve

I love new beginnings.  And I marked 2010's beginning by looking directly up, precisely above my head, at a blue moon near Mobile Bay.  It was dryly cold that night, and Long December whined in the background.  To her credit, Majesty let us fools well alone and was already in bed.  I love new beginnings because I love rare things.  Like original longleaf pine floors in a 120 year old house, they're not an everyday occurrence.

I make New Year's resolutions.  Everyone does, I suppose, but I like to think I'm pretty on top of what I decide to do in my life.  Every schmo out there wants to lose 20 pounds, "be a better person" and to watch less of that darn teevee.  That's fine.  But we both know, come February 8th, (alright, January 8th) they'll be arguing loudly with the wife, while glued to Glee, elbow deep in ranch dressing and yellowed romaine.  It's not flattering, but it's the truth.  It's probably the gospel truth for 90% of the people reading this.  All 4 of you.

So when I make a resolution, I try to do it with some gravity of thought.  No, really.  Which nixes things like "#7 - Learn Mandarin Chinese this year."  Oh yeah, I limit my list to just 10 items.  Because, let's face it, most of us should resolve to fix/do/learn/be/achieve about 786 separate items, but that's daunting any way you imagine it.  And the ship's chalkboard is only so big.  One of the definitions of resolve is "to reach a firm decision about."  I think that's the real problem.  Most folks never have to make a firm decision about anything at all, unless they're forced into it by others, or by chance.  I could lecture about self discipline here, but I'll say only that if you have self control, you have a very valuable thing, indeed.  Believe it.

I reconnected with an old friend about a month back*.  I'll never forget the time he told me that before I knew it, I'd have 50 extra pounds on me, so all this silly working out stuff was pure vanity.  This was the gist, if not the precise wording.  No, no, I thought at the time.  We decide what is acceptable to include in our lives.  And no one wakes up 50 pounds heavier, or an alcoholic, or estranged from their family without choosing it, even if only once, even if only accidentally, tragically.  But we ourselves have decided to be... or have let others decide for us... what we now are.  Alright, enough preaching.

I share my resolutions, if at all, with exactly one person on the planet.  Her Majesty.  But I'm making an exception this year.  I resolve to give you, dear reader, whoever you are, whether disoriented perfect stranger just passing by this URL, SAHM somehow loosely affiliated with our little clan, or long lost relative...

A better blog.

Yeah, that was it.  Bit of a big buildup, sorry.

But seriously, I've actually given a solid 2 minutes of hard thought to this while bobbling atop my aching knees, running down East Road a few days back.  I've been whipping you with a few too many blurry pics of the JackAttack, and lame-o stories.  I don't apologize for the esoteric references and wacko analogies.  I mean, read our mission statement.  It is what it is, dude.  The posts might not be as long, but I'm going for thoughtful, which might be a stretch, I'll agree.

I feel like I'm forgetting something.  Oh yes, my illustrious son is fine and well.  Many stories to tell, but I have to get up for the new J-O-B tomorrow.

It just struck me:  I think I broke that resolution while declaring it.

Bring on the ranch dressing!

*This single event prevented my Facebook Suicide.