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I can contribute nothing that has not already been said eloquently on the
great questions, meaning of life, etc.  However, thinking back on Jerm's
account of his first meeting with Mark Courville I do have a relevant
tale.  Long ago and far away there was a great forum known as r.s.a.  It
has since gone down the toilet, which is another story.  The most prolific
poster on r.s.a was a scientist at a NASA center in CA who was also
moderator of rec.backcountry.  Many of his posts were on avalanches,
glacier travel, hazards, etc. and almost all of those were stern lectures
often delivered in a curmudgeonly style.  One day he posted that he had
just lost a friend in an avalanche.  I'd had many cyber battles with him
but loss of a friend shouldn't happen to anybody so I sent him
condolences.  A month later on a trip to DC he stopped in my office to
chat.  He is very friendly and likable in person.  He stated that the snow
related loss was his 4th friend to die that way in a year.  It was obvious
that this profoundly affected the way he read posts and his responses.  I
wonder if Courville's churlishness was driven by the same thing.  He
didn't know who he was talking too and wanted no part, however oblique, in
leading someone into a dangerous game.  I suspect it was.  BTW, Gene and I
have been friends ever since.

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