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  • As Mark Twain once quipped,

  • "If I had more time I would have written a shorter letter."

  • There's a pair of videos on my channel

  • that were in the works for over a year.

  • The Tekoi Videos.

  • One exploration and one explanation.

  • And while the exploration video is fine,

  • I made a catastrophic error in the explanation video.

  • I've re-uploaded a corrected version,

  • and I've also made this video

  • to show you some of the behind-the-scenes

  • of how those videos got made,

  • how the error got in,

  • and how the decision to re-upload came to be.

  • But I've written this video in as little time as possible

  • to correct the error as fast as possible.

  • So, be warned.

  • It's a long letter.

  • The story of Tekoi starts with Past-Grey traveling

  • to Indian reservations foran other project.

  • During that wandering,

  • I came across the Skull Valley Indian Reservation

  • out in Utah, and within its borders,

  • the Tekoi Test Range,

  • information about which was limited and scattered.

  • I got the impression it was an

  • abandoned military weapons facility.

  • Which, come on!

  • Three more intriguing adjectives

  • you could not precede a noun.

  • At this point on YouTube,

  • I'd played around with making

  • a few vlog-style videos,

  • and while working on the bigger project,

  • I thought Tekoi could be a little shard to examine

  • to make into an easy and quick vlog,

  • exploring the place and explaining what it was.

  • And the Tribal Government graciously

  • granted me permission to go on site and film.

  • Which, as a side note, please do not try to visit Tekoi.

  • It is private property,

  • not open to the public,

  • and super dangerous.

  • In retrospect, I was shockingly stupid

  • to explore it in as unprepared fashion as I did.

  • But, I went, I filmed.

  • I didn't fall in a hole and die,

  • or catch histoplasmosis from the

  • bat droppings everywhere.

  • And I didn't get attacked by

  • the "really mean owl" I was warned

  • defended warehouse number

  • Oh, I forgot to write it down!

  • Seriously.

  • I could not have been a worse UrbEx newb.

  • But the celestial dice rolled in my favor that day

  • and I got back to my hotel with some amazing video.

  • Now all I needed to do

  • was explain this beautiful shard.

  • Of course, joke was on me because

  • every topic is an entire world

  • unto itself once you start looking,

  • and months later, the one video split into two

  • and I was barely closer to a

  • coherent explanation of Tekoi then at the start.

  • Okay, pause here,

  • and let me tell you a little about

  • the video production process in general.

  • Videos get started either through wandering

  • the real world or

  • the Forest of All Knowledge,

  • seeing an interesting area,

  • exploring it and, if lucky,

  • some part will look like it could be a video.

  • I've come to accept that I am a slow writer,

  • so it's best to hold off the first serious draft

  • until long into the exploration phase.

  • Often long enough that by the time I get to the

  • "Okay, seriously, sit down and write this thing,"

  • I've forgotten a lot of what I've read.

  • But that's actually a useful way to filter

  • for the interesting and important

  • and frequent ideas in a topic

  • before the many, many rounds

  • of revisions and checks to come.

  • I used to make my videos all alone,

  • but over the years, I've gathered a small team,

  • and at some point,

  • if I can get the script into a readable "ish" version,

  • it's time to let the team know what the next project might be.

  • And there is celebration or dread at what will be

  • at least many weeks of their lives spent on this thing.

  • Everyone has a specialty.

  • Animation

  • Research

  • Logistics

  • Music

  • Sometimes custom artwork or audio.

  • And everyone provides useful feedback on the topic,

  • sometimes having personal experience,

  • or finding further details,

  • or hunting down related lost artifacts.

  • For me, there's also a lot of double-checking at this point,

  • going back to notes I made during exploration time,

  • or looking into an out-of-place-seeming fact.

  • The script eventually progresses from merely readable

  • into what is nearing a final (ish) form,

  • and this is were it's sent out to experts.

  • Now this phase seems like it should be the easiest.

  • A teacher checks your homework.

  • But often it's quite troublesome.

  • The first problem is finding an expert.

  • If the video ends up being largely a book or a paper adaptation,

  • and the author is alive,

  • then that's pretty easy,

  • and those projects are generally more straightforward.

  • But for a lot of videos,

  • figuring out who is the expert on this thing

  • isn't always clear.

  • And for some topics,

  • there simply isn't anyone.

  • For others, experts may exist,

  • but finding them is basically impossible

  • because there isn't a good public record of their expertise.

  • This last is particularly frustrating because,

  • the instant the final video goes up,

  • all the un-findable experts will find it and get in touch.

  • Now, in theory, this problem could be solved

  • by publicly announcing what the active topics are.

  • And back when Past-Grey's channel was smaller

  • and he younger and naiver,

  • that's totally a thing he did.

  • But Current-Grey in current year

  • has seen shockingly blatant cases

  • of those who work fast scooping topics

  • from those who work slow.

  • It's not the early days of the Internet any more,

  • and surviving while supporting a team

  • means you must compete with

  • The Entire Entertainment Industry in all its forms.

  • So, some secrecy is necessary.

  • Even though, yes, I'm fully aware I've already divulged

  • what I'm working on in this very video,

  • and I will do it again later,

  • but I'm made an exception.

  • Even though I know from experience

  • I've never not regretted talking about work in progress.

  • Even if the topic is un-scooped or un-scoopable,

  • I just find projects harder to finish

  • once they're out in the open

  • and everyone is watching.

  • Back to the experts.

  • If they exist and we find them,

  • and they're willing to help out,

  • and they're willing to keep a secret

  • (for possibly months),

  • then that's great.

  • But it can still be tricky.

  • For example, which experts?

  • Just about any academic topic will have experts

  • who have spent their entire lives

  • thinking about this one area

  • and who also violently disagree with each other.

  • Which can leave you, the non-expert, to wander

  • dangerously close to the "What is True?" dimension,

  • which, if you're not careful,

  • will suck you into an unproductive, downward spiral

  • of "How do we know anything is true?"

  • This happens to me a least once a month

  • and is a topic which is way beyond

  • the scope of this video.

  • Maybe a story for another time.

  • [under his breath] Ugh, don't say that!

  • Okay, skipping the existential crisis,

  • the script is sent out to experts for checking

  • and then the final draft can be recorded

  • and turned into a video for you to watch.

  • That's how it works in general.

  • Now let's resume the story of Tekoi,

  • skipping ahead to

  • Upload Day!

  • A day that is simultaneously

  • the joyous completion of hundreds

  • of hours of teamwork and

  • the solitude of stomach-churning

  • as you wait to find out if you have been

  • wrong on the Internet.

  • And there are many ways to be

  • wrong on the Internet,

  • which we will visit later,

  • but the process is designed

  • to be able to avoid errors

  • while still being able to publish something

  • (eventually).

  • And in this process,

  • I have learned that my initial impression

  • wasn't quite right.

  • Rather, Tekoi was a tiny part

  • of an enormous for-profit company

  • that used Tekoi as a static firing test range for rocket motors.

  • Motors that just so happened to be used in nuclear missiles,

  • including the famous Minuteman.

  • But there's often so much more

  • left on the cutting room floor,

  • so a new part of the process is

  • doing a director's commentary

  • for crowdfunders with all the extra bits,

  • after I wait a couple of hours

  • to ensure there's no Upload Day disaster

  • that needs immediate attention.

  • The Internet will tell you real fast if you're wrong.

  • But on Tekoi Upload Day,

  • the stomach churning lessened

  • as nothing came in.

  • I went and streamed the commentary

  • in a pretty relieved mood,

  • as this has become a nice, psychological marker for me

  • that a project is truly and completely, finally finished.

  • Doing the commentary kept me up late,

  • but, satisfied with a long days work, I decided,

  • right before trying to sleep,

  • "Let me check the comments one more time."

  • And that is when I found this:

  • the maximum possible stomach-churning comment,

  • asking the audience to imagine what it would be like

  • to do this whole video with the Minuteman missile,

  • but in the video itself is the evidence that

  • it wasn't the Minuteman missile.

  • It was the Trident missile.

  • Oh no.

  • I didn't have to imagine

  • what it was like to do this video.

  • I was the guy who did this video.

  • Not good.

  • At the time I read this comment,

  • basically seconds away from total collapse,

  • I was in no condition to address it.

  • But let's just say I didn't sleep well that night,

  • and we'll skip the depressive,

  • self-destructive, self-doubting part,

  • and jump back to where,

  • with a rebooted brain,

  • I was able to confirm that yes,

  • hootis8 was right and I was wrong.

  • Tekoi did not test Minuteman Missile motors.

  • Tekoi tested Tridents.

  • I even found a poster of one in the

  • exploration video itself!

  • [Past-Grey from Tekoi exploration video] Can't see anything down that corridor.

  • Alright, strategic pride!

  • [game show success sound] ding!

  • [Current-Grey] You may be wondering

  • how I could have spent so long on this topic

  • and yet missed the answer

  • to the most fundamental question.

  • The literal video title.

  • "What Was Tekoi?"

  • Well, me too.

  • So we conducted an autopsy.

  • [under his breath] Oh God, this is only half-way through.

  • It really is a long letter.