Fruitless labors

Dear J-

Let’s repeat these tenets: work first, then worry about editing Wikipedia, no matter how excited you are about transcribing information (yesterday, I figured out the serial numbers on the Bay Aviation Super-V and everything clicked into place: now we know that of the fourteen built, seven have been destroyed, four are not accounted for, and three — only three in the world! — appear to be capable of flight with current registration. Aviation enthusiasts have tabbed the Super-V as being the inspiration for Rochelle, the Canadian racer in the movie Planes, hence my particular enthusiasm for the model (look, if you’re going to be forced to watch the same show(s) repeatedly, you might as well find some way to stretch your mind).

And then … and then you start going nuts with all the different possibilities of what you learn, the obscure trivial nuggets and gems, like how the Type Certificate has swapped owners like germs in a preschool, or the original price of the conversion, the details of which Lycoming O-360 engines were approved for use on which models, crash dates and incidents. How can you capture all that in a single article? And then you fall further down the rabbit hole, chasing fruitful leads and oohing over every new info until you’re a self-described expert in something so obscure there’s not even a -phile or -ology to describe it. I think the proper term would be obscurologist.

The fact that obscurologist isn’t flagged by spell check (oh, wait, there it goes) should be terrifying. In your mind — I know what you’re thinking, because it has gone through mine as well — you see legions of pale glassed men, skin gone soft from living indoors and discovering what’s possible from the chair instead of being outside and active. I can’t explain why this is so interesting to me except to say how it feels to be writing for an audience — this modest audience excepted — for an audience that keeps me wanting to write more. Aside from the idea of trying to download the Internet occasionally (you heard that right; the whole thing, damnit) the more Sisyphean task is trying to make sense of what you read online. That’s a task worth struggling over.

Mike

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