Glass Breaking

I don't know for sure when I decided that the kayakers behind us were in trouble. Our minds were occupied by the chaos around us, and the situation kind of snuck up on us. Barton Creek was in flood, and it was pounding furiously. We'd left with 10 paddlers, but needed to keep a safe distance.

We divided into groups of three so that each group could keep an eye on the others. The day had already started badly; a fireman in an unrelated party had died on this same stretch of creek. An expert boater had been foolishly paddling alone. Now, we had problems of our own.

After we'd paddled for about an hour, we pulled over into a huge eddy to get the group together and plan our assault on the next dangerous stretch of river. In truth, the banks were very dangerous, with trees that could trap you like a kitchen strainer while the water piled up and poured over you, but the main lines were pretty straightforward. I'd flipped once, but rolled back up easily. But we'd passed a few places that could have given you trouble, had you been unlucky enough to blunder into them, or too cocky to skirt the danger. The last party of three was missing, and we had no way of getting back up the river. We waited for two hours, but the last group of three failed to join us. We waited until there was little daylight left, and then we headed down the river. Eventually, we discovered that one in the trailing party had tried to punch a hole that none of us was brave or stupid enough to run, and had to be rescued by helicopter. I've never run Barton Creek again with water that high.

I've developed a good instinct for trouble on the river, and at work. In this profession, I generally know when a technology smells wrong, or dangerous, and I guide my customers away. I'm sensing that danger around Java right now. It's getting too difficult to manage, and both evolutionary and revolutionary steps to remedy the problem are failing us. In this chapter, I'll introduce some of the basic problems.