Fry Day

Dear J-

There’s a ton of work to be done and I couldn’t be happier because it’s all new stuff and new challenges: how do you do this, for the first time, how do you adapt what you’ve done before, how how how? What’s interesting is the … you’re not interested. I get it. Suffice it to say that attacking new items is pretty cool, whereas re-running the same analyses and revising what’s already been done can be deathly boring; on the other hand, I feel persistently responsible when I’m editing on Wikipedia, so much so that I’ll often have multiple tweaky edits in a row, trying to either get it just right or with some carelessly unknown error creeping through when I’m not obsessively hitting the ‘Show Preview’ button.

Matriculation. It’s kind of a funny word, isn’t it? Does it come from the same root as in “alma mater” then? I’ve matriculated. You may be a matriculator soon enough. Maybe it’s the combination of ‘mate’ and ‘trickle’ that makes it sound faintly ridiculous even in the face of its potential pretentiousness. Or is it just pretentious to talk about what could be pretentious? The word pretentious is itself pretentious, but so is matriculate. The tyranny of the common dictates that uncommon words are pretentious: oh, look who’s putting on airs by using those fancy words, right? From funny to fancy and back again.

We are driven to attempt the same things over and over until that particular achievement loses significance. The four-minute mile. Mt Everest. Atomic time standards. Nuclear power. Space flight. I’ve been reading about some of these things and the effort and ingenuity to get them working the first time is exceeded only in the execution of the incremental improvements or synergistic effect of combining multiple innovations together; we should celebrate the commonplace miracles, for how they got to be commonly seen.

Mike

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