The Trackless Waste

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The office building I now inhabit (partially) has a backyard area, which has attracted a flock of Canada Geese:


They are large, healthy and vital animals; curious, and nearly unafraid. You can walk within five feet of them without alarming them, and they will generally just move over a little if you do.


The population varies from day to day; I have seen as many as nineteen, with a few green-headed mallard ducks mixed in as well. They need no shelter, no clothes, no medicine, no money; they are eminently suited for survival in the northern, snowy version of the Trackless Waste.

They leave enormous amounts of droppings, which are a minor nuisance on the way into the building. These will decay and vanish soon enough after they leave; a colleague tells me they will raise their young in the ravine behind the building, stay until about May, and fly away until next autumn.

Leaving no buildings, no history, no writing, no culture; is this the secret to survival in the Trackless Waste? Or are all our monuments as pointless and ephemeral, on the whole, as a goose nest or their droppings? Should you care if all you do is ephemeral, since you are?

Does anyone watch your comings and goings in the Trackless Waste?


For another comment on a blog, I generated the following images of an Aerogarden indoor garden I set up in January:

Why do we garden? Why do we do what we do? Another footprint, fading into the trackless waste?

I acquired a follower! That is novel, never having happened before; but then, life is change. Having a follower may inspire the need for actually generating content, something that has never really concerned me before. Busy living life, I have had little time to write; I have a trace more time now, having graduated from graduate school, and being a consultant. We shall see.

I began this blog as an exercise; someone was teaching a class in web publishing, so I sat in and created this blog to learn something about WordPress. For years it sat idle, waiting patiently for me to return. The trackless waste waits also, taking imprints from one and all, as we wander through our lives. This is another track in the waste, waiting for time and eventually entropy will erase it. Nonetheless, I find it worthwhile to create it, so here it comes.

As a demonstration of a (somewhat sheltered) life, I will try and create a (mostly photo) essay of events I have been involved in. Your experience should vary, as you are not I; perhaps there is something useful for you here. Let’s go.

SUNP0003 SUNP0005

The top photo is a test tube of a certain chemical, investigated in my research. The other photo is the same chemical after a day or two immersed in water. The chemical was being proposed for use in solid oxide fuel cells; the red color comes from oxidation of constituent iron in the compound (rust). This instability in water is a failing for a fuel cell, which combines hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity and water; why it took a graduate student to point this out to a federally-funded lab group was a mystery to me at the time; did no one else even look at this? The trackless waste will eventually swallow my doctoral dissertation (if it hasn’t already); was this work worthwhile? Is any?


This photo is not cloudy from bad photography, it is literally raining indoors in the lab. The air conditioning (tempered water) system had coils in the ceiling; in January one froze and when it thawed, the lab flooded. I lost no real research that day, but the potential was there. One day, the building will be demolished (it was built in the 1930s) and all trace of my seven years in that room will likely disappear into the trackless waste. Was my research worthwhile? For some reason, I hope so.


This is the shed my family built in the backyard; it took about a day, maybe two to put it together (from a kit). Here it rains perhaps two months a year, with another three subject to snow; it will probably last a long time, if a tree branch doesn’t take it out. The trackless waste will eventually consume it, though.

Why do we research? Why do we build? Why do we write? Is it only to let the universe know we’re (still) here? What do we seek as we traverse the trackless waste? I wish you joy in your journeys, even if you never leave home.

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Days beyond counting

July 2017
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Past occurrences