Wow… very interesting write up.
“ The only thing I have is a fast-synced Ethereum blockchain fully cashed in RAM” — looks like you were doing some cool stuff at work to have that amount of RAM available… that is not an amount for casuals.
“Have I said I’m an Ethereum-moron? Because I am. I genuinely tried to grep the blockchain files on-disk. 😳” got me thinking about how to model this much more efficiently. With all of this big data stuff being built, I’m sure there is a tool that could make it easier. A preliminary search shows not much interesting in the way of this.
So much of this space is just people relying on “smart people” who are also relying on “smart” people… turtles all the way down! It is rare that I come across someone who can cogently walk me through the transaction process, and even rarer, someone who has actually played with the API.
Hope you have some fun experiments in mind that you want to try out in the world.