About linking

I am firmly of the belief that hard links, pipe links, and soft links are three of the things that make Everything2 great. Hard links help us to learn what terms mean or to flesh out concepts. Pipe links give us more freedom as authors and allow us to be funny. Soft links give us an idea where others went after they finished reading the current node. All of these things are wonderful.

But they aren't all necessary (well, soft links will always show up). Fiction, for example, shouldn't require clever pipe links and hard links thrown in for no reason save the status quo. To claim that they are required is tantamount to telling the writer, "You're contribution isn't good enough, and it can't stand on its own; cross-reference it with this not-quite-an-encyclopedia".

Just because the tools are available to us doesn't mean they have to be used at every opportunity. Maybe I have a sequence of nodes in mind for the reader to follow or maybe I just don't have any terms that need definition. As writers, the appearance of our nodes really ought to be our prerogative.

I've heard several times that E2 is what we make it. If I want to make some of my nodes with fewer links than average, I should be allowed to without negative repercussion. We're writers, and in my opinion, everything that isn't writing (links included) is extra and ought to be optional.

Today I turn 40.

Generally, I don't think much of birthdays. They are merely another mile marker on the road. They are another way to measure the passage of time and the movement from one era of life to another. My life has contained far more meaningful mile markers than birthdays. At the same time, this birthday is intent on trying to make me feel old.

More than anything it reminds me of those birthdays back when they represented points at which you acquired various rights. At eighteen you could be considered an adult for the first time. At twenty-one you were able to do just about anything, especially buy and consume alcohol legally. I work in an environment now where I regularly encounter girls who await these mile markers. They aren't from the mythological white picket fence house where mommy makes pancakes while daddy reads and laughs at today's installment of the "Family Circus" and thinks it actually represents something. They are from the world people who pretend to live in that world like to pretend doesn't exist.

The human survival instict tells us to go out and find what we lack by any means possible. No family is ever really perfect, but some are more off the mark than others. Some kids grow up before they are ready to grow up because they have to. Dad is in jail and mommy passes out drunk every night while sleeping with daddy's best friend. These are the kinds of things some kids have to deal with before they are capable of understanding why they happen in the first place.

I have a daughter. She isn't my biological daughter. I was once engaged to her mother, but that ended badly. Ashley was capable of understanding even though she was only nine years old at the time. Her mother thought her overwhelming beauty could overcome her shortcomings. Ashley never had a father, in part because her mother could not stop being who she was. Her "real" father never saw her and never spoke to her. The other boyfriends her mother had never paid any attention to Ashley because they were too busy trying to get in mom's pants. I remember Ashley and her mother arguing because Ashley wanted to call me "dad." She screamed at her mother, "He's the only father I've ever had and you want to drive him away." When we last saw each other, Ashley told me she wanted me to always think of her as my daughter. To this day I still call her my daughter, and I still would even if she hadn't made me promise. I haven't seen her in ten years. She's nineteen now. Those ten years probably moved more quickly for me than they did for her. I was told she became a cheerleader in high school and graduated near the top of her class. It made me very happy to hear this. Her biological parents never graduated high school. She is my daughter. One day I hope to see her again.

There is this girl who is seventeen. She is currently living in the place where I work. Some might say she is a pathological liar because she always takes minor incidents and blows them up into a large scale drama. She lied to me the other night, telling me she never drinks alcohol. I've read her file, which also tells me about her suicide attempt, which lands her in my kingdom. She went off the rails earlier this year, rebelling against the authority of her parents, school, and anyone else in a position of authority. She rebels in her current situation against authority. She's dyed her hair black, wears dark clothes and has an obsession with "Hello Kitty." She likes me because I'm the staff member everyone else calls "weird." I work third shift, so we usually write notes to each other. I tried to teach her one of my mantras, that life is a book still being written and you can divide your life into chapters. You still have the situations and characters from the last chapter, but at the writer you can find resolutions and move forward. A new chapter gives you a fresh page.

Eventually I'll explain to her that life is about negotiating your personal reality with what exists in the collective reality. She has trouble with that integration, but this is a kid with a lot of potential ahead of her and I'd hate for her to fall deeper in a hole because she can't handle the negotiations. She's having trouble with her own personal negotiations, the kind that often happen at her age, where you want to be an adult but you still like being a kid.

I think the measure of a life is how much impact you've had on the lives of others and how positive that impact has been. The road I've travelled since 1994 has been a very good one. It hasn't been an easy road, and there were many times when I could have chosen the easy road. I've given up jobs, security, money and safety because I don't think those things have anything to do with the meaning of life. People are the meaning of life, and if I stagnate, I stop being relevant.

I figured turning 40 would mark the end of an era. Maybe I would retire. Maybe I'd be too tired to go on. Maybe I would have done enough and could stop hanging in the gutter looking at the stars with the people I call my own. Maybe I'd stop being able to flirt with cute waitresses. Then again, I have a twenty-two year old co-worker I flirt with all the time who recently took a second job working as a waitress at the Chili's they built for me when I moved to New Hampshire. Life is still very good. It just keeps getting more interesting.

At 7:15AM tomorrow I leave for the south pole.

Not many times in your life you can say something like that.

Of course, I hang around with people who have been there. They tell me about it, I nod. Heard it all before lots of times. Now I'll see the flat white with my own eyes. Feel it with my own skin.

Thing about the south pole on November 4th, 2005. It's fifty degrees below zero fahrenheit. The pressure altitude is 11,000 feet. Humidity is zero percent. I expect to become hypoxic. I expect to be colder than hell.

I have been at altitudes like that before, skiing in Colorado. Though, it was ten degrees above zero when I was there. It will be sixty lower. They tell me that at this altitude and pressure my epidermis will freeze solid within about 20 seconds. I can't have anything exposed.

I plan to plant my footprint at the south pole itself. I'll add my imprint to the roughly 20,000 other people who have been there.

It's a selling point of the pole. Less than 20,000 people have ever been there in the history of the human race. It seems like a lot to me. I can say the same thing for my living room, only nobody died trying to get to it.

I'm expecting to become hypoxic. I'm expecting to experience short-term memory loss. I'm expecting to be cold as hell a lot of the four days I'll be there. I am expecting pain of many sorts. There will be about 150 other people there. It's going to be tough finding a place to sit in the galley.

I understand they have excellent bandwidth to the pole for 10 hours a day. I will try to get a wu out directly from pole while I am there. Otherwise, I'll have to node when I return to Mactown.

It would be great to write something intimate and sexy for you right now. It would be great to sit back and talk about love and how it feels when our skin glides against each other. It would be great to talk about the last time I saw you, or the last time we made love. It would be great to be able to focus enough to write a poem.

But I'm excited about going to the south pole. I'm nervous, actually, Will I have enough clothes on? Will I miss a tiny gap between my goggles and my balaclava, and my cheeks will freeze and I'll get awful frostbite blisters.

Will I think of you when I step out onto the polar plateau. Will I thank God again? Will I be in the first C131 to crash on its way, and die an awful death on the transantarctics?

This is a diary so I want to remember what I was thinking tonight, before bed, before I wake up early, trundle to the galley in my big red parka and bunny boots and put a few chocolate donuts in my pocket for the trip.

Lots of people have been to pole and stay there for months.

How much will my newbie mistakes hurt? I know how it works here, and how much you can hurt yourself doing stupid things, and someone else wants to use this computer.

So I can't write to you about sex and the last time we did it. I'll be Fermet. When I get to pole, I promise to write in public the details of every single minute.

I won't die.

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