I took my baby to the first Tulare Sci Fi Con and it was everything I hoped for and more...

If you thought a baby would be scared of meeting a Dark Lord, I have news for you. He's more scared of my scraggly facial hair. As are most people who see me.

Shiloh, at the ripe age of ten weeks, tagged along with his mom and dad to the first Tulare Sci-Fi Con at the International Ag Center. Technically, it's not actually the first local sci-fi con, but it is the first to officially take place in the area in the last 15 years.

Was it crowded? Yes, and no. It's hard to gage how crowded a convention is when it's held in a warehouse that's usually crammed with massive tractors, but I saw a steady stream of Siths, Jedi's, Starship Enterprise crew members, caped crusaiders, and notorious villians. It was a veritable who's Dr. Who's of sci-fi and comic book icons.

As for us, we decided that now with Shiloh out in the open, a bursting "Alien" themed costume would've only been relevant ten weeks ago. Instead we went with the classic E.T., an idea that was thankfully simple for Shiloh and myself since I only needed to wear a red hoodie, and he just needed to be draped in one of his baby blankets.

Beth assumed the role she's best known for playing: an inanimate object. Her previous roles include the chocolate river from "Willy Wonka."

As I fanagled a way to strap the baby carrier through a milk crate, she worked her magic to paint a moon. Just so you know, painting a moon is surprisingly difficult, even for an art student like her.

Considering all the white and black paint she used, maybe she should have gone as fifty shades of grey (zing!)...sorry.

With our costumes ready we set off to explore the great unknown in the far reaches of the galaxy about 20 minutes away. Upon landing we first questioned if we were in the right place after being passed by a group of people in pirate constumes, but luckily all of our fears were put to ease immediately upon meeting...


Yes, only mere minutes after stepping out of my car, I was able to check off an item I didn't even know existed on my bucket list: Talk to a guy dressed as Worf from "Star Trek." Let me tell you, right then, at that moment, I knew that this trip was worth all the effort.

I was there on assignment, of course. So don't miss seeing video of us on the scene:


Hey Starbucks, I'm just going to drop off this homeless guy...

Along this long and crazy road called life I've learned that there are two places that the homeless love to congregate: A.) Starbucks, and B.) Wherever I happen to be when they see me walk by.

It runs in the family. I recall my father was regularly greeted by a homeless woman along his daily commute who would fondly reffer to him by wacky off-the-cuff nicknames like "kidnapper," "government spy," or "the devil."

So it wasn't much of a surprise when I approached the front door of my local Starbucks to hear a gruffled voice behind me yell, "Excuse me, son!"

I turned around full prepared to pat my pockets and give a slow shrug of the shoulders that said, "Sorry dude, no change today." But my plans were interrupted once I was met by the sight of an old man in a wheelchair donning a large gardening hat. His wrinkled fingers gripped the wheels at his sides as he attempted to push himself forward.

The process was painfully slow, and to make matters worse, he had only made it into the middle of the intersection.

"Could you help push me up there?" He asked quite simply.

The scene turned oddly dramatic as a light rain started to fall, something unheard of lately for Visalia, CA. Somewhere, in the distance, I could have sworn a violin was playing.

I said sure and and quickly rushed out to grab the back of his chair before the next wave of approaching cars. Luckily this was at 6:30 in the morning, so the risk of danger was relatively small. I then pushed him up the concrete slope onto the sidewalk and asked, "Is here good?"

"No," he said, shaking his head, "I want to go in."

Made sense, considering the rain, but I stopped in my tracks when I noticed that the recently remodeled Starbucks hadn't updated their entrance to allow for a large wheelchair draped in homeless accessories (bags, bottles, cat scraps... etc.). Nevertheless, I wasn't about to leave this man out to face the harsh element of a light drizzle, so I pushed onward.

That was when I, and everyone else inside of the Starbucks, discovered that the front door is indeed capable of fitting a wheelchair, except only barely. The metal rims of the wheels immediately scraped loudly against the metal door frame, releasing a sound I imagine is similar to a hundred angry cats being released into a chalkboard factory. For fifteen long seconds I pushed the squealing chair inside, until I finally succeeded in placing him in a comfortable place by the window.

And it was then that I realized... no one else is going to push this guy out of here. In fact, he might still be there, inside of that Starbucks, or what now I suppose I can just call his new home. And it's been over a day.

I was going to ask if he needed anything else, but then simply nodded and said, "There you go!" with a pat on his backseat.

I then procceeded to complete my original goal of ordering my coffee. The barista gave me a strange look as he then filled my coffee cup, one that asked, "are they related or something?"

No. No we were not. But I did wonder what it would be like if I yelled, "See ya later, Dad!" before waltzing on out of the place. It probably would've been better than simply leaving without another word after bringing a homeless man inside, which is what I did. Sure, I did one of them a favor, but I'm not so sure if management approved of my good gesture. Then again, maybe it was just a push on my part to better society. Or not. I don't know. I kind of just wanted a cup of coffee.

In any case, you have a nice homeless man to take care of now Starbucks. Somebody give that guy a latte or something.


Maybe they should move the handicap space just a tad to the right...

If only I had decided to go to Starbucks after I went to purchase baby wipes. Then maybe I would've been able to see the Walgreens at the corner of Walnut and Court in Visalia instantly transform itself from a standard pharmacy into a drive-thru.

Instead, I arrived five minutes too late, and was greeted by this sight:

The entire front door of the shop had been broken inwards, leaving a pile of broken glass inside and a heap of forlorn Valentines Day daffodils crushed on the sidewalk outside.

It wasn't hard to figure out what had just happened. A car had clearly rammed into the front of the building only moments prior. The mystery was how, exactly, the car managed to ram itself directly into the door, which was fairly concealed behind a bike rack, a concrete barrier, two columns, and of course, the handicapped parking sign.

Somehow, an elderly driver had angled their vehicle perfectly to subside all of these obstructions and crash headfirst through the doorway, in a manner that I imagine looked just like something out of a "Die Hard" movie.

"Did anyone scream?" I asked the cashier as she scanned the baby wipes.

"No, we were all just in shock," she said. "But someone ended up crying. She was standing right by the door when it happened."

"Thank god no one was hurt," the customer behind me said. Her words were echoed by several other customers and employees across the the store.

After my purchase, I was instructed to walk backwards through the checkout isle to avoid stepping on the broken glass, which again, if this was "Die Hard," I would be doing in my bare feet. Thankfully, my laces were tied.

Meanwhile, the employee sweeping up the mess was interrupted by one of the passengers of the vehicled that claimed the entrance.

"Could we borrow that broom for a sec?" The woman asked. "The front of the car is covered in glass too..."

They must have cleaned up fast, because by the time I exited the building the car was long gone.

I did however get to see the manager on my way out as he was busy roaming back-and-forth checking on employees and customers.

"I could even feel it in the back of the store," He said.

As he looked at the shattered entrance he set his arms on his waist and huffed in disbelief, "Thank goodness we're open 24 hours..."

All I'm saying is, maybe the handicapped parking space should be moved a bit. I mean, just a tad further from the entrance. Sure, it's a slight inconvenience, but I can see it being a big help if it should, say, keep a new dad like me from getting flattened while picking up baby supplies.


Waiting for Shiloh -- Our Home Birth Story

I had never checked my phone more times than when I was waiting for Shiloh to arrive. Out of anxiety I would answer each call yelling, "Has your water broken yet?!"

In retrospect I assume that's a confusing and slightly scary way to start a conversation with one of my many student loan collectors, but then again, my many student loans are also confusing and slightly scary.

While I kept my eye on my cell phone at work, Beth was at home rolling around the living room on her exercise ball. It's not something she does everyday by the way, it was all in the effort to get the little boy in her belly to roll on his own into the best position for a speedy delivery.

It was unclear whether the ball had much of any effect, which isn't all too surprising considering that the only exercise I ever seemed to get out of it was ineffectively trying to sit down on the slippery sphere as it rolled out from under meI still had my fingers crossed that it would do the trick to ease make labor for Beth and Shiloh.

She began having contractions on Wednesday, but by that point they were mostly intermittent spasms that made me question whether she would give birth soon or had simply had too many bean and cheese burritos. Boy, they are delicious.

By Thursday however, my suspicions of a botched burritos had subsided, when it became clear that Beth was definitely in the process of delivering our little bundle of pooping joy.

We decided early on in the pregnancy to have a home birth, because a baby is a lot like a pizza. If you want it delivered, why in the world would you send it to a hospital and not to your own house? More importantly, home is where we feel the most comfortable. Beth felt free to move around, listen to any music she wanted, and eat bean burritos to her hearts content.

It all seemed to be progressing slowly. Nevertheless, our doula Avira graciously arrived early to provide support, and I mean that rather literally. As far as back support goes, Shiloh didn't make things easy for Beth and despite all of her efforts to get him in the right position, he really seemed to want to cram his body into a position that made Beth's lower spine writhe in agony.

Having someone in labor in the same room with you isn't all that fun when you realize that there's not much you can really do for them. Apart from giving back-rubs, all I could do was just be there which, in fact, was the best support possible. Beth's mother Margaret also arrived by this point, and simply having her there was a great comfort.

In between the moments of calm conversation, our doula would step in to ensure Beth was as comfortable as possible during contractions. As the hours stretched on the four of us walked around the backyard in an attempt to speed up Shiloh's progress. We were even joined by our cat Wolfie, who seemed to enjoy weaving between Beth's feet as she slowly waddled back and forth in the grass.

We were surprised by Beth's calm demeanor and were left unsure as to whether her ability to casually converse was a sign that her labor wasn't intensifying, or if she really was just that much of a trooper despite her discomfort.

To be sure, we call our midwife Alex. On her arrival she seemed to be equally uncertain as to how far Shiloh had trekked over the hours, but after doing a double-take during her examination, she said with certainty that Beth was between 8-9 centimeters dilated.

Yes, Beth really was that much of a trooper. She had apparently breezed through the "transition" phase of labor, the phase in which apparently every wife expresses her innermost resentment for her husband.

I was quite pleased to hear the news.

In an instant we got to work filling the birthing pool. Filling a pool indoors is no easy feat by the way. If you don't believe me, just do what I did and hold up a hose to your kitchen faucet. It doesn't fit. Even with adapters I found at Home Depot, I couldn't quite make the connection. So I performed my first fatherly duty and wrapped it with duct tape. It seemed to do the trick just fine.

Beth transferred into the pool as the assistant midwives arrived and was shortly given the go ahead to start pushing, even though she clearly didn't need much approval. Shiloh was definitely on his way, but seemed to be slow in gathering his things before heading out the door.

Despite the sad groans, Beth continued to stay strong and cheerful. She took time inbetween big pushes to take sips of soup, water, and the occasional popsicle, but as the time continued to pass and progress seemed to level out, Alex encouraged a change from the birthing pool to our bed.

Beth was not a fan of this idea. I can only relate because I hate stepping out of the shower on a cold morning, but that's of no comparison in the case of someone who's also delivering a human being at the same time.

Again though, Beth is a trooper. She stood up slowly and grabbed onto my shoulders for support as I gradually began to guide us down the hallway.

Beth often complained of the sheer weight of carrying a baby, and as she stopped in the hallway for a contraction, I completely got to experience it. With all her might I could feel her press downwards towards the floor. Her fingers dug in tightly to my collar bone and then moved lower as she moved into a squat.

It was there that another contraction hit, and suddenly we all realized that the bed was no longer as enticing as a location as that hallway for childbirth.

As I struggled dearly to hold back my wincing from holding up Beth, she again held onto me, this time specifically onto my leg hair through my jeans. Clearly, she was the one in the most discomfort at the moment, so I cried especially quietly as she plucked out handfuls of follicles with a loud groan.

She took another breath, the last big one in 32 hours, and pushed.

"There you are little boy!" Beth exclaimed as she pulled Shiloh up and held him close in her arms.

In between our midwife, our doula, Beth's mom, and three assistants, all crowded in a hallway, Shiloh greeted us for the first time at 1:21 a.m. on January 17th, 2014.

It was surreal seeing him out in the open, realizing that this little guy was real, alive, and ours for the rest of our lives. No words can properly describe what it was like at that moment, to actually see him blink and feel his hands and toes that had teased us from beneath the surface of Beth's growing belly over the previous months.

Beth passed him into my arms before she finally completed the long journey to our bed.

Birth stories always glance over the messiness of the after-birth, but I think it's worth mentioning since I really had no idea how much of a process laid ahead of us.

While I was gazing slack-jawed in wonder at our new baby boy, Beth was in bed getting stitches for a few tears. Our midwife was concerned over the amount of blood Beth had lost, but Beth was cheery as usual, if not incredibly tired. I briefly went to the kitchen to get some water, and while I attempted to remove the wad of duct-tape I used to attach the hose for the birthing pool, I noticed a sudden burst of activity.

Suddenly midwives were scattering in and out of the house from all directions.

"I've got the oxygen tank," one said as she lugged in a large metal canister wrapped with plastic tubing.

I wandered back to the bedroom in a confused and exhausted stupor to find Beth lying on her back in the middle of the bathroom floor.

It was a sight that immediately had me worried, but I was surprised to find Beth perfectly relaxed and still conversing with Alex who was standing above her.

I was informed that while Beth was transferring to the bathroom the blood-loss caught up to her and sent her crashing to the floor. She had woken up immediately, but Alex informed us that if Beth continued to lose any blood a trip to the emergency room would be in order.

Much like the birthing pool, Beth felt perfectly fine where she was laying, but nevertheless our team of midwives managed to roll her onto a blanket and carry her back to the bed.

Thankfully the bleeding seemed to mostly subside, but Beth was still in for a long recovery. For the next couple days she remained frustratingly confined to our bed as she downed bottles of iron supplements to make up for the pints of blood she lost.

While we waited for color to gradually return to Beth's cheeks, we spent the time in bed cuddling with our son. In the early mornings I would wake up and sway him back and forth in the living room, wandering from corner to corner to find the most comforting spot.

And his favorite activity these days? Bouncing on the exercise ball. Go figure...


Buy my new berk!

If you haven't noticed, this Awkward Unicorn has been grazing about in other pastures as of late, which is to say I've been pretty busy watching Netflix, not mowing the backyard, and attempting to keep the rear plush of my corgi well groomed (he hates brushing). On the positive side it's given me the chance to finish and self-publish my novel: Haven. It's a sci-fi fantasy book for young adults that involves lots of time travel, space travel, regular travel, and staying put travel. It's a real wham-dingus of a journey through time and space and the most rockin good time you'll have this side of the mississippi. Seriously though, I think it's pretty cool. Be sure to buy a copy of it through paypal so I don't have to give Amazon any of my hard-earned monies (and so I can sign it too!).
Thanks to everyone for your support! Best, Zack (The Awkward Unicorn)


Alright Boys, Let's Roll

Lately I've been trying to reach my full potential, so I made a gif this week.
Check out the t-shirt too on Threadless


25 Years of Movie Magic

It's been quite a journey, but as of June 30th I've arrived to see the 25th year of my life. As my birthday gift to the world I've unearthed these gems that Nick and I made back in our golden days of living in DC. I considered posting Nick's nature documentary "Call of the Wild," a five second epic chronicling our cats behavior in the litter box, but the world might have to wait. In the meantime let's enjoy these glimpses into the past.