Over the years I made a fair good number of "friends" over the internet. I use quotes because these are not the kind of folk you talk to when life is hard or with whom you go for a pint or two after work; most of them live thousands of kilometres away. These are folk with whom I exchange e-mails and forum comments, and by one reason or another mutual respect builds up to the kind of complicity that exists between real friends. I had the fortune to meet a few of them along the years, filling the gaps in my perception of their personality, many times in unexpected, but always positive, ways. But at best I get to see each of these folk once a year.
Earlier this week I learnt that one of my internet friends passed away. It was a news that left a special kind of void and logging in me.
I had the fortune to meet Paul in 2007. The first impact was his physical presence, well over 1.90 m, stoutly built, beard, slightly long hair and not so informal cladding. But behind that was a personality of rare kindness and condescendence, a man that could listen and construct his reasoning around your thoughts without confrontation or haughtiness, even if he had the better knowledge on his side.
Paul made part of the team behind TheOilDrum:Canada, also having ties with ASPO. He always struck me as one of the brightest personalities in the ASPO fraternity, even if didn't stood out as others. There was no issue in the field of energy where his knowledge wouldn't surpassed everything I knew. Beyond being a pleasant character to chat with, due to his personality, talking with Paul was always a learning experience of rare profit.
We met again in 2008, but I never seen him since, and will never see him again. His commitment to TheOilDrum and ASPO was never as deep as other folk, due to his personal life I imagine, but for a few years he kept writing insightful messages to TheOilDrum staff, especially when a new snake oil was advertised by the media as the energy of the future. I can't remember the last time I got a message from him, perhaps a couple of years ago; knowing I won't get any other hurts deep.
Besides that Paul is as far as I know the first of the thirty or so individuals that worked through the years for TheOilDrum to pass way. It attests in first place to the age of the forum, now with seven and a half years of continuous activity. But also to the natural evolution of its course, its contents and its goals. The time when oil was cheap and we eagerly applied different models to find out that peak oil should happen about now are gone, and gone for good.
Hemingway once wrote that if you live long enough you'll see all things you love die. As one of the youngest contributors to TheOilDrum, probability theory makes this is a reality hard to accept.
Good bye Paul, I'll be missing you.