Important blogging milestone: getting an NPR wedgie from Scott Simon

This weekend, tikaro.com reached an important bloggy milestone: getting mentioned on NPR!

Alejandro and I were mentioned on Weekend Edition Saturday, albeit in a story entitled “Inane Blogs.” Host Scott Simon had this to say:

“…An interesting man named Alejandro, who works on a station in Antarctica, just posted an entry about his love of toast. He goes on for more than a thousand words. `I could live off the stuff,’ he says. `We’re talking about some kind of fatty, salty flavor with a golden color.’ Sounds like a man who could use a fresh banana.

A Brooklyn blogger named John Young posts pictures of the sleeve he has made for his laptop computer. I can’t wait to see pictures of his laptop sleeve on vacation in Oaxaca.

One of the great pen-and-ink diarists, John Kenneth Galbraith, once explained that he had no time to write in his diary on busy days and too much on quiet days, which tended to fill his pages with overly lavishly described annoyances.

I know that blogs are a way of saying, `I am,’ but if you post a blog in the forest and no one reads it, who are you? Plato’s pronouncement tells us that `the unexamined life is not worth living.’ Blogs remind us that the overexamined life is not worth reading.”

(You can listen to the piece here.)

Scott writes with tongue in cheek, and I certainly don’t mind. Brag about your craft project as if you had successfully invaded Normandy, and you can expect some teasing.

I do believe, however, that Scott is unfairly slighting what is just the latest incarnation of a venerable and worthy genre: writing about small matters in an epic mode. At the turn of this century, Booth Tarkington clothed eleven-year-old troublemaker Penrod Schofield with the same narrative glory that Homer employed on Odysseus. And why not? Surely it’s not the scale of our triumphs that define our worth as people. Is it?

In Cockneys and Their Jokes, British philosopher G.K. Chesterton firmly upholds the value of trivial writing. A joke about bad cheese, or a description of an embarassing moment in which the Prime Minister sits on his hat, is important because it is a symbol, a window into our shared human condition:

“If you really ask yourself why we laugh at a man sitting down suddenly in the street you will discover that the reason is not only recondite, but ultimately religious. All the jokes about men sitting down on their hats are really theological jokes; they are concerned with the Dual Nature of Man. They refer to the primary paradox that man is superior to all the things around him and yet is at their mercy.”

The mighty brought low! The stench of elderly gorgonzola raised high! The small victory over inconvenience, and the struggle to triumph over the mundane! These small victories unite us as people. I, for one, am willing to defend the worth, the value, the utmost necessity of long articles about institutional toast.

PS. I’d never take my laptop sleeve to Oaxaca, Scott: the canvas and neoprene can’t protect against sand and water. That’s why I’m developing the mighty rePod, and you’d better believe I’ll post the Oaxacan beach pictures here!

Important blogging milestone: getting an NPR wedgie from Scott Simon

Kate and I went


Kate and I went to our 20-week ultrasound appointment today (Kate’s actually 21 weeks along.) The ultrasound machine looks like a cross between a Xerox copier and a dentist’s drill, with an Amiga computer and a closed-circuit camera kind of smashed together in a big, beige, plastic agglutination.

The ultrasound technician uses the wand with her right hand and runs the keypad with her left. There are buttons all over the place. The button that controls the onscreen caliper (used to measure the fetus’ spine, etc.) is actually under the screen, where the brightness would be on a television. The trackball is way over on the right, and the big button used to take a picture is actually from a separate device, kind of taped to the side of the machine. It’s a user-interface designer’s worst nightmare (or fondest wish, I suppose.)

Anyhow, terrible interface notwithstanding, it was really fascinating to watch the screen. Though completely mystifying at the same time. It all looks very… anatomical, in a blinky gray sort of way. There’s no telling what the heck you’re looking at until OH MY GOD WAS THAT A HAND? and you’re grinning from ear to ear like an expectant dad. Look, it’s waving!

In the car before we went in, we agreed to just casually mention to the technician that, if they happen to see the baby’s sex, we’d be interested to know. We did this because Kate is pretty sure that if you get too enthusiastic about anything in front of a doctor, they will be sure to give you a lecture about it. “We’re excited to know if the baby’s a boy or a girl!” “You know, the important thing is to know if the baby is healthy, you bad parents you.” She’s absolutely right, too. Kate, that is: so far, we’ve gotten two lectures from two obstetricians which made me feel like beaning them with a hardback copy of The Birth of the Clinic. “Hey, my insurance premiums pay for your Audi TT, buddy! Make with the bedside manner!”

Okay, enough shilly-shallying. We, like, casually mentioned to the ultrasound technician that we wouldn’t be uninterested to know the baby’s sex, and she responded by grilling me if I had thought of some names. Had I thought of names for both a boy and a girl? Really? What are they? Satisfied, I suppose, that I wouldn’t start screaming and throwing things if the news wasn’t what I was expecting, she picked up the wand again.

The baby had its legs crossed and one hand in front of its crotch, but thanks to the omniscient gaze of modern science, we have a pretty good idea of what the baby is. Want to know whether the baby is a boy or a girl? Click here!

Kate and I went

I just started working


I just started working with a new laptop: a Dell Inspiron 8600, which is a PowerBook clone and so has odd dimensions. To my horror, Timbuk2 did not have a laptop sleeve that fit my new machine. Googling didn’t help much: all I found were Apple Powerbook sleeves with fifties ski-lodge snowflake patterns that I find, um… tired.

So on the one hand, my computer is too big to fit in an art-director-with-chunky-black-glasses sleeve, but I really, really didn’t want to start carrying around the middle manager’s bag of shame: the cheap-ass black Targus bag (“ask me about telephone bond sales from my soul-crushing cube! Ask me about my cheap tie and my anger towards women!”)

So, I made my own laptop sleeve. First, I measured the laptop and cut out for a box out of 5/8″ black neoprene left over from the rePod prototype. I glued the pieces together with superglue and checked the fit. Then Kate’s mom sewed up a tan canvas sleeve for the outside, and Kate sewed the striped awning canvas for the inside. The neoprene sleeve gives it shape, and the fit is tight enough that it doesn’t need a closure across the top.


I am incrediby proud of my homemade laptop sleeve, and each time I take it out of my backpack on the train, I look left and right to see who is shooting envious, admiring glances in my direction. Oddly, nobody has turned green with envy yet. However, I am sure this is just a matter of time. How could you *not* want a laptop sleeve as cool as this?

I just started working

I was reading the “What

I was reading the “What to expect when you’re expecting” book last night. Opened it at random:

LISTERIA
Listeria is a bacteria that [yadda yadda] respiratory failure, convulsions [yadda yadda] common and dangerous [yadda yadda]”

Precautions to take:


  • Listeria is common in the food supply.
  • Expectant mothers should be careful when handling and preparing food.”

WTF? How is that useful to ANYBODY IN THE WORLD? Jeezum PETE, no wonder moms are percieved as worry-warts with that kind of advice. “It’s dangerous. How to avoid it: 1) It’s everywhere. 2) Be careful.” Gloria Steinem was right; you’d never see this:


The Wall Street Journal Stock Market Tips
Many people lose money in the stock market and become unwashed, unloved bums.

Precautions to take:


  • This happens to many people.
  • Try not to lose your money.”

Okay, pregnancy books: FUCK YOU.

Kate went to prenatal swimming class at the Y yesterday! And I’m trying to remember all the words to “He who has plenty of patent-reversible sit-on-and-mash-em operatic silk plug hats, and giveth his neighbor none”, so I can teach young Hezekiah about responsibility.

Which, hopefully, will keep the young infant from growing up writing USELESS PREGNANCY ADVICE.

I was reading the “What

A Ballad of Adventure By

A Ballad of Adventure
By Sarah Simpson Laird (my maternal grandmother)
Found by my uncle Laird Baldwin in the pages of “The Dwarf”,
the yearbook of the Tutoring School in Norfolk, VA, 1927

Nathaniel Munn was a brave stalwart youth,
Adventurous, ready with quip �
      And so in the year of sixteen-two,
      With a very polite and quite gallant crew,
He sailed him away on a ship.

The land that they sailed for they called the New World,
But people knew nothing of this,
      For the journey was made at the word of the king,
      Equipped with a charter and every old thing,
So at first there was nothing amiss.

The �Search� had sailed slowly for several months,
And still had no sight of the shore,
      When the waves, in a tempest, rose miles and miles high,
      And the crew of great gentlemen thought they would die
As their feelings grew frightfully sore.

But at last, in the dawn of a lovely May day,
Land was seen by Nathaniel Munn.
      Oh, then amid shouting, the anchor was cast,
      With surprising disorder the ship was made fast,
And the band thought their troubles were done.

But alas! How mistaken are those of this earth!
After taking the ship�s boat ashore,
      A tribe of fierce Redskins attacked � two to one �
      In the rows of the captured Nathaniel Munn
Stood up to his doublet in gore.

The savages built a magnificent fire.
They killed what was left of the crew.
      And the single word �Redskins� found carved on a birch �
      Found by the men sent in search of the �Search�
Was all that the world ever knew.

My uncle Laird adds:

(note � the only Nathaniel Munn I can turn up on the internet lived to be rather old and had ten children. He was born in Massachusetts in 1661 and died there in 1743. I suspect the author either thought the name up, combined two names, or had come across his name in an historical document and thought it would be a good one to create a story around and to hell with posterity�s concern for political correctness. Redskins, indeed!)

A Ballad of Adventure By

Corner of 4th avenue

GZF's bib number was 19236; watch a simulation here.
Corner of 4th avenue and Pacific street, 11:25 am: my phone rings, and Francesco lets me know that Genevieve is about half a mile away, heading towards us on the left side of the street. A little less than five minutes later, she runs by looking strong and confident. We yell her name and get a smile and a wave.

When you spot your marathon runner, shout their name, and get a wave, you are a lucky supporter. I remember waiting at the top of the Boston Marathon’s Heartbreak Hill several times, waiting for my dad to come by. Those haggard men in dolphin shorts were not interested in “Yay, looking good! Clap clap clap!” They were interested in a quick and painless death, or at least some band-aids to cover their nipples (mesh shirts were abrasive back in the day.)

A mile or two after we saw Genevieve, her knee gave out, which left her with sixteen miles of pain and limping. But she kept running and finished, more power to her. At a congratulatory party last night, she had the great big medal around her neck, and looked relaxed and happy.

Yaay, great job! Clap clap clap!

Meanwhile, fall has, um… fallen, at home. The big maple tree in the back yard has erupted into blazing color, and the ground has become a soggy mixture of mud and leaf mold that makes you unlace and pull off your boots every time you come into the house. Jeez, I’m tempted to go and buy some clogs or something.

Kate and I go to tho doctor’s for the twenty-(one)-week ultrasound on November 17th, where we’ll find out if the baby is a boy or a girl. And I will post the result right here!

Corner of 4th avenue