Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Design Principles Behind Smalltalk

Personal Mastery: If a system is to serve the creative spirit, it must be entirely comprehensible to a single individual. -Daniel H. H. Ingalls

Design Principles Behind Smalltalk

Thursday, November 29, 2007

If you want to build a ship

If you want something really important to be done you must not merely satisfy the reason, you must move the heart also.
---Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)


If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people together to collect
wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.
--Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Monday, November 26, 2007

"Words from the Front" by Ron Padgett

Poem: "Words from the Front" by Ron Padgett, from How to Be Perfect. © Coffee House Press, 2007. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

Words from the Front

We don't look as young
as we used to
except in dim light
especially in
the soft warmth of candlelight
when we say
in all sincerity
You're so cute
and
You're my cutie.
Imagine
two old people
behaving like this.
It's enough
to make you happy.

"If You Knew" by Ellen Bass

Poem: "If You Knew" by Ellen Bass, from The Human Line. © Copper Canyon Press, 2007. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

If You Knew

What if you knew you'd be the last
to touch someone?
If you were taking tickets, for example,
at the theater, tearing them,
giving back the ragged stubs,
you might take care to touch that palm,
brush your fingertips
along the life line's crease.

When a man pulls his wheeled suitcase
too slowly through the airport, when
the car in front of me doesn't signal,
when the clerk at the pharmacy
won't way Thank you, I don't remember
they're going to die.

A friend told me she'd been with her aunt.
They'd just had lunch and the waiter,
a young gay man with plum black eyes,
joked as he served the coffee, kissed
her aunt's powdered cheek when they left.
Then they walked a half a block and her aunt
dropped dead on the sidewalk.

How close does the dragon's spume
have to come? How wide does the crack
in heaven have to split?
What would people look like
if we could see them as they are,
soaked in honey, stung and swollen,
reckless, pinned against time?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Poem: "Toast" by Susan Deborah King, from The One-Breasted Woman. © Holy Cow! Press, 2007. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

Toast

It's worth getting up for.
Just at dawn, on a dead-of-winter walk,
I could smell it wafting from homes
all around the lake as they
emerged from the dark like loaves
from an oven, steaming.
Is there an aroma more divine
than that of bread warming, bread
browning, crisping for the spread
of butter and marmalade, the sprinkling
of sugared cinnamon? Whatever
terrors the night might harbor,
how bad can it get, if hot slices
stack our morning plate, the white
ones patterned with cobalt blue?
It's what in the current vernacular
we'll all eventually be: a pleasant
redolence rising and haloing
a roughed up, frozen expanse –
for such days, we make
not-too-burnt offerings of thanks;
we raise our glasses of juice.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

What most people call change is superficial crap.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Poem: "Unwise Purchases" by George Bilgere from Haywire. © Utah State University Press. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

Unwise Purchases

They sit around the house
not doing much of anything: the boxed set
of the complete works of Verdi, unopened.
The complete Proust, unread:

The French-cut silk shirts
which hang like expensive ghosts in the closet
and make me look exactly
like the kind of middle-aged man
who would wear a French-cut silk shirt:

The reflector telescope I thought would unlock
the mysteries of the heavens
but which I only used once or twice
to try to find something heavenly
in the windows of the high-rise down the road,
and which now stares disconsolately at the ceiling
when it could be examining the Crab Nebula:

The 30-day course in Spanish
whose text I never opened,
whose dozen cassette tapes remain unplayed,

save for Tape One, where I never learned
whether the suave American
conversing with a sultry-sounding desk clerk
at a Madrid hotel about the possibility
of obtaining a room
actually managed to check in.

I like to think
that one thing led to another between them
and that by Tape Six or so
they're happily married
and raising a bilingual child in Seville or Terra Haute.

But I'll never know.
Suddenly I realize
I have constructed the perfect home
for a sexy, Spanish-speaking astronomer
who reads Proust while listening to Italian arias,

and I wonder if somewhere in this teeming city
there lives a woman with, say,
a fencing foil gathering dust in the corner
near her unused easel, a rainbow of oil paints
drying in their tubes

on the table where the violin
she bought on a whim
lies entombed in the permanent darkness
of its locked case
next to the abandoned chess set,

a woman who has always dreamed of becoming
the kind of woman the man I've always dreamed of becoming
has always dreamed of meeting.

And while the two of them discuss star clusters
and C├ęzanne, while they fence delicately
in Castilian Spanish to the strains of Rigoletto,

she and I will stand in the steamy kitchen,
fixing up a little risotto,
enjoying a modest cabernet,
while talking over a day so ordinary
as to seem miraculous.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Poem: "Advice to Myself" by Louise Erdrich, from Original Fire: Selected and New Poems. © Harper Collins Publishers, 2003. Reprinted with permission.(buy now)

Advice to Myself

Leave the dishes.
Let the celery rot in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator
and an earthen scum harden on the kitchen floor.
Leave the black crumbs in the bottom of the toaster.
Throw the cracked bowl out and don't patch the cup.
Don't patch anything. Don't mend. Buy safety pins.
Don't even sew on a button.
Let the wind have its way, then the earth
that invades as dust and then the dead
foaming up in gray rolls underneath the couch.
Talk to them. Tell them they are welcome.
Don't keep all the pieces of the puzzles
or the doll's tiny shoes in pairs, don't worry
who uses whose toothbrush or if anything
matches, at all.
Except one word to another. Or a thought.
Pursue the authentic-decide first
what is authentic,
then go after it with all your heart.
Your heart, that place
you don't even think of cleaning out.
That closet stuffed with savage mementos.
Don't sort the paper clips from screws from saved baby teeth
or worry if we're all eating cereal for dinner
again. Don't answer the telephone, ever,
or weep over anything at all that breaks.
Pink molds will grow within those sealed cartons
in the refrigerator. Accept new forms of life
and talk to the dead
who drift in though the screened windows, who collect
patiently on the tops of food jars and books.
Recycle the mail, don't read it, don't read anything
except what destroys
the insulation between yourself and your experience
or what pulls down or what strikes at or what shatters
this ruse you call necessity.

Poem: "Jet" by Tony Hoagland, from Donkey Gospel. © Graywolf Press, 1998. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

Jet

Sometimes I wish I were still out
on the back porch, drinking jet fuel
with the boys, getting louder and louder
as the empty cans drop out of our paws
like booster rockets falling back to Earth

and we soar up into the summer stars.
Summer. The big sky river rushes overhead,
bearing asteroids and mist, blind fish
and old space suits with skeletons inside.
On Earth, men celebrate their hairiness,

and it is good, a way of letting life
out of the box, uncapping the bottle
to let the effervescence gush
through the narrow, usually constricted neck.

And now the crickets plug in their appliances
in unison, and then the fireflies flash
dots and dashes in the grass, like punctuation
for the labyrinthine, untrue tales of sex
someone is telling in the dark, though

no one really hears. We gaze into the night
as if remembering the bright unbroken planet
we once came from,
to which we will never
be permitted to return.
We are amazed how hurt we are.
We would give anything for what we have.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Poem:"Earl" by Louis Jenkins, from North of the Cities. © Will o' the Wisp Books, 2007. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

Earl

In Sitka, because they are fond of them,
People have named the seals. Every seal
is named Earl because they are killed one
after another by the orca, the killer
whale; seal bodies tossed left and right
into the air. "At least he didn't get
Earl," someone says. And sure enough,
after a time, that same friendly,
bewhiskered face bobs to the surface.
It's Earl again. Well, how else are you
to live except by denial, by some
palatable fiction, some little song to
sing while the inevitable, the black and
white blindsiding fact, comes hurtling
toward you out of the deep?

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Poem: "The Calf-Path" by Sam Walter Foss. Public Domain

The Calf-Path

One day through the primeval wood
A calf walked home as good calves should;
But made a trail all bent askew,
A crooked trail as all calves do.
Since then three hundred years have fled,
And I infer the calf is dead.
But still he left behind his trail,
And thereby hangs my moral tale.
The trail was taken up next day
By a lone dog that passed that way;
And then a wise bell–wether sheep
Pursued the trail o'er vale and steep,
And drew the flock behind him, too,
As good bell–wethers always do.
And from that day, o'er hill and glade,
Through those old woods a path was made.
And many men wound in and out,
And dodged and turned and bent about,
And uttered words of righteous wrath
Because 'twas such a crooked path;
But still they followed – do not laugh -
The first migrations of that calf,
And though this winding wood-way stalked
Because he wobbled when he walked.
This forest path became a lane
That bent and turned and turned again;
This crooked lane became a road,
Where many a poor horse with his load
Toiled on beneath the burning sun,
And thus a century and a half
They trod the footsteps of that calf.
The years passed on in swiftness fleet,
The road became a village street;
And this, before men were aware,
A city's crowded thoroughfare.
And soon the central street was this
Of a renowned metropolis;
And men two centuries and a half
Trod in the footsteps of that calf.
Each day a hundred thousand rout
Followed this zigzag calf about
And o'er his crooked journey went
The traffic of a continent.
A hundred thousand men were led
By one calf near three centuries dead.
They followed still his crooked way.
And lost one hundred years a day,
For thus such reverence is lent
To well-established precedent.
A moral lesson this might teach
Were I ordained and called to preach;
For men are prone to go it blind
Along the calf-paths of the mind,
And work away from sun to sun
To do what other men have done.
They follow in the beaten track,
And out and in, and forth and back,
And still their devious course pursue,
To keep the path that others do.
They keep the path a sacred groove,
Along which all their lives they move;
But how the wise old wood-gods laugh,
Who saw the first primeval calf.
Ah, many things this tale might teach —
But I am not ordained to preach.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Poem: "Choices" by Tess Gallagher, from Dear Ghosts. © Graywolf Press, 2006. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

Choices

I go to the mountain side
of the house to cut saplings,
and clear a view to snow
on the mountain. But when I look up,
saw in hand, I see a nest clutched in
the uppermost branches.
I don't cut that one.
I don't cut the others either.
Suddenly, in every tree,
an unseen nest
where a mountain
would be.

for Drago Stambuk

Friday, August 03, 2007

"Tell Me" by Anne Pierson Wiese, from Floating City: Poems. © Louisiana State University Press, 2007. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

Tell Me

There are many people who spend their nights
on the subway trains. Often one encounters
them on the morning commute, settled in corners,
coats over their heads, ragged possessions heaped
around themselves, trying to remain in their own night.

This man was already up, bracing himself against
the motion of the train as he folded his blanket
the way my mother taught me, and donned his antique blazer,
his elderly, sleep-soft eyes checking for the total effect.

Whoever you are-tell me what unforgiving series
of moments has added up to this one: a man
making himself presentable to the world in front
of the world, as if life has revealed to him the secret
that all our secrets from one another are imaginary.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

At the Children's Violin Concert

Firmly bowed
strands of horse hair
tightened or
gathered up by
a small hand to play
a piece by J.S. Bach
who drank 36 cups of coffee every day.

I like him because he was
inspired by his belief in God
& he played the organ in a church
in Leipzig & he walked on
cobblestone streets to his home
every evening where he fathered
many children & wrote music
for his wife to clean house by.
He worked hard all his life
& when he died, he left us
all the little notes he made
for himself while he was alone.


-Susan Cataldo

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Live deeply
life is too short
take off your shoes

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

I'm learning scheme, and I came upon this wonderful chunk of code:

(define is-even?
(lambda (n)
(if (= n 0) #t
(is-odd? (- n 1)))))

(define is-odd?
(lambda (n)
(if (= n 0) #f
(is-even? (- n 1)))))

Thursday, April 12, 2007

A language that doesn’t affect the way you think about programming is not worth knowing.
– Alan Perlis

Wednesday, April 11, 2007



I was always one for being alone,
Seeking in my own way, eternal purpose;
At the edge of the field waiting for the pure moment;
Standing, silent, on sandy beaches or walking along green embankments;
Knowing the sinuousness of small waters:
As a chip or shell, floating lazily with a slow current...
-Theodore Roethke

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Shapes of Leaves
by Arthur Sze

Ginkgo, cottonwood, pin oak, sweet gum, tulip tree:

our emotions resemble leaves and alive

to their shapes we are nourished.



Have you felt the expanse and contours of grief

along the edges of a big Norway maple?

Have you winced at the orange flare



searing the curves of a curling dogwood?

I have seen from the air logged islands,

each with a network of branching gravel roads,



and felt a moment of pure anger, aspen gold.

I have seen sandhill cranes moving in an open field,

a single white whooping crane in the flock.



And I have traveled along the contours

of leaves that have no name. Here

where the air is wet and the light is cool,



I feel what others are thinking and do not speak,

I know pleasure in the veins of a sugar maple,

I am living at the edge of a new leaf.

Monday, April 02, 2007

teach me, stream,
to polish haiku,
before spring
sends them down the
mountain giggling


robert d. wilson

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

so you want to be a writer?
by Charles Bukowski

if it doesn't come bursting out of you

in spite of everything,

don't do it.

unless it comes unasked out of your

heart and your mind and your mouth

and your gut,

don't do it.

if you have to sit for hours

staring at your computer screen

or hunched over your

typewriter

searching for words,

don't do it.

if you're doing it for money or

fame,

don't do it.

if you're doing it because you want

women in your bed,

don't do it.

if you have to sit there and

rewrite it again and again,

don't do it.

if it's hard work just thinking about doing it,

don't do it.

if you're trying to write like somebody

else,

forget about it.





if you have to wait for it to roar out of

you,

then wait patiently.

if it never does roar out of you,

do something else.



if you first have to read it to your wife

or your girlfriend or your boyfriend

or your parents or to anybody at all,

you're not ready.



don't be like so many writers,

don't be like so many thousands of

people who call themselves writers,

don't be dull and boring and

pretentious, don't be consumed with self-

love.

the libraries of the world have

yawned themselves to

sleep

over your kind.

don't add to that.

don't do it.

unless it comes out of

your soul like a rocket,

unless being still would

drive you to madness or

suicide or murder,

don't do it.

unless the sun inside you is

burning your gut,

don't do it.



when it is truly time,

and if you have been chosen,

it will do it by

itself and it will keep on doing it

until you die or it dies in you.



there is no other way.



and there never was.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Castalia

I think someone should write a series of novels combining Castalia from the Glass Bead Game and Psycho-history from the Foundation series. And that the plot should revolve around math and logic puzzles. Maybe a little like The Name of The Rose.

http://castalia.stever.cc/

Friday, February 16, 2007

winter lake -
only my eyes
disturb the view

Chaffinch

http://tinywords.com/haiku/2007/02/15/

'Always come back out the way you went in (if this is convenient). The purpose being to ensure that the universe maintains its structure as this expresses itself in the individual.' Anon Domino

About the author: Chaffinch: sunbeam_city7 at hotmail dot com

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Hackers and Painters

If a hacker were a mere implementor, turning a spec into code, then he could just work his way through it from one end to the other like someone digging a ditch. But if the hacker is a creator, we have to take inspiration into account.

In hacking, like painting, work comes in cycles. Sometimes you get excited about some new project and you want to work sixteen hours a day on it. Other times nothing seems interesting.

To do good work you have to take these cycles into account, because they're affected by how you react to them. When you're driving a car with a manual transmission on a hill, you have to back off the clutch sometimes to avoid stalling. Backing off can likewise prevent ambition from stalling. In both painting and hacking there are some tasks that are terrifyingly ambitious, and others that are comfortingly routine. It's a good idea to save some easy tasks for moments when you would otherwise stall.

In hacking, this can literally mean saving up bugs. I like debugging: it's the one time that hacking is as straightforward as people think it is. You have a totally constrained problem, and all you have to do is solve it. Your program is supposed to do x. Instead it does y. Where does it go wrong? You know you're going to win in the end. It's as relaxing as painting a wall.

- paul graham

Thursday, January 18, 2007

"A rooster crows only when it sees the light. Put him in the dark and he'll never crow. I have seen the light and I'm crowing."
-Muhammad Ali

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Be Drunk

Be Drunk
by Charles Baudelaire
Translated by Louis Simpson


You have to be always drunk. That's all there is to it--it's the
only way. So as not to feel the horrible burden of time that breaks
your back and bends you to the earth, you have to be continually
drunk.
But on what? Wine, poetry or virtue, as you wish. But be
drunk.
And if sometimes, on the steps of a palace or the green grass of
a ditch, in the mournful solitude of your room, you wake again,
drunkenness already diminishing or gone, ask the wind, the wave,
the star, the bird, the clock, everything that is flying, everything
that is groaning, everything that is rolling, everything that is
singing, everything that is speaking. . .ask what time it is and
wind, wave, star, bird, clock will answer you: "It is time to be
drunk! So as not to be the martyred slaves of time, be drunk, be
continually drunk! On wine, on poetry or on virtue as you wish."

Discovered Baudelaire

I mean it's not as though I wasn't aware of existence. But I didn't realize how much I liked his poetry until I read the Nikopol Trilogy.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Baudelaire
... If rape or arson, poison, or the knife
Has wove no pleasing patterns in the stuff
Of this drab canvas we accept as life—
It is because we are not bold enough!

(Roy Campbell's translation)