How Long is Long?
The latest issue of the Sierra Club's magazine had some excerpts from Gary
Synder's latest collaborative work with Tom Killion entitled, The High Sierra of California…
a fabulous book with Killion's beautiful landscape prints.
Of course, along with the poetic excerpts and prints was the latest update on
the new changes to logging in our national forests and I got to thinking
about the real issue to the problem.
It isn't like there aren't plenty of trees to go around, it is just that
there is a special demand for old growth wood. Why? Well, old growth
includes very large trees that allow for large solid pieces of wood. To do
strips of wood, or compressed wood or even particle board is pretty easy to
make … but not that desirable. So the issue is whether we want trees
that are hundreds of years old to be cut and turned into nice pieces of
This got me thinking … in the 1600's people needed old trees that were
very tall in order to make wooden ships. What did they do, they planted
them and took care of them for a hundred years before they were ready to be
harvested. A business plan of this scale and length would never go over in
today's society where businesses seldom have forecasts or plans that exceed
a year much less five.
Which got me thinking of the Long Now Foundation … you see, I was
introduced to this foundation when I listened to a talk by Daniel Hillis about
this very subject of failure to think that far out. He got together with a
couple of other like-minded eggheads and came up with the concept of building a
clock that would keep time for ten thousand years. They ended up writing a
series of essays, forming a foundation, and actually built a model of their
I am currently trying to recover from the whiplash of the dotcom business
cycle, where a company would be started-- not with the idea of actually creating
a business-- but to be bought or go IPO in two to three years … and then
attempt to make money. My latest company is actually trying to grow a computer
business. Yes, quite unheard of in this day and age.
Don't you just love trains of thought … Let me stop with a quote by Danny
Hillis that I've always loved:
When I was a child, people used to talk about what would happen by the year
2000. For the next thirty years they kept talking about what would happen by
the year 2000, and now no one mentions a future date at all. The future has
been shrinking by one year per year for my entire life.
So pop over to Long Now and check out their clock "powered by seasonal
temperature changes. [That] ticks once a year, bongs once a century, and the
cuckoo comes out every millennium."
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