Friday Four

Friday, March 15, 2013

1. I recently enjoyed an essay, written along the lines of the classic, "I, Pencil", about the complexity of making a can of Coke. It ends as follows:

The number of individuals who know how to make a can of Coke is zero. The number of individual nations that could produce a can of Coke is zero. This famously American product is not American at all. Invention and creation is something we are all in together. Modern tool chains are so long and complex that they bind us into one people and one planet. They are not only chains of tools, they are also chains of minds: local and foreign, ancient and modern, living and dead -- the result of disparate invention and intelligence distributed over time and space. Coca-Cola did not teach the world to sing, no matter what its commercials suggest, yet every can of Coke contains humanity's choir.
Following are links to other, similar pieces, including the classic mentioned above.

2. When my daughter was a newborn, I learned early on that one of the most common winter mistakes new parents make is bundling their babies up too much. I also remember being badgered almost constantly -- well after she became able to regulate her own body temperature -- regarding the "need" to bundle my baby up like an Eskimo. (For stroller dashes from one heated building to another, my rule was to dress in a similar number of layers as I gave the baby, give her a blanket, and provide wind protection with a canopy or fitted rain tarp, as needed.)

I was thus amused, and -- yet still somewhat surprised to learn -- that leaving babies outside in below-freezing temperatures to nap is a widespread custom in Scandanavia:
"Yes we were doing it back then as well… It was important for her to get fresh air and stay healthy," Gunilla says.

And Lisa's father, Peter, was put outside by his mother to sleep in a pram in the 1950s. Only when it got to around -10C (14F) did she bring him indoors.

Nowadays most day-care centres in Sweden put children outside to rest. It's common to see rows of prams lined up in the snow at nap-time, with youngsters fast asleep inside.
This certainly comports with my now-toddler's apparent obliviousness to cold weather. This dad now counts himself among those most eagerly looking forward to the arrival of spring. I'll happily trade applying sunscreen for shivering while she has fun outside.

3. If you shop online, you should take some time out to contemplate the minor technological marvel that is the Amazon drop-down menu.

4. I enjoy learning Cajun and Creole recipes and my wife is from Louisiana. Naturally, we have a can of Boudreaux's Butt Paste on standby at the changing table. We don't have to use it that often, but my daughter started saying "butt paste" a couple of months ago. That still cracks me up.

-- CAV

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