I post some current commentaries and thoughts on a number of subjects at the associated Blog.
Yesterday there was an event at Lamont for John Diebold who died on July 1st at 66. I had known him for 34 years and made the remarks below, needing to stop several times to regain composure.
I thought of getting a black armband, but didn’t know where to go to get one. There must be somewhere that sells them or maybe they are always improvised for the occasion. They are kind of a specialty item.
I did get a black headband. Actually a sort of bandanna with a sweatband sewn inside that gets called a headsweat or a do-rag. It ties at the back so the black cloth showed pretty well the whole day I rode over the passes in the California Sierra’s on the Tour of the California Alps also known, unfortunately as the Markleeville Death Ride. I’ve never thought it a very good name for what is really just a long, hard, mountainous bike ride – 129 miles and 15,000 feet of climbing. It seemed particularly inappropriate just ten days after you left us. Somehow though, I think you might appreciate the irony.
For days I have thought of little else but you and I had the notion that the ride might keep my mind off you for a while, at least on the fast descents where a moment’s inattention can be disastrous. I tried this because it had worked before. You’ll remember how CZ and I lost a child at only 6 weeks old. I found I had to have something for at least a few hours a day to divert my mind so as to not go crazy with grief.
Well it didn’t work this time. The day before while camping with family near the start of the ride I was, I was told, distant and removed and I suppose I was. But you were so near to my mind. I tried to read anything that would seem to offer a way to engage a thought of a different kind but everything lead me back to memories of you — memories that can go back to 1976 on the Vema out of Esperance in Western Australia. V3303. That was the leg on which you taught me how to shoot explosives so well that no one ever knew I didn’t have a real shooters license, just the John D certificate of excellence in explosive devices.
Outside of family there is no one I have known longer than you.
I am sad, John, really sad. Your absence hurts. Tears came twice on the ride. Fortunately everyone is sweating and concentrating on his or her own efforts and no one noticed. But at a rest stop I had to walk away and be on my own; or just with you and no one else.
What to say besides saying I miss you? How to define who you were? Impossible really.
It is tempting to start with “I first met you in … “ but I don’t want to write a narrative of a friendship of 34 years. It is more than I can do; not right now anyway.
What I can say is you were two sorts of people in one. You were your own man and you knew how to work with others. That’s a rare gift and you did it like nobody else ever has. How did you do that; how did you do that? I admired you so much, envied you, wanted to emulate you and never could. Maybe it came from playing music in a group, being your own individual musician and being part of the sound of the group of musicians. More likely it was just you and how you made your way in life.
Your contributions to our science were the same — uniquely yours and part of a group at the same time. That’s hard to do but you did it. And you did it often. I wonder just how many groups you have worked with and how many projects’ successes you have ensured?
And you were also theoretician and practitioner rolled into one. You understood the theory of seismic traveltimes as well as anyone I’ve met and you could diagnose and repair a faulty airgun with the same level of intellectual intuition. How did you do that? I admired you so much, envied you and wanted to emulate you but never could.
Now there are so few I admire, fewer still that I envy and there is no one I want to emulate.
You helped a lot of people make their careers, and I am one of them. I don’t know why it should take till now but thank you John, thank you.
You helped a lot more people than ever helped you. You always acted like you didn’t need anyone’s help – that was John the strong, independent individual — but that was never true. I wish I could have been as good a friend to you as you were to me, to have helped you as much as you helped me.
When Marcus Langseth died I made some remarks at his funeral and was searching for things to say when I came across a quote that I can’t find anymore, so I may not have it quite right, but it is something like:
“When you lose a friend you lose part of yourself, and it’s always one of the best parts.”
In loosing you we have all lost one of the best parts of ourselves, a part that you made within us.
Rest in peace dear friend,
Your admirer, John
Sorry to hear of john’s passing.I have great memories of him from Conrad days
I have posted a diary of my few days in Ghana in January as s Bamboo Bike factory was being set up.
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