Just past dusk on an interstate highway, headed East.
Light enough I could see traces of blue and pink on the edges of the horizon, but dark enough that
the fluorescent traffic lights lit up the traffic racing around me.

A large white van pulled along side me, lit up by the lights and a new paint job. It was so bright that blue and yellow billboards, scattered beside the road, reflected on its sides with a clarity that rivaled a movie screen. Blue, yellow, red, blue, etc. I drove along for about a mile, looking over every few hundred yards to keep up with the changing screen. Finally he sped up and I did not.

The next exit was mine.

Today- or tonight, rather- I discovered something mildly interesting.

I seem to be afraid of everything.

More specifically, I have a heretofore unsuspected phobia of adding to Everything.

That in itself comes as somewhat of a surprise to me, considering that I've been looking forward to noding ever since I discovered the site, which was somewhere between two and three years ago. I've come up with a few ideas for writeups, and I've even begun a few of them, just to see what it felt like. Yesterday I finally gathered my courage and made a username, and today I prepared to write my first node. < /br>Little did I suspect my latent fear. The fact is, the prospect of actually writing here, after having read dozens of embarrassingly bad nodes and hundreds of mindopeningly good ones, is difficult to grasp.

How does this work, again? < /br>How do I get past this (probably justified) terror of rejection? < /br>And why did I think I had anything to say?

Fortunately (or not), I am patient.

My first writeup. Hooray?

Day eleven of Lost Gems of Yesteryear sees us add 9 writeups to the quest master list. Walter gave us almost an entire quest's worth of worthy writeups in August 6, 2007, but for listing purposes I could only pick 3 of these.

Writeups nominated in the week leading up to 11 August 2007:

  • runner's road rage by futurebird
  • The Sin Eater by bewilderbeast
  • Slint by Mr. Hotel
  • So this one-legged man walks into a bar by BlueÆon
  • Standing on a mountaintop in northern Siberia under the rapidly descending bulk of asteroid McAlmont, with a calculating expression and a baseball bat by sam512
  • Why strapping buttered toast to a cat's back will not produce infinite power by (not specified)
  • Now is the time when I start: Drink by akatchoom
  • I was Christian for a day by claypenny
  • Boo, age two and a half by Mitzi

    So far, writeup reputations haven't moved much, an average of +3. Only two writeups lost ground overall (each by -1) and the biggest gainers are at +12 (one) and +7 (two more). I'd like to see some more people voting and thus helping to move this part of the quest along.

    Brawl's choice: lateral fricative

    One of my choices is lateral fricative by Gritchka.

    I really enjoy Gritchka's language and grammar writeups. It's a topic I know very little about. I have managed technical writers and done copy edits but I never claimed to have any expertise. Yet the rules of language — and the mutations and exceptions thereof — fascinate me.

    Gritchka makes his little language lessons diverting and entertaining. Sometimes I feel like I'm not getting all the depth of it, but that's OK. I'm reading for enjoyment, not to take an exam.

    What I particularly like about lateral fricative is that Gritchka tells us clearly that "Most of what I'm about to explain I had to work out for myself." That's right, it's "original research". That's one of the things that differentiates e2 from some other web sites. We do allow folks to post their own work. Sometimes that work is of superb quality, as here. When it's posted by an author of long standing and high reputation, we don't need a mound of references. Gritchka's body of other nodes gives us confidence in this.

    Plus, it's just fun to read a writeup by someone so into the topic (Has anyone else recently read "Teach Yourself Xhosa"? Like my first nominee, this is work written by someone with a passion for the subject, and it shows.

  • The point has been made that a number of the submissions for Lord Brawl's Lost Gems of Yesteryear quest are not really all that "lost." That's valid and fair. But as someone who submitted one of E2's most beloved writeups, I feel the need to explain a few things.

    First, "lost" has many definitions. Let us examine, for starters, those provided by our good buddy Webster:

    1. Parted with unwillingly or unintentionally; not to be found; missing; as, a lost book or sheep.
    2. Parted with; no longer held or possessed; as, a lost limb; lost honor.
    3. Not employed or enjoyed; thrown away; employed ineffectually; wasted; squandered; as, a lost day; a lost opportunity or benefit.
    4. Having wandered from, or unable to find, the way; bewildered; perplexed; as, a child lost in the woods; a stranger lost in London.
    5. Ruined or destroyed, either physically or morally; past help or hope; as, a ship lost at sea; a woman lost to virtue; a lost soul.
    6. Hardened beyond sensibility or recovery; alienated; insensible; as, lost to shame; lost to all sense of honor.
    7. Not perceptible to the senses; no longer visible; as, an island lost in a fog; a person lost in a crowd.
    8. Occupied with, or under the influence of, something, so as to be insensible of external things; as, to be lost in thought.

    The majority of these are quite descriptive of the way I define "lost" in the context of this quest; that is, something we were conscious that we had and then let slip by the wayside.

    As I noted elsewhere, Do you remember how small your body was when you were five? is not overlooked or underrated. It had racked up a total of 28 C!s before I ever suggested it for the quest. But the most recent of those cools is at least six months old (I have no idea how long ago it was, but I do know that the user who bestowed C! #28 hasn't been seen around these parts in six months). I have no idea how many new users we typically rack up over the course of six months, but I remember that I, in my young noder days, was typically drawn to the writeups that appeared as Cool User Picks. Someone who joined within the last six months (at least) would have never seen it there.

    No matter how many thoroughly one reads the FAQ and Everything University, how much time he or she spends lurking around the site before submitting that fateful first writeup, no one really gets used to the nature of the nodegel too quickly. I know I wasn't fearlessly exploring the database through softlinks and hardlinks, pipelinks and random string searches when I first joined. I was trying to get a feel for the place by checking out the writeups seasoned users had deemed worthy. That's how I came across Do you remember how small your body was when you were five?, which was written not long after I joined E2. But I came to find and love it through the Cool Archive, not Everything's Newest Writeups.

    If you want to talk "lost" as in "overlooked," you might argue that I would have done well to suggest jessicapierce's followup daylog instead. But what good is an update without the backstory?

    You could also make a similar case regarding the second of the three writeups I chose to submit for your consideration, kthejoker's Ghosts I have known. Mr. K. has written countless heartwrenching and astonishingly good writeups, but this is the one that grabbed me by the heartstrings and made me cry. Could I have chosen something with more universal appeal? Sure. But this was the one that spoke to me, and I want other people to read it.

    As I mentioned earlier, Girl geek by KokiriKid is what I might call "overlooked," but being one of my favourites I was happy to include it in my list.

    My favourite part of this quest has been the fact that it allows us all to have our own definitions of "lost," and why shouldn't we? Some of us are approaching this quest from the angle of introducing "lost" works of E2 greatness to new users -- or even guest user. When a new user takes the first step of asking for help before submitting that all-important first writeup, he or she is usually told to search around the site to get a feel for what works and what doesn't. What do people search for? Stuff that interests them, of course, and that probably means they get sent straight to a lot of factual writeups, or more abstract writeups with matter-of-fact titles.

    Those are all great, you know. But these, despite all their C!s and their hundreds of upvotes and what might be viewed as immense popularity, are still not as well read as they should be.

    And we can fix that.

    Walter, of course, made a very valid and fair point. Just my take. YMMV, etc.

    Spam poetry. There's a lot of it about. Here's some more, made out of subject lines that I noticed in my "caught spam" folder today. I have rearranged them so as to form a coherent narrative.

    Many Sexy People
    Ashley Pomeroy

    Birmingham's greetings
    Can you imagine that you are healthy?
    Your health is important for us
    Summer season is a great time to improve
    Begin second youth in your life!

    Ideal sex, happy life with Super Viagra
    Doctor Approved and Recommended
    Feel and smell more sexy to women
    over 1,500,000 bottles sold worldwide
    Get what you want with us
    Last offer- Discount special

    (pause, as the sound of the explosion echoes away, and a new era of understanding dawns on the world)

    I contemplated calling this "barely legal boys gangbanging horny granny plumper" but decided against it. That's a fair collection of fetish. Perhaps someone could run a competition to find the most diverse, most compact spam subject line.

    You could probably build up an accurate picture of my soul by reading this poem. After all, the spammers can't just be sending out messages randomly, they have targeted me specifically based on my inmost needs. Yes, I freely admit that I could smell more sexy to women. I smell sexy to women, but not sexy enough. You can never smell too sexy to women, just as you can never be too rich or too thin.

    The very good friend girl is upping the stakes. Last Tuesday we went out on what may or may not have been a date, where we ended up snuggled under my coat, on a sofa, in a pub, in the wee small hours. Now, I learn we're going out again (second date? Regular drinking night?) this coming Monday, which has me wondering whether or not there is "something there", as the saying goes.

    I am, to a certain extent, socially inept. I am naive, hesitant, cowardly, generally not brilliant. I more than get by with friends - at times I'm considered the life of the party - but around girls I become the stereotypical geek. I mumble, or stutter, or slur my words. It would appear I'm doomed to live out my university years companionless.

    But! (This is getting repetitive.) With this girl I am totally relaxed. We can talk about anything, and since we were both grammar schooled (the British version, mind you), we're on a similar intellectual plane and so can easily talk about Nietzsche or lend each other Fight Club. (Because obviously, everyone who went to grammar school understands Nietzsche and attends has read Fight Club.)

    Now, I may be getting ahead of myself here, but no friend I've had since I left school has known me for a week or less and has already been consistently willing to go out for a drink, just the two of us. Forgive me for jumping to conclusions, but two people who barely know each other going out for a drink, having swapped phone numbers - isn't that a date? Please tell me it is.

    She's perfect.

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