Why This Blog, and Why the Name?

About fourteen or fifteen years ago, I wrote and posted a personal web site. My inspiration was a similar personal site published by Zak Nilsson, eldest son of Harry; he wrote about his personal interests and things that were going on in his creative life. So I cheerfully ripped off Zak’s idea. I posted copies of photographs I was particularly proud of, wrote summaries of my career and interests, and so on.

About thirteen years and change ago, Kim and I found out we were going to be parents, and my web site changed. Both of our extended families were in other states, so I added a news column to my site to let everyone know the latest about how the unidentified kid was shaping up. When we got our first ultrasound images, I posted one of them so that the family could see. And eventually, when Anya was born and as soon as Kim was resting, I ran to the one-hour photo lab, then home to the film scanner, and finally posted Anya’s birth photo about three or four hours after taking it. (Getting a photo online was a lot of work back in those days.)

Within a few more years there were blogging platforms, so I retired the news column on my web site and started a blog called The Sultan’s Tent. I planned to publish a combination of family updates and short articles about life here in Sultan, Washington, so that our extended family could get a better idea of what was going on. I kept it going for a couple of years or so, and then the ultimate vehicle for family news — Facebook — appeared on the scene.

So now I’ve got a trail of obsolete technology a mile long behind me, and I no longer need to provide my relatives with updates about Anya. She’s 15 now and provides the updates herself, through Facebook. Every so often, though, I still feel the need to hold forth about certain things, particularly language disputes and nonsense coming in through the media. Hence the blog you have before you now.

And what about the name? What exactly is a runcible pompatus?

Well, no one really knows. Both words are coinages, and no hard-and-fast definition is known for either one. Edward Lear first used the word “runcible” in his poem “The Owl and the Pussy-Cat”, in reference to a spoon. So my mother — an Edward Lear groupie if ever there was one — used to tell me that a runcible spoon was a slotted spoon. But although many people believe that, it’s not true. Lear needed a word with three syllables, so he threw one together. “Pompatus,” of course, was coined by Steve Miller (whom some people call the Space Cowboy). After I found out about “runcible,” though, every time I heard Steve Miller sing “The Joker,” I would think to myself, “What kind of pompatus, Steve? A runcible pompatus?”

And in the end, this blog may come to be of no more import than that runcible pompatus. But the term is fun to read, at least, and I’ll take that as my goal as well.


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