I wrote something yesterday, and then I nuked it.

At best it should have been a daylog. The only useful part of that write-up is this:

There is a way. Everything for a reason. To each his purpose.

In the late 80's a man named James Burke developed a television series called Connections. The premise was that society developed along lines orthogonal to the historical record. Because history itself is a story invented by people who want to the past to reflect imperfect memory.

Often, the connections Burke drew between events was tenuous. Sometimes it was solid. His methodology was simple. Progress in technology came about because people solved problems. The problems they solved were practical. And the solutions were often patented. They generated profit for the inventors. Follow the money. Follow the zealots. That's Burke's history of human advancement.

For instance

Transcontinental commerce led to the market for risk abatement. Lloyd's of London was formed and started insuring things. They demanded that the bottoms of ships they insured were coated with pitch, which created a greater demand for the stuff. The side effects of that were the increased availability of coal gas for lighting and the development of chemicals like naphtha and ammonia, which directly led to the development of rubberized materials (like raincoats for sailors). Meanwhile the sailors wearing the raincoats were increasing the spice trade, which exposed them to tropical diseases like malaria, which drove the need for a cure and the discovery of quinine's curative property. And then of course if you're in a boat in the tropics with a load of quinine and you're British and you have the other favorite British traveler’s drink, gin, you invent the gin and tonic. Eventually, you want cheaper sources of quinine, because in addition to curing malaria, people are drinking it in bars. That leads to the discovery of chemical side effects which give us artificial dyes, acetylene, and fertilizers. A hundred years later, a chemist working with all those things discovers polymer chains and plastics. So transcontinental shipping leads to plastics. You can draw a line, although it's a many-to-one issue. There are probably lots of lines.

Reference: James Burke's Connections I series, episode #7, The Long Chain

The rest of it was stream of consciousness idiocy unworthy of public review.

I'm sure there are many other things I've put here that fall into that category, and I should probably go through all of it and cull out everything I think sucks. But depending on my frame of mind, I would remove anywhere from 25 to 95 % of my write-ups, and I doubt it would be good for me as a writer or for the site to remove that much content, even if I do think some of it rots. As long as I take Dr. Goodyear's position that E2 is a great place to do a quick first draft, I think I'm cool with my content, and I hope you are, too.

It reminds me: I'm no Norman Mailer.

I had an idea to do a wu that was about 10,000 words long and it would consist entirely of the sentence, "Thanks for reminding me; I'm no Thomas Pynchon." repeated 1000 times. And in every sentence I would substitute another author where Thomas is, for about 1000 sentences.

Except the last sentence. The 1001st sentence would be, "Do you still want to fuck?"

I would call it the "Self-Loathing Node", in the spirit of The Loud Node.


This past week I was terribly stressed about my company. It's a startup and we're having the usual startup growing pains, and I'm VP of Engineering, so the job falls to me to control everything. I went to LA ostensibly to see riverrun, but with the dual purpose of meeting a bunch of icepeople who were returning from Antarctica and had almost-a-day layover at LAX before they went on to points northward. One showed up on Friday and didn't leave till Monday AM, which was good for me because that was my schedule, too.

I was extremely stressed out by the whole work scenario, but it was great to see my ice friend and riverrun. We drank martinis and had a nice Italian dinner at a restaurant by the beach.

On Saturday afternoon, the other ice people turned up and we did what most people would place in the category, "nothing", when asked what they had done. We basically strolled the beach path from Redondo Beach to Manhattan Beach, stopping for various foods along the way.

It's interesting to see ice people when they're not on the ice, because they exude a certain energy that attracts normal people. My suspicion is that it wears down after a while, the way a glow-in-the-dark watch dial fades after a few hours at night. But while it's intense, it's hard to get over.

One was assistant camp manager in the dry valleys, and I hadn't seen her for a few months. One was an IT guy and the other was what is known as a GA, or general assistant, meaning a fresh-out college kid who will do anything to get to Antarctica. She was still pretty bright with ice energy. One characteristic of people fresh off the ice is their sense of self-preservation is diminished to zero, so the idea of human-related violence or unfriendliness never enters their minds and they behave accordingly. I found myself cringing when they asked a group of teenagers who fit the Hollywood profile of those contemplating a drive-by what was at the end of the chains hanging from their pockets.

Truth is, they have no stereotypes. There are only individuals.

Ice people are what we would be if we were completely unbiased as a nation. I had to examine my discomfort. It was mine. The problem belonged to me.


I learn things from ice people all the time. Even here in the temperate climes.

My ice friend who stayed is a woman I have now known for five years. We have had many ice adventures together and I have often used her picture on my home node. In real life she's ebullient, energetic, opinionated, well-educated, and generally fun to be around. At a dinner table in a restaurant on Sunday night I realized the two of us might seem like nuclear fusion and liquid helium discussing politics over halibut and oyster shooters. In my happiest days I cannot exude as must positive spin on life in general. I do not love anything as purely and absolutely as she loves life. And I don't know anyone who is as much the compressed central core of burning stars as she is.

How did we both get to the ice, I wonder? What quality common to both of us is key?--because I can think of none.

While we munched on our John Dory and halibut and opined on the future of the National Science Foundation in a political climate that advocates modifying 21st geology and chemistry to more closely match the musings of the Nicene Convention of 313AD, I realized what attracts me most to the ice is being with people for whom life means nothing without terminal, life-threatening challenge. People for whom the truth is that what keeps you alive on the flat white is not the flame from your white gas stove, but rather, the fire in your heart to consume as much of this life as is possible, every single moment.

And if you happen to be part of their life for even a millisecond, then you are to be understood and consumed as part of experience.

While I was with her, and riverrun can attest to this, the woman flatly refused to allow anyone else to pay her way. (Though I convinced her -- I think she relented because she knows me well enough to understand my escalation policy, which includes making a scene, starting fires, and threatening bystanders with warm dishes of crème brulee). She behaved as if there were no sum of money that she could not summon forth from her well worn Indian beaded wallet.

When I left her on Monday she was heading to Seattle to catch the Alaskan ferry north. She was going to spend three days on the ferry to Juneau. She had not paid fare for a stateroom. Rather, she was going to sleep in the public lounge. No sleeping bag. No pillow. No warm toasty blanket.

From Juneau she is catching another ferry across the Gulf of Alaska and she will spend a month sleeping outside on the uppermost deck, exploring wherever it stops, visiting small villages and glaciers, meeting new people every hour, breathing the cool salty air, watching the sun rise and set.

I am here in my office at work, thinking about her.