Foolproof (An allegory of technology)

jbone at jbone at
Mon Oct 20 14:20:00 PDT 2003

...or, "Mark Pilgrim Does Comedy."  :-)  I particularly like the 
"fields, endless fields" bit.


Foolproof »

I have been coping with my new bread machine for several months now, 
with distinctly mixed results. The first loaf came out great, an 
outcome which I attribute entirely to beginner’s luck. The second loaf 
failed spectacularly, by which I mean that it failed to mix, bake, or 
rise, three steps which are generally considered crucial to successful 

At this point I decided to quietly stop blogging about it, in an 
attempt to project, as they say in The Matrix, a somewhat fantasized 
mental projection of my digital self. Online, I am a god who commands 
the respect and adoration of thousands. Offline, I am a moron who can’t 
bake bread in a bread machine. This blogging thing, it has legs, but 
not for the reasons you’ve been told about.

Anyway, it turned out that the bread machine basket, in which you mix 
the ingredients and then lower into the bread machine proper, was not 
properly inserted. It goes in, in fact it goes in deceptively easily, 
but apparently you have to give the basket an extra push right at the 
end to get it past a set of two locking tabs. My old bread machine, 
which I remember fondly, did not work like this. My old bread machine, 
which outlived four relationships, three apartments, two states, and a 
cat, just needed a little twist at the end to lock the basket in place. 
My old bread machine was better.

Things went downhill from there. One loaf failed because I forgot to 
add yeast. (“It puts the lotion in the basket, or else it gets the 
hose...”) One loaf failed because I incorrectly inserted the basket 
into the bread machine proper in exactly the same way as I had failed 
before. One failed for reasons that are not entirely clear, but may 
have been related to my following a recipe I found on an Internet site 
that also advertised amateur home videos with names like “Julia Child 
Gone Wild”, a variety of food fetish sites, and the movie “American 

In between these spectaular failures, there were intermittent 
successes, a fact which in no way mitigates the shame and humilation of 
discovering, after 3 and a half hours, that you have failed to bake 
bread in a fucking bread machine.

I am here to report the latest—and mostly likely final—failure. I 
decided last night to rush headlong into the fray once more, and 
furthermore decided to use the ultra-sophisticated timer function in 
order to have fresh bread first thing in the morning. This is generally 
beyond my capabilities, since it involves doing math in my head, but I 
cheated and used my wireless-Internet-enabled laptop to do the 
calculation in the Google calculator, thus utilizing over $3000 dollars 
worth of hardware and software locally and God-only-knows how much 
hardware remotely (“there are fields, endless fields, where Google 
servers are no longer born, they are grown”) in order to compensate for 
my inability to count to 8 without wandering off and logging on to IRC.

I set the timer successfully, and I woke up this morning to discover 
that I had failed to push “Start”.

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