Gerald Levy (glevy@pratt.edu)
Wed, 6 Aug 1997 03:43:52 -0700 (PDT)

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Today marks the second anniversary of the day that the project that
became OPE-L was conceived.

Tempus fugit!

A year ago I gave a detailed explanation of how OPE-L came into being
in a five-part series [OPE-L:2794-2798]. If you are unfamiliar with that
story, I strongly recommend that you read that series of postings.



In re-reading my original proposal for the project written on August
6, 1995 (see [OPE-L:2795]), it is clear that developments have not
proceeded quite in the manner that I and others anticipated. I am
reminded, therefore, of the following poem:

* * * * * * *


John Masefield

There was a 'Bedford Whaler put out to hunt for oil,
With a try-works in amidships where chunks of whale
could boil,
And a fo'c's'le, wet and frowsy, where whalers' crews
could gam,
And her captain came from 'Bedford and did not give a
So over the bar from 'Bedford to hunt the whale she went.

But never a whale she sighted for eight and forty moons,
She never lowered her boats in chase nor reddened her
So home she went to 'Bedford, where her owners came to
"How many tons of whalebone, cap, and how much oil in cask?"

The captain turned his tobacco inside his weather cheek,
And he said "At least the Bible says, blessed are they who
We've been at sea four years and more and never seen a
We haven't a lick of oil on board but we've had a darned
good sail."

* * * * * * *

Yet, there are important differences:

Unlike the 'Bedford Whaler, we haven't been at sea for
four years.

We don't have commercial aims
or a planned route.

No flag flies from our rigging.
No home port is identified on our transom.
We come from all of the continents.
We seek not The Whale.

We are collaboratively navigated rather than being commanded
by the "Cap."

We don't have access to the same charts: indeed, we are navigating
uncharted waters.

Instead, we boldly set forth without benefit of compass, sextant,
chronometer, charts, or even a port of destination.

And, overcoming shoals, fog, ice, rocks, the doldrums
(like this summer)
-- and the occasional storm,
we learned as we went.

That we are still afloat, is testimony to our ability
to come together as a crew.

No one has fallen from the yardarm.
No one has been washed overboard.
No one has suffered from scurvy.
No one has been buried at sea.
No one has been stranded or set adrift.
No one has had to walk the plank.

We may not all agree on destination or particulars,
but hasn't it been a darn good sail?

And the voyage is continuing.

Is there any one among us who feels that s/he has not benefited
from our explorations?

So we sail onwards: what new adventures lie
over the horizon?

In solidarity, Jerry