Sunday, December 10, 2006

Rock on in Peace, James Kim. (To Build A Fire)

It's too bad about James Kim. I have been getting a CNET music newsletter from him for 2? 4? 5? years, so I almost feel as though I know him. The last one I got was November 8, because, coincidentally, I unsubscribed on November 11 and deleted all but the last newsletter to reduce the clutter in my inbox. It is hard to imagine that James would be navigating out in the Oregon wilderness without a GPS navigation unit. On the other hand, maybe he did have one, and that is the reason he got into that situation. I hear that you cannot really keep one on the dash of your car in the US because it will immediately be stolen, so maybe it is more trouble than it is worth. I really empathize with his feeling of trying to help his girls; it would be hard to just stay put in the car for days and days. I wonder why, if they could burn tires, they couldn't collect some wood and get it on fire, or even a tree or two, or if they rejected that idea on principle. I might hesitate to waste a tree to save my own selfish ass, but if it were for the children, viva el towering inferno. But maybe the trees were not flammable, i.e. snow-laden, etc. It seems that if there was a way, he would have found it, but I can't help but wonder what really happened. My condolences to all who really knew him.

Update 2006-12-12: I saw part of a report on Paula Zahn, usually my least favorite cnn presenter, before I had to leave to go to work. I understand now that after days of rain and snow, there wasn't much dry material around to set alight. However, James was able to get the tires on fire. Maybe he drained some oil from the car. I understand he had a lighter and some magazines. I think they put a lot of hope into the smoke from four burning tires, and imagined that it would draw the attention of rescuers. When it didn't, they must have lost some hope. I still wonder if they couldn't have used the heat from the tires to dry out some more branches, or get a tire burning in a dead, hollow tree and start a whole tree or log burning. Either that wasn't possible, or didn't seem like the right idea at the time.

He was right to stay in the car. But how many of us could stand to stay with two small kids who are hungry, crying, bored, unhappy, etc? After 2 hours, 4, 24, 48, you would flip. Most of us would probably set off on the first sunny day for help. He waited as long as he could but finally broke down and felt he had to do something other than just watch things deteriorate. Strictly speaking, maybe it wasn't the most survivalistically correct move, but it is moving because he did it for love and really didn't mind taking a chance and dying.

Nobody can say what they would have done unless they have actually been in this identical situation.

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