Monday, March 29, 2010

Monday, March 22, 2010


We Stand Alone Together
Majesty and Jack finally got themselves good and over to Port of Mobile this past week.  So I was stuck, completely unsupervised, with First Mate Belle, that daft animal I love best of all God's creatures.  There wasn't much to do, other than counting her speckles (2,027) and watching the dishwater in the sink slowly ferment into an alcoholic beverage.

Oh, and I did what dads normally do when they're on their own:  watch Band of Brothers* from start to finish.    I got the hankering to rewatch BoB after seeing the first (freebie) episode of The Pacific, which was superb, by the way.

FMB hated every single minute, and stared at me with disgust in those big bloodshot eyes.  OK, so I did have the firefights cranked up so loud that the gunfire was pretty much acoustically accurate.  A "hunting dog" should be fine with that, right?

If you don't know, BoB follows a crack paratrooper unit from their training, through D-Day on to the end of WWII.  Don't tune me out, here, chicas.  This is not some mindless dude flick.  If you're an American... heck, if you're human, you must watch this, if you've somehow missed it.

You will bawl like a little girl, but watch you must.

The CO through most of the film, Maj. Richard Winters, one of our time's genuine heroes, says (as many must have in those days) that he wrote in his journal at the close of D-Day that if he somehow made it through the war, he would find a little farm somewhere and live the rest of his life in peace.

In peace.  That's how I, and probably you, live in every day.  My biggest annoyance at this precise moment is wondering how long my jeans and shirt will take to dry from the babypee I was just soaked in (needed a wetsuit - long story).  I am often unaware of just how ungrateful I am for simply living in peace.  And I'm often ungrateful to those that bought me that luxury at such a steep price.  To my shame I realize I've ignored the living and dead that afforded me my ease.

A spiritual analogy is easy to make here; an exponentially more important sacrifice is just as easily forgotten, I'm sorry to say.

Two Thumbs Down, Way Down
[UH OH!], Jack's figuring out that he has an opinion.  On everything.  Word on the street is that when H.M. slapped Robin Hood into HMS Tahoe's reel-to-reel, she hears, [NO NO, MAMA!  NO, NO!].  Translation:  "Mother, I shan't watch this driveling outlaw film again.  Take it away, it displeases me.  Bring forth in haste The Books of the Jungle, ye blackguards!"

Don't really know what he's got against anthropomorphic foxes, specifically, but The Jungle Book [BAH BAH BAH] and Mary Poppins [POP PAH] won out, cold.

At Sea
I post the picture above simply to annoy [BUH BUH].  Shouldda brought that Braves' cap, Beebee.  Oh, and behold the Cap'n's brand new sunshades.  The dude looks like a Zero pilot in Walter Matthau's hat.  And these last two I post to show you how to kick back.  You jam on the piano, there are Mardi Gras beads involved, you get the idea.
*I am well aware that it's almost 10 years old, thanks.  The Godfather was released in March of 1972.  So what?  Favorites are favorites.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Greek to Me: φιλοσοφία

I think I'm doomed to talk about parenting this week (Don't leave, I've got candy!  Please don't leave, I beg of you!).  Here I go, against my own better judgment:

I.  A few weeks back I met an intriguing old man.  He loves knowledge.  He's also utterly but pleasantly eccentric (probably a whole lot like I'll be when I'm doddering around in seersucker), but that's not what interests me.  You can see in his eyes, he cannot get enough of knowing.  He breathes it.  History.  Languages.  The Bible.  Literature.  Geography.  All of it.  I am struck by the lover of knowledge.  We all know them.  Back in the old days, we called people like that philosophers.  The root literally means the love of wisdom, φιλοσοφία.

I'm a bit dismayed by how many snicker at these special folks.  I wonder if the dude slinging feta and olives in the agora heckled Aristotle (bet the comebacks were MONEY).

II.  We started a parenting class this week.  Because, you know, I badly need that sort of thing.  Actually the class started last week, and we were being French late.  Not really, we just completely blew the schedule.  It happens.

Where was I?  Ah.  The parenting class.  Mind you, there aren't only us garden variety, Just Showed Up parents in there, you've got your steely-eyed Keepers of the Wily Teenager, your My Kids are Having Kids?! sorts, and maybe a handful of the If I Strangle My Kids, Do I Still Need to Come to Class? guys.

In a group like this, it's incredibly risky to pipe up as the father of the 19 month old.  Generally, everyone dismisses what you're saying, because experience trumps all.  But whatever you make of that, I was grateful to just listen for an hour to people that are far smarter than me (I?).  It hit me while I was sitting there:  There are wise people in here.  Listen up.  It's not an overly common occurrence nowadays for the Younger to get to listen to the Older.  But I was happy to shut up and absorb something of worth.

Now, I don't believe you have to experience everything in life personally to gain an appreciation of it.  I can be reasoned with comparatively.  You can, too.  We all don't have to break bones or touch hot stoves* to know each is undesirable.  So again, I sat and listened, hoping to learn for Jack's sake.  And my own.

III.  Part of the parenting class was that the key to parenting is to first deal with yourself.  I guess the idea is that you face your own faults before projecting them onto your children.  I'm no doubt misstating the point, but it's interesting that people might be teaching little ones to grow up, who haven't first grown up themselves.

IV.  As the parent of a little one, it's worrisome to see our culture's mishandling of children (and its outright war on boys).  For further reading, I give you these two columns by the illustrious Mr. Will:

The Basement Boys

How to Ruin a Child

If you really want to break out in a sweat, read the comments section of the Newsweek article.  Those are the men we've made.

V.  A short JackStory for you.  We ventured out into the true magnificence of the weekend's weather and went to our semi-frightening neighborhood park.  Jack flits around like a hummingbird hopped up on Sugar Babies and gets himself up to the tip top of the big boy slide.  Majesty has Throw, and I've got Catch.  I stick my head down in the slide and look up just in time to see the Cap'n thoughtfully considering his approach to the slide:  "Hmm... Luge or skeleton?"

I guess he decided on "skeleton" because he abruptly leaps in, head first.  The look on his face is SHEER TERROR, and almost shrieks, "What in the blue blazes have I done?!"

When I catch him at the bottom (at about 90 mph), he looks at me, cracks a little smile and quietly says, "Heh."

For Some Parents, Shouting Is the New Spanking
Just ran across this.  A culture that can't spank yells.  A culture that can't yell...  eats?  Look for the Have a Cookie moment and the obligatory NYT swipe at those backward conservative Bible-types.  You're welcome.
*I've used the hot stove metaphor, and cannot believe it.  I disgust even myself, sometimes.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sit. Good Boy.

Go Fetch.  No Really, Go Fetch.
Further confirming my theory that parenting and dog training share more similarities than differences, we have taught our son to fetch.

You heard me.

Just like it's a red-letter day when your pup can finally bring you the newspaper, rubberized faux-quail (with genuine scent), or the missus's unmentionables, it's a proud moment when the sprog can fetch you the book of your choosing and stutterstep back to your squashy armchair.  Majesty asked the Captain for The Lady with the Alligator Purse and here it came.  We then asked for Jamberry, and here it came.  I almost teared up.

It'll be a blink of an eye before his old dad is sending him to the QuickStop for NuGrape and Slim Jims.  I.  Cannot.  Wait.

Andale!  Andale!
This week, Her High and Mighty Worshipfulness has had that dratted ague along with the Skipper.  They had planned to load up HMS Tahoe and shove off towards Port of Mobile on Friday.  Now, everyone knows that day to be the unluckiest of days to begin a voyage, and since Majesty and Jack were feeling downright nasty (in constitution, not demeanor), they gave it over for starting on Saturday instead.

So we got up, got everyone mostly fed, mostly clothed and completely out the door.  And then H.M. calls yours truly as they're stuck in that infernal 610 tráfico.  An hour or so later, another call tells me the whole thing is off.  She's coughing, Jack's coughing, things aren't great.  They'll be back at the house shortly.

Now look, getting 60 or so people (including mariachis) out of the house, a certain (bespeckled) First Mate down from the chandelier, the Slip 'n Slide rolled up, and the living room wet vac'ed is a real chore, anyway.  Try doing it all in 36 minutes flat.

I Say, That's a Capital Idea!
So I'm in SBUX this morning shamefully getting a fix, and Clueless Dad is about 6 up from me getting his 7ish and 5ish year old boys squared away.  Know what they got to share?  A can of DoubleShot.  That's right, friends and neighbors, nothing makes those little bodies grow up quicker (or is it quiver?) than:
Non-fat milk, brewed espresso coffee (water, coffee), cream, sugar, caramel color, ascorbic acid, tripotassium phosphate.
I don't even know what tripotassium phosphate is.  But it's probably tri too many.  I'll give the guy the Bill Cosby line that it does in fact have milk in it.  "Milk!  Breakfast!"

Just want to state for the record that's about 130 mg of caffeine.  To compare, a can of Red Bull has about 80 mg.  (Good thing they were splitting it.)

The only explanation that I permit myself to entertain here is that he was ending his custody weekend and about to deliver them back to the Ex.  The world may never know.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Yoo! Ess! Eh?

I hate topic cleanup, which is the main reason I never do it.  But let's get right down to it with a shotgun start:

The Skipper is pretending to drink hot tea like the regal and munificent Her Majesty.  It really helps that he knows all the proper terminology:  [HAAT!  TAH!]

Issue #2
Our current brag is that we've made the third week in a row of sitting all the way through the church service with Jack, thanks to Majesty's donated necklace (requiescat in pace) and a Magnadoodle (light on the doodle and heavy on the magna).

Issue #3
So there was another petting zoo this past week.  Friendship School hosted donkeys, llamas, bunny rabbits and all sorts of mostly docile fuzzy wuzzies.  Yours truly really wanted to be a part of all this (as amateur photojournalist) but Greener Pastures Capital is about a bazillion miles away from the school and I couldn't swing the logistics.  Think Western Canada.

Anyway, the reports coming out of there now indicate that Jack picked up a bunny rabbit by the ears, kept rubbing his face in the donkey's coat, and pretended to eat the donkey's food (while el burro was right there thinking about which of Jack's ears he should bite off).  Jack-san also liked the pony ride, yelling [UP!] for "Giddy up!" and cackling maniacally as the worried pony trotted around.

The bunny might need some psych help, too, because after the ear incident, the thing would truck it away from Jack at warp speed.  Oh, and Majesty egged Jack on by asking if the donkey's grub was good.  [MMMMMMM!] was the answer.  You're not helping, honey.

So it was another good showing of calling all the animals "dog" and barking at them, with (I think) no strangely dressed parents with socialization issues.  We'll count that one as a win.

Issue #4
The strange language the kid is crafting for himself is really fun to interpret.  We heard the following over the weekend, as the sprog cast about frantically for something:


Which is of course translated, "Esteemed Mother and Father, I've misplaced my cup, and haven't the foggiest where it's gone, blast my gizzard!"

That free translation software is awesome.

And Jack naturally imitates EVERYTHING.  That includes his dad as he screams at that darn teevee during the US/Canada gold medal hockey game.  He's even got the actual word down and constantly chants [HAH HA!] for "hockey."  It's cool.

Speaking of which, it was just painful watching the boys taking the silver hardware after the overtime heart-stopper by (who else?) Sid Crosby.  You would've thought they were being awarded the Flesh Eating Bacteria Medal.

And to Crosby, I officially pass the Greatest Hockey Player on the Planet mantle.  Is there anything that dude cannot do with a puck at precisely the right moment?

I had the whole thing TiVoed so that I could experience the soul killing agony game first hand.  Jack and I made it through the 2nd period and left for church, where H.M. was at one of those baby shower things.  The idea is to swoop in right afterwards and score some cake, which we did, saving the Game of Games for later.

Issue #6:  No, Really, Don't Tell Me
Where else in the known universe would I be more safe from learning anything about the biggest hockey game in decades than at a baby shower in Houston, TX?  Right.

But, no, I have the following conversation almost immediately upon strolling in, with someone (who shall remain completely anonymous, and here's a link to her blog):
Completely Anonymous:  "Hey, do you know how the hockey game turned out?"
Completely Anonymous:  "Oh, okay.  We had it on here, but we turned it off when it went to overtime."
E.C.:  "I cannot believe you just told me it went to overtime."
Completely Anonymous:  "What?  You said you didn't know how it turned out.  I didn't tell you anything about it."
E.C.:  "I cannot believe you just told me it went to overtime.  I'm only up to the 3rd.  Don't tell me means don't tell me!"
Completely Anonymous:  "I didn't!"
E.C.:  "I said don't tell me!"
Completely Anonymous:  "I didn't say anything!"
Pregnesia may have been involved.  Fie and curses upon thee, Pregnesia!

Ladies.  Can I talk to you for a second?  OK, there are strict protocols about DVRing and about speaking to those (in limbo) who have DVRed.  If you have no idea what I'm talking about, please ask your local dude and he'll be happy to explain the protocols.

We now resume our regularly scheduled broadcast.

I am remiss in forgetting to post my wife's immediate reaction to Crosby's overtime goal.  Within seconds, and not saying a word, she handed me (not kidding) a pint of chocolate ice cream and a spoon, with this pitying look on her face.  Thanks, babe.