Monday 29 May 2000


Pic of the day: Rereading on the bus The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever by Stephen Donaldson. This masterpiece of magic fantasy details an incurably sick man who is thrown into a world of magic and beauty and asked to save it, but who doesn't know how. Or is it that he doesn't really want to? It's hard for the reader to know, when he doesn't even know himself.

Magnus the Magus

I like to think that if I had lived in a world with magic instead of technology, I would have been a wizard or mage. Certainly this is what my dreams tell me. Quite a few of these since puberty have placed me in worlds strikingly different from our own, worlds filled with magic. And pretty much every time there is magic in a world, I wield it naturally.

I guess this is how I come across in this world too, for those not too intimate with the workings of computers. And it certainly seems to be some innate talent, happily coexisting with intelligence but not the same thing. Some highly intelligent people shrink back at the sight of a simple markup language like HTML, not to mention a full blown programming language with procedures, functions and control structures. I used to program for fun when I was younger. At the height of it, I made my own word processors, and even a simple assembler. Now, to those not in the know: Programming in assembler is sort of like digging with a teaspoon. You want precision? You got precision. You actually control each single instruction that the chip performs. I guess I did have more time on my hands than I knew, back then...

I had programming as a hobby, or perhaps lifestyle, for years; until I sort of burned out at the end of the debt collection thing. It was no fun anymore when I was pressured into doing it, and I have never quite regained my love for this art.

But I still have a pretty good idea of how programs work, what they can and cannot do. To my coworkers, much of this must seem at least as arcane as handwaving and spell books and wands. "How did you know what key to press?" "I asked the program. See there? 'Press F1 for help'." "But I didn't want help, I just wanted to get out of there!"

At least people have largely stopped calling me in the middle of the night.


And now for something entirely different. Well, except for the "too much time on hand" thing, I guess most of you may say.

I read in the Bible the other day, Jesus said that all blasphemy would be forgiven except blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. (Yeah, I know some insist that the name is Holy Ghost. I can't see how that takes people any farther from blasphemy, though. Ghost doesn't mean the same thing now as it did in King James' time.) Anyway, I really hope that someone is forgiven for some humorous references to religous entities. And this someone is the creator of the online comic, which I found linked in today's Nova Notes, of all places. I've spent the entire evening reading the whole thing from start to finish. It's not all about God and the Devil and angels, though they do feature prominently. So it's not exactly "Hidden Treasures" but it's not a sinfest either. It's great art and great humor which sometimes does touch religious matters.


Anyway, there went the evening. I came home from work and thought that perhaps I should go outside and take some pictures of the pine shots. The small pines have sprouted some long, light green new shots. But first I decided to play some Sims while the computer was cold. And then I just wanted to look at some of my favorite online journals. And then I found that online comic. And then it was midnight. Well, I must have done some e-mail somewhere in there too. But no pine pics.

My irrational exuberance is somewhat subdued by having that upper jaw / sinus thing tonight again. No fever, though. I wonder if I should see a doctor or a dentist or something, since I've complained about this for over a year and a half now and not done anyting about it ... Perhaps I prefer complaining?

Too bad you can't program such things away ... or perhaps you can? I've found over the years that body and soul are very intertwined. It is hopeless to say where one ends and the other begins. For instance I've found that small opportunistic infections like this one, or cold sores, come when I don't get enough sleep. But do I go to sleep early for that? Well, not exactly.

But real soon now.

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