Someone at FSTP said the Cape Armitage Loop wasn't open yet this year. It made me remember this. I never wrote about it.

You remember?

She says, "The great thing about primary colors is that they're so indivisible."

We're standing at the transition wearing our light ECWs and iPods. From the earbuds hanging around my neck I hear Laura Nyro's tinny voice singing about stealing her daddy's wine. Balancing my skis I step off the land and onto the ice.

The ice is all crunchy here. It's broken into blocks and there are cracks the size of human limbs waiting to swallow our feet. This place is called the transition because it's where the frozen sea meets dirt. Here the ice is a cataclysm of blocks and cracks and snowballs. It happens because even when covered with a thick layer of ice, the sea is in constant motion. It still rises and falls with the tides some 3 feet per day. The ice in the middle of the sound remains intact, but the stuff by the land gets trashed because the dirt doesn't move and the ice grinds away at it and is stuck to it at the edges. It cracks up with the tides and wave action.

About twenty meters out I'm past the cracks and blocks of the transition and onto the smooth sea ice surface. Out here it's like an ungroomed hockey rink. Run a Zamboni over it and you could skate on sea ice. As we're always at least one Zamboni shy, everyone walks or skis. After work, one of the few places we're allowed to go unescorted and without a firehouse checkout is to the the Kiwi's Scott Base along the Cape Armitage trail. You can walk an actual distance alone. Sort of.

Near the ice runway we're passed by a steady stream of USAP logo-emblazoned trucks and heavy equipment.

Looking toward the opposite coast I say, "The great thing about the Royal Society Range is that it's so mountainous."

"I'm not sure I agree," she says, stops. Slides her feet into her skis and slides off toward Mount Discovery. If I was that volcano I'd think about erupting now, just to show some lava. To show her I could. A couple million years being quiet. One last impressive display.

I've never been cross-country skiing before. I'm used to stepping into bindings and sliding off somewhere under the pull of gravity. This is something different. I catch up to her and my feet slip out from under me. This is not going to be a show-off volcano day.

In an attempt of obscene futility I rotate to avoid falling squarely on my ass. Thus, I fall on my hip bone, which reminds me that ice differs from snow in density and firmness.

"That's gonna leave a mark," I mutter. She smirks.

She says, "The great thing about ice is it's so glacial."

I struggle to my feet. I say, "The great thing about a broken hip is it's so geriatric," wishing for a moment I'd continued listening to Laura Nyro.

"I disagree," she says. Waits.

"The great thing about skiing with you is it's so humiliating."

"For you," she says. "I can understand it." She takes off and I realize my error.

"The great thing about skiing with you is the falling," I say, and my right ski gets stuck in a snowmachine track. That leg goes splaying off to the right in while my left leg continues on toward Cape Armitage. I fall again. Same stupid twist. Same hip. Two-hundred pounds crashing onto concrete-hard McMurdo Sound. This is first-year ice. Last year the icebreaker cut a path where we're skiing and this spot had the chance to refreeze. First-year ice is hard and brittle. Ice gets softer and more pliable the older and less saline it becomes. We're not allowed on the older ice because it's full of big cracks and seal holes.

My glutials would probably take the impact better than my bone, but I'm more afraid of not being able to sit in the coffee house than being airlifted to CHCH with a broken pelvis.

Antarctica has a way of rearranging our priorities like that. As I manage to my feet I wonder if my near future will agree skiing to Scott Base was a good idea. There's going to be a great deal of pain.

"The great thing about being out here is seeing Erebus," she says when I catch up again.

I feel my pockets. Empty. This was supposed to be a short 30 minute jaunt. Instead it's a day-long fantasia of self-destruction.

"The great thing about skiing in the Antarctic is the incredible dehydration."

"I agree," she says, handing over her water bottle. I take a swig that's far too small to be meaningful, but too much to be taking from someone 50 pounds lighter and infinitely more prepared. People like me are expected to expire on the ice. Survival is denied.

"The great thing about Antarctic summers is they're so cold," she says.

"Wait. That's too simple," I say. "Can we just stop this game?"

"You giving up? We can stop if you forfeit."

"I think 'cold' is a forfeit. It took all the imagination of like, three brain cells."

"Your turn," she says, and skis off.

Around my neck Laura has gone silent. There's going to be no escape from the falling and endless mockery. It could be worse, I suppose. I could be in the Navy in the 60's. Then they'd subject me to gruesome packings resulting in frostbite and hypothermia. This skiing takes time. Time. Destination is irrelevant. We're here to enjoy being somewhere you can't get to on a city bus. I try to go zen. I try not to think. Press on. Inch by inch. Foot by foot.

My gloves and hat fill with sweat. When I take them off, my fingers promply go numb and my head feels like I'm roasting on a barbecue pit. Put them back and I'm too hot. What'd they say in happy camper? Remove layers. But I don't have so many layers because we were only supposed to be going a short distance, what with me being a first-timer and all.

Through massive exertion I manage to accomplish in a few minutes what a skilled skier would have been able to do in seconds without an elevated heart rate. I pull up behind her.

I say the first thing that comes into my mind. "The great thing about you is your obsequious brutality."

She stops. "My what?"

"You forfeit?" I pull up beside her, my legs filled with fuming lactic acid. As soon as I stop, I begin to freeze.

"That doesn't mean anything. Obsequious brutality."

"Sure it does. It's like passive-aggressive."

She takes a slug of water from her bottle and puts it back, making sure I've seen it. "Then I think I win," she says, and skis off.

I think about heading back to McMurdo. Scott Base is about two miles off to the right on Ross Island. We're heading toward White Island. In about two days our corpses will arrive and promptly mummify. We're probably on the wrong ice road, but I can't be sure. I've never done this before.

And how can there be a wrong ice road? It's the same flat white in all directions.

A truck passes me and pulls up beside her. The driver rolls down his window and when I get close I can hear him explaining the route and pointing back in the direction we came. He drives off. She looks at me, says, "Sorry."

"You lose," I say.

"No, I mean the cutoff was back there, I missed it."

"And I mean, you lose," I say. She narrows her eyes, does a one-eighty, and skis back the way we came.

Once again I manage to catch up and I'm sure my life is shortening with every ski stroke. I'm using energy I'm going to need trying to stay alive on my death bed.

I say, "The great thing about skiing in Antarctica with you is I get to watch your ass."

She turns, smirks. "You going to keep up or are we going to have to send a SAR team after you?"

I shout toward her back, "You lose," and then the pain resumes.

She makes her reply without turning toward me.

I'm not sure what she says, but I'm pretty sure she thinks she's won.

My new style is transplanting entries from my self-absorbed web log and posting them on www.everything2.com.

The case of the...

Looks like I'm getting a little bit crazy again. Too much mulling over and not enough rethinking and rewriting.

Just because the life unanalyzed is not worth living doesn't make the analyzed life any better. Quite to the contrary.

You fucking lousy piece of garbages.

None more wretched than the godless Christian!

I'm still pretty great though. My thoughts are getting better in quality, though not helpful in direction.

Saboteur

I shouldn't write anything when I'm drunk.


God!

  1. A little over-dramatic there lil' buddy? Keep it down!

Things about me.

(Alternately entitled "700 reasons why my life fails me and becomes false")

Noted: I do require a bit more "fun" in my life, about that you, Sara, are correct. But down which avenue will I find it? And for how long. Problems not easily solved. Self-analysis as a kind of obscurantist professional distantiation technique; thinking as a way to avoid thinking.



And no routes for love to creep in, of that I'm surer than certain. So where is the fun to enter? It's likelier than not that I'll evacuate the concept.

It becomes clearer how lonely I am the more I avoid noticing it. Lonely and empty in a way that is more than lonely.

(I've been clinging to how boring he must be because I've been failing to notice how boring I must be. In thought, word, deed, aesthesis). Tongue-tied and hamstrung, akratic and callow; we'll fall as far as we let ourselves. (All the avenues of escape seem worse than enduring--and far shallower).

We all get what we deserve.

(Alternately entitled: why I complain about false problems and find nothing difficult to soothe my ease)
I like writing things that, in hindsight, will seem so despondent and teengothangst as to be almost completely foreign to my regular temperament.
I like to do so because it reminds me of my own inconstancy and inability to see clearly. At the best and the worst and the blandest of times.

Unconnected.

At the best of times.
We flourish together and forget that we're not together. At the worst of times. We forget that its possible to forget that we're together. At the blandest of times we don't remember or forget anything.
We envy and backbite and stigmatize and encourage and denounce and pander and flail.

The amount of sadness I feel over regarding your absence is, if we think objectively (I don't), so grossly disproportional to what is actually called for that I'm embarassed and, maybe, even, ashamed.

How is it possible that I can engage you as a problem? But as a problem whose solution I've yet to become interested in, about whom I remain, nevertheless, fascinated by. Such a philosophical stance: appreciation to the very questionableness of the question; has become brutely practical in the last few months. Daunting and, increasingly, far way.

What we had: a few laughs.
What I think I've lost ("forever"): all meaning and direction.
What I've lost: a few more laughs
(I can't (yet?) think the latter).
THIS IS WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE WHEN I DRINK,
WHEN I LOSE A FRIEND. (PARTIALLY).
WHEN I LOSE A TIME FRAME. (FOR LONGER).
  • To whom it may concern: Human contact. Dignity loss covered by the house. All (viz. none)welcome.
  • Today: all doubly applicable in weird and un-preceded ways. (Perhaps not unprecedented).

I've never quite felt like ending it; but I've never felt less like continuing it than right now. Perhaps a small tincture of Buddhism would delight my palate and reactive me enough to go on. This, of course, hidden in a thicket of ironies.

Some people revel in the impossible tension between duty and desire.

(Not ol' Burkey)

This is what it sounds like when I'm on drugs.

  1. Pusillanimous: Lacking courage, weak, cowardly.
  2. Hubris: Overbearing pride, arrogance.
  3. Wan: Unnaturally pale, as from physical or emotional distress.
  4. Brash: Presumptuously forward; impudent.
  5. Happen: To come to pass, to come into being.
  6. Satiate: To satisfy (perhaps to excess).

  7. And, finally, the telos of our experiment, 'resignation'.
  8. Resignation: Unresisting acceptance of something as inescapable; submission.

How true is that friend. A horrendous list of linguistic truisms culminating in a damning exposition of my lines of thinking. From satiate to resignation, that is indeed telling. It's interesting how moving between antonyns and synonyms can get you from "Pusillanimous" to "Resignation" (many steps having been omitted, of course). It also happens to be amazing that this particular linguistic structuring seems, at least in large part, to have accurately diagnosed the drift of my personality and personal history. Fuck astrology, I believe in linguistic analysis.

Of the above, certainly the connection between satiate and resignation is the most fascinating. Two ways of reading the connection. Once satiety sets in the idealistic striving for an external, unachieved goal (of whatever sort) loses its force; satiety is the very means of production for resignation. Even in the negative case. Think of the perception of an insurmountable obstacle to one's dreams. We would be hard pressed to consider the apprehension of this obstacle as a form of satiety. But what else is it? Look above: satiety='to satisfy (to excess). In our despondency we become full and fuller and overfull of life and of dissatisfaction to the point where satisfaction itself loses its allure and we become satiated on hopelessness. Satiety is resignation. Similarly in the positive case: we find ourselves satiated when our goals are achieved, or surpassed. Satiety isn't simply resignation but, more fundamentally, the annihilation of ambition and willfulness. Satiety is the anchor of Buddhism and the shoal of Christianity.

It's pretty neat how you can connect prima facie disparate ideas so closely if you spend 2 minutes doing so. I would probably have made a good Sophist, despite my inability to convince in public.

I'm reading Fernand Braudel. I'm not sure how "la longe duree" (+accent aigu on final 'e') is opposed to Foucault's thinking, if it is, but I am fascinated by the notion of a biological or demographical geography. Geography as a discipline is fascinating. The geography of French cooking fats and its accompanying history; this has been written, and with sophistication!

I'm angry about the bureaucracy of the university and impotent in the face of it. The disenchantment of the world is indeed a depressing thing. Finding magic is the task of crazies and marketing executives.

I hate to admit the emptiness, vacuity (synonyms?), and boredom of my life but it's all true. And still I'm not sure that's an objection. Boredom is a concern for fullness without its presence. But wouldn't the lack of boredom signify a greater emptiness? I suppose it depends on how faithful we take our estimation of our own circumstances to be. In my current circumstances I've a predilection to pessimism regarding self-analysis, but would this scepticism be as equally well founded if I discovered myself to be satisfied, happy, excited, and not 'bored'? And what would be the grounds.

Really, I'd have to be a vastly different person.

Tonight: Earl B strollt preggzo, got serenaded by a minstrel, accosted by a tough, and sweet-talked by a restauranteur; we smoakt weed, drunk beers, drove 'round, paul-walled.

Smart Enough.

I was thinking about New Years Eve today, and about investing in Raytheon, about mixed feelings, clear feelings, love letters.

New Years.

The last couple of years I've gone with Sara to the big soiree at the Khyber. This year I'm sure I'll go, and I assume Sara will go, but that preposition (with) will fail to take hold of us. I had a dream about it actually, I dreamt of successfully "kicking game" to dames while maintaining pleasant good humour in the face of Sara and her new boyfriend. Who knows, maybe we won't even see each other on New Years.

Raytheon.

Raytheon is, as a simple point of fact, one of the key components in the escalation of long distance, cruelly efficient warfare. They made $20.2 billion last year, and there is no sign that they'll be losing money any time soon. They manufacture Stingers, Tomahawk cruise missiles, directed energy weapons, 21st century warships, SDI components, and the list goes on. And I want to invest in them, if I get enough money. A sticky moral issue, clearly, but one that I, like millions of others, seem to have sidestepped.

Mixed Feelings.

I feel like I'm moving closer and closer to a certain kind of emotional stupidity that I'd much rather avoid than fall headlong into. I've been in similar scenarios before and things have worked out. But now I'm a much different person, with far thinner skin, far more to lose, and about a trillion more self-respect points to wash down the drain. The thing about it is there is no possible future outcome which would resolve the issue satisfactorily: any kind of success would parlay itself into immediate failure; for myself and others. Dwelling on impossibilities! Facing the fact that fate decrees that things will be different than you desire, even when the tantalizing possibility of a great portion of fulfillment is dangled inches away from your lifespan...well that's just about the only test worth passing, friend.

Clear Feelings.

Today Chris said something which was, in its brute truth, edifying. After having spent a significant portion of our weekend in the company of a fucking MORON JERK from Kingston named "Jeff," Chris noted how refreshing and calmative it is to hang out with the people we actually hang out with. And it's true, but you take it for granted that your friends are people you enjoy being around and can respect. I mean, it is very likely that things could have turned out otherwise. Bemoaning loneliness, I oftentimes miss the simple fact that the people with whom I choose to share my time are the best people I've ever met. And I love pretty much all of them.

Love letters.

I'd like to write an honest love letter once in my life. Something that isn't a scholastic exercise, something where I don't pay attention to humour or form. (A love without concern for itself... something new!)

A few points on snobbishness. A riot of philosophies.

Let's see.

  1. IF you communicate with the written or typed word, as most of us do, THEN you should have a particular orientation to correct spelling. You needn't yourself BE proficient at spelling, but you certainly shouldn't have the attitude that spelling is inessential or unimportant BECAUSE you can communicate YOUR ideas without relying upon its particularities. It will appear that I am being the snob here, and I am, but I say to you, the willfully ignorant, that you, too, are a snob. You are a snob (emitting a repugnantly final self-satisfaction) insofar as you refuse to admit that there can be higher or other standards than the communication of whatever YOU have to say to whomever it is you must say it. Language, it will be noted, is more than a hoe with which to till the field of communication, it is a force with its own potential for aesthetic bliss; a potential, mind you, which is largely forsaken when language is jarred from its crystalline beauty by the foppish misuse of "did u c wot he sed?!?!". Now, you may invoke creative or humourous mispellings, certainly and by all means! BUT, your basic orientation when deploying these mispellings should be precisely towards correct spelling, otherwise the force of their humour has nothing against which to amplify itself.
  2. Against the Philistines. More on willful, smug ignorance. When I hear people object to a thought or a phrase, or even a whole body of work, because it's wording is 'abstruse' or 'obscurantist' I generally have a closer look. And you know what you generally find, generally? You find this: the cries of obscurantism are largely founded upon an unwillingness to admit that some thoughts cannot be expressed without relying upon subtle, even metaphorical or metonymic, distinctions between like terms. Between 'maw' and 'jaw' there is a world of difference. Between 'corpuscular' and 'bodily' there is, also, a world of difference. I find the objection that one uses "big words" or "complicated language" to be, in general, rife with philistinism. Some things are worth being a snob about: if you don't plumb the depths of the language in which you find yourself, your incuriousity will no doubt be compounded by your incapacity to appreciate the fine-grained distinctions which life and the world may thrust upon you. Now, again, of course, there are exceptions. Most of what I write on this blog being included. Here my prose is thick with filligree and floridity, and if I were to subject it to more than joke-scrutiny it would, again, of course, fail to pass muster.
  3. Les Philosophes. Mostly, and violently, I'm sick of les philosophes qui dire que they are beyond so-and-so (notoriously a professor at Concordia during my thesis defense objecting disdainfully to my recent interest in Hegel as a 'stage' that one must overcome). Thinking of anyone in the philosophical canon (and, yes, I have respect for the integrity, within certain limits, of the 'canon') as merely a 'stage' to overcome or surpass seems to be an entirely unphilosophical attitude, especially for a 'phenomenologist'. The very notion of a stage to be overcome, as a particularly ironic example, seems to me to be directly traceable precisely TO Hegel! Anyway, the problem is more endemic than my little run-in with arrogance and self-superiority. I think it runs to the core of academic philosophy in today's universities. People will establish a position in relation to a thinker (their version of said thinker), publish a paper, move on to the next canonical thinker, publish a paper, etc. With very few re-evaluations of their basic orientation. So, Hegel=X and Kant=Y, Hegel+Kant=XY, we combine them in these ways, they disagree in these ways, case closed, they can't help in this problem so zzz to them. That is purely unthinking mill-work. And I hate it. Thankfully there are constant disjunctions being unearthed between present day accounts of older thinkers and scholarly historical type work on those thinkers which necessitate (to those who remain partially concerned) active rethinking.

Tangential

The conception of philosophy as a set of problems to be solved is useful and fruitful to a point, but it also has the tendency to obscure that the notion of problems itself has to be analyzed patiently, and that our approach to these problems is bound up intimately with a variety of tangled conceptions of philosophy which remain, in part and in very specific ways (which will be different, of course, for different people even with the same 'training'), connected to a certain canonical sequence of "major thinkers" whether we wish to admit it or not. We may, of course, deny that these major thinkers are major in the ways that they have appeared to be, or that their thought contains what it has appeared to, or that the notion of a line of thinkers relaying a tradition is truthful or helpful in any matter; none of this I deny. But, regardless of our orientation to the canon (or our fleshing out of that notion), we cannot deny that however we wish to define philosophy (and specifically our 'modern' philosophy) we must always stand with some orientation (negative, positive,ambivalent, polemical, laudatory) to this tradition.

The short sightedness of (much) politically determined philosophizing of the last 50 years (I think here of shallow feminisms, liberalisms, socialisms, pragmatisms, historicisms, conservatisms, and humanisms of all stripes) is precisely in their inability to see that this tradition, despite our best attempts to form and transform it, has a certain thickness which dogmatic, pre-determined political orientations simply cannot encompass.

Let's return to our drama, however.

Hegel himself might be considered an interesting focal point in this conception of the history of philosophy as a set of problems: this conception is, at least partially, a child of late 19th and early 20th century analytic philosophy, a school which, in the hands of Russell, Moore, and Frege (though not as explicitly here) attempted to define itself in stark contrast to the British Hegelians of the time. Now, it might well be said that without a proper understanding of the reaction of Russell to these Hegelians (and, as a corollary, of the relationship between these Hegelians and Hegel's work itself) we are likely to be unable to appreciate the significance of the shift from the German milieu of transcendental and historical idealism to the rigorous mode of conceptual analysis/problem-solving that is the hallmark of analytic philosophy to this day. Wouldn't it behoove us to investigate this connection with some seriousness and attention to detail rather than to (in my view, outlandishly) banish Hegel to the land of wind and ghosts as an obstacle (perhaps one we must necessarily 'overcome') to the 'true' form of philosophy (viz. problem solving)?

Rather than something blocking our vision of true philosophy we should (I think) continue to see Hegel's work (and that of Kant, Spinoza, Montaigne, Russell, Pascal, Hume, Plotinus, Augustine, Aquinas, Foucault, Heraclitus, Pyrrho, Chrysippus, Whitehead, Nietzsche, Peirce, Derrida, Anselm, Wittgenstein, Quine, Heidegger, Leibniz, Voltaire, St. Paul, Husserl, Taylor, Machiavelli, Descartes, Hobbes, Clausewitz, Bacon, etc, etc, etc.) as a critical challenge to our accepted notions of philosophy, its limitations, its depth, its meaning, etc.

One of the beautiful things about philosophy, at least as I see it, is that it, unlike science, develops without molting: the entire philosophical canon is not a history of problems being solved but a history (I take it) of problematizations: of problems and of solutions, of approaches and of ignorances. There is a common conception of philosophy (with, of course, more than just a germ of truth) that it never makes any progress. But a particular type of progress is sometimes made: certain things become thrown up as warning signs, as problems, as obstacles. This is a negative view of progrss: the more we think, the more things become, as Foucault would put it, dangerous. But, again, this progress is always and everywhere coutneracted by the multiplication of dogmas, by the forgetting of mistakes and the arrogance of "truth". We find that our answers are far superior to those of our predecessors and forget that they, like us, were concerned to understand the world. Theirs was unlikely to have been an intentional obscurantism; just as later generations will (inevitably) judge many of our solutions and dogmas to have been foolhardy and irresponsible, so too we judge past genearations without realizing that our very solutions to their 'problems' create new problems and often compoind or complicate older ones as well.

So, 'no progress in philosophy' is only half the truth: there is progress, certainly, but it is counteracted often and often disastrously by a very common tendency (whose history, particularly in the west, would provide fascinating material for study) to arrogance and self-assuredness in the face of 'certain' truths.

Analytic philosophy, in this light, is something new under the sun. With its (seeming) rejection of the tradition, in a more thorough-going way than Descartes or the natural scientists of, say, Bacon's era, analytic philosophy has gone further away from the charitable interpretation of the past than any other philosophical trend that I've encountered. But then this is part of what makes analytic philosophy such a fascinating development: it challenges precisely the significance of the 'historical' nature of philosophy itself. But, we can, of course, also take its rejection (in large part, though not exhausively of course; Russell himself being a prime exception) of the history of philosophy as another kind of move within the history of philosophy, however we then choose to define that history.

To collect and redistribute the tendrils of the history of thinking, as well as to forge new ones; I suppose mine is a humanist conception of philosophy, but I'd like to think of it as critically open to challenges, and I think in large part it is (an example: my sympathy (often fascination) for the de-historicizing, coldly clinical feel of much analytic philosophy, despite my equally vociferous propagation of a historically sensitive way of thinking).

Yet another tangent with no discernable end. All this being said, I should myself investigate the connections between early analytic philosophy and British Idealism/Hegelianism more thoroughly. My knowledge of the world comes mainly from pulp novels and swear words.

On another note, I keep having my opinion that iceowl is the most interesting writer everything2 has to offer confirmed. Again, again, and then again. A small though perhaps not insignificant pleasure!

One Year of Everything

"You say it's your noder birthday (da-na-na-na-na-na-na-naaaaanh!)
It's my noder birthday too—yeah (da-na-na-na-na-na-na-naaaaanh!)
They say it's your noder birthday (da-na-na-na-na-na-na-naaaaanh!)
We're gonna have a good time!"—many apologies to the Fab Four

CONFESSIONS OF AN E2 ADDICT

The addict's mind undoubtedly must often return to his first taste, even as the lover repeatedly relives the moment when first he chanced to gaze upon his beloved. It was five years ago, more or less, when a bored graphic artist wandered into the strange wonderland we know as Everything2. In the course of my ramblings across the fathomless depths of the net, I found this site, and thus was I hooked.

As a little boy, I dreamed of writing encyclopedia articles—of helping to catalogue the vast treasure of humanity's knowledge. Everything2 seemed like this grown-up boy's chance to realize that dream in an amateur kind of way. I hesitatedin my heart, I knew that I could never contribute the amount of time and work that I would want to. I never forgot E2 though. I came back often, and I readI read a lot.

After my mother shuffled off this veil of tears, I chose to mark this major life event. I started brushing up on the E2 FAQs and making lists of what to write about. A couple of months later, Hallowe'en 2004, I signed up.

LANDMARKING YOUR LIFE

When we are children, it seems to be a little easier to bundle our recollections into discrete parcels (Which grade was I in? What school was I at?) As we age, things begin to blur and we increasingly rely on our children or pets, significant others or jobs to provide landmarks with which our already overburdened minds may flag our past events. I recently came across someone's idea that we should do something completely novel each year for this very reason. It's a lovely idea, but pretty difficult in practice.

I suspect that I will cherish the memories of my initial year in this bizarre experiment for the rest of my life—the first tentative writeups, the generous assistance of some of E2's editors, the chance to correspond with some amazing writers ... maybe even to make a friend or two in the process.

It has been unlike any other endeavour that I've ever undertaken: I've seen crybabies come and go, enjoyed unsolicited praise, been frustrated, filled dozens of pages with ideas for new writeups, gotten C!s, given C!s, voted, read, wrote, chatted, argued, and learned. I've even attended a nodermeet and met some fantastic (if frighteningly erudite) people there.

BUILDING STRONG NODERS IN TWELVE WAYS

I have received some benefits from my initial twelve months of noderhood: I have gained skill as a writer and grown in self-confidence. I have learned a great deal about a number of subjects and re-connected with my love of doing research and writing, sometimes scribbling three hours at a stretch, something I could scarcely do before.

In the course of doing all this cool stuff, I have slowly learned the subtle art of taking a compliment and taking a punch—as well as how to offer critique without seeming either fawningly effusive or unduly harsh. This is a skill I had long sought but which had eluded me. This rare ability may be the most valuable gift that I have received.

It's been fun! I can hardly wait to see what my second year on here brings.

"I would like you to dance (noder birthday)
Take a cha-cha-cha-chance (noder birthday)
I would like you to dance (noder birthday)"

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