Conversation

Friday August 19, 2005

Not sure there’s much to say about today. Externally, there’s been good news, bad news, and sad news, too. Inside the little old house by the fens it’s been quiet, devoted to gentle industry of the computer programming kind.

I tend to work in bursts, broken by necessity. I find it best to work for a while, break to do some domestic chore or other, and then return to my desk armed with a fresh mug of coffee for another session. That way the chores get done without becoming a burden, and I don’t sit long enough for my spine and legs to complain.

I finished my computer program, and I’m grateful for the two or three days it’s given me of heads-down concentration, concentration of the pleasant kind. As to the result, well, it’s very nice, but I can live without it. I doubt I’ll use it, in fact I’m rather more inclined to junk it as a piece of unnecessary mental clutter.

In the old days I used to counsel against unnecessary computing, saying that each new line of code is a future maintenance burden. “If you really need it, make sure it’s good plain, simple code, lessening that future burden,” I would say. Some people listened. Most did not. The way that bug-fixing and maintenance departments grow and grow in large software corporations is evidence that most did not, and still do not.

The lesson of Thoreau’s stones stays mostly unlearnt.

I have the luxury now of being able to spend a few days doing something pleasant and then junking the result, taking my joy from the doing rather than from the product. On programming, it’s good to know I can still do it. On programs, well, I can take them or leave them and, mostly, I choose the latter.

It’s been a cool day, with the air washed clean and soft by frequent rain showers. When I woke I went round the house turning off the fans I’ve had running at low speed to maintain an illusion of air movement while it’s been hot. I find it easier to breath in hot weather when there’s some movement of air about me. Oh, but the blessed silence when the fans stop! Dolly, though she appreciates the cooling effect of the fans, looked at me with something perilously close to appreciation when I turned them off. She enjoys the silence at least as much as do I.

I should have gone out to Spilsby to pick up a new supply of green waste bags and to collect my new nitro spray bottle. Just didn’t seem the right kind of day for it, somehow. I was enjoying my period of quiet industry too much to want to break into it before it was done. I’ll go on Monday afternoon.

This evening, standing in the living-room window, looking out at the rain and watching the grass grow, a quiet feeling of calm came over me. I’m living through a very happy period just now. Not terribly interesting, just quiet and calm.

The kind of calm when, if you stay still long enough, and stop thinking of your own busy little affairs, you can hear the earth and the sky speak slow and easy to one another. I don’t think our small concerns figure very large in their conversation.

 

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