11 December 2006

Mourning James Kim, Oberlin College '93

My wife and I had pretty much convinced ourselves that James Kim, the San Francisco man who died of hypothermia in Southern Oregon, while trying to hike to find help for his wife and two young children, wasn't the James Kim we went to college with.

After all, Kim is a dime a dozen name in California, and James was a popular name for boys in 1971. But, his age wasn't reassuring, and lots of Korean Americans in our circle of friends and family had moved to the West Coast when they got out of college. Today, I took a moment to investigate. Wikipedia was the bearer of bad news. The James Kim who died was the man we'd known as a classmate.

Kim made a career out of bringing technology to the world through his job at CNET. But, this time technology failed. It's easy to forget just how close a world beyond the urban safety net is, when you live in it every day. Before our children were born, my wife and I once nearly got our car stuck in the snow on a dirt road in Colorado's mountains, on the 4th of July. Out there, in the wilderness, the unexpected can happen, things can go wrong, you have to make decisions with imperfect information, and your choices can be a matter of life and death. Nobody is lucky enough to always make the right call when faced with imperfect information.

Our hearts are with his family at this horrible moment.

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