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Macheide’s Aurelian Dream

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The Contingencies Article – Background

As noted in the preface page of this post, I was the author of “Next Best Thing to an Aurelian Dream,” which was published in the September/October 1990 issue of Contingencies.

I’d been the key driving spirit behind the creation of the Pension Industry Bulletin Board System that was the “next best thing” mentioned in my article, and I had been rather close to the editors who had at that time only recently launched the actuarial magazine; so it seemed only natural to be asked to write an article publicizing our new enterprise. Except, I had a personal problem, one I was assured would bother nobody else, but which I took seriously: I was at that time also an assistant editor for the Enrolled Actuaries Report (EAR); I’d just finished writing an article for EAR about the new electronic bulletin board; and I didn’t wish to duplicate that EAR article for Contingencies. So then, what to do?

The solution to my self-imposed dilemma came to me pretty much the way I describe in my Contingencies article: during a light dream while falling asleep on a train ride coming into Washington, D.C. And yes, the article didn’t need to imagine very much creatively on its own: it describes rather accurately what I did dream. I had been struggling against the background that the EAR article was dryly factual: how to get connected to the new bulletin board, what one might find there, how to post new content, plans for future development, et cetera. Pressing my urge to diverge against a Contingencies deadline during that train ride, my dreaming launched into a visual representation of what we were actually attempting to launch. Or maybe to be honest about it without meaning to be egotistic: what I was attempting to launch, since the others were acting only after I had poked and prodded and networked for several years trying to get the thing going, and since only I was the one sketching out any plans for where it was meant to be going. Macheide’s aurelian dream . . .

Actually, the Contingencies article very nearly never made it to press, I gather. The magazine editors simply didn’t know quite what to make of what I’d written, as they suggest in the preface they tacked on. And apparently leery of trying to get me to translate — I already then had a reputation for being somewhat inaccessible, I suppose — they turned to Art Anderson, another actuary who was to eventually be key to my own actuarial career off and on over the years. Art at that time was the magazine’s main consultant on its fledgling software review column, under which my article was to be published. From what I heard, Art was thoroughly on board with my article, urging the magazine editors that they could not possibly neglect to send it to the printer without changing a single word. Thanks, Art. Seriously. And thanks, Contingencies.

I did carefully choose each and every word, each and every phrase. Then again, as I’ve noted, my article rather closely reflects the dream I dreamed on that dream. Should I “shovel the glimpse into the ditch,” as Dylan sang? Nah, this post eventually will go fairly down the road in doing so. But after almost 25 years after I wrote it, for the benefit of nobody in particular other than my own dreaming, I’ll at least provide a bit more background to what I was writing about in that article. Next page to this post, please ….

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Written by macheide

30 March 2015 at 4:08 pm

Posted in macheide

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