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Compelled to:
Wednesday, February 26, 2003  permanent URL for this entry

I couldn't think why they had come to me, specificially. And I wasn't about to ask.

Normally I'm a stone-piler. I arrange the rough-surfaced grey and green and white stones along the ocean shore into patterns and piles. Those who come and see the stones leave things there, in their shadows and between the footprints, and I gather them.

Some of the stones are heavy, and the waves never stop. It's a hard life, but it keeps me fed and fit. If I want to live to shrink and shrivel and grow a hard shell and become an immortal sea turtle, that's what I need.

They came to the shore with a large party, that had swarmed around them to set up the place where we were sitting, on soft seats with verdant carpet under our feet. The murmur of a concealed choir came from somewhere out of sight.

They sat opposite me, side by side, two sleek brown marmots with businesslike faces. Only one of them spoke.

"This key has come into our possession," he said, and he held out the bit of brass. It shone in the salty sun, pure and smooth from the heat of some unimaginable fire.

"We have reason to believe --" and here he looked at his silent companion, who nodded just perceptibly, confirming that whatever decision they had made was still the right one, "to believe that there is, somewhere in the world, a door which this key fits."

Then I knew why they had come to me and no one else. For you see, I am invisible.

Tuesday, February 25, 2003  permanent URL for this entry

Note that, for the sin of complaining too much about the mere 56K line available to me last week, the vengeful demi-gods of the wires have bolixed up the DSL line at home (Verizon's sending someone around tomorrow to look at it), and ensured that I'd be too busy at work to remember to do any weblogging while there.

So expect sporadic updates for some unguessable period.

I finished The Man Who Liked Slow Tomatoes. Not uplifting! Review just posted off toward Amazon:

Well-crafted, but dreary (three stars)

The writing here is good, very good, and the characters are subtly and richly drawn. The setting and dialog are convincing, and the emotions will stay with you. Which is perhaps the problem!

There is no redemption here. The mood and events are dark, the deaths pointless. There is no brain-teasing mystery, no real lesson about human nature beyond that it can be ugly and destructive. I don't normally wonder about the point of books, but I have to admit that after this one I did. What was the point of all that? Did I need to be reminded that life can be painful? Maybe I did. In retrospect I think it was worth the time to read, but I can't say I _enjoyed_ it.

There are a very few technical flaws (the drug-dealer side-plot seemed entirely unnecessary, and the sudden solving of the "mystery" at the end was abrupt and not entirely convincing), but my complaint about this book is not with the execution, but rather with the nature of the project. A single beam of light would, I think, have made this a more worthwhile work.

A reader writes:

anonymous inner classes are closures

Indeed they are! (Closures of the uses of the local variables of the enclosing block, anyway.) The first time I've actually used closures in an Algol-family language, I think.

So you can say, for instance:

for (int frobIndex=0;frobIndex<frobs.size();frobIndex++) {
  frobs[frobIndex].addThingListener(new ThingListener() {
    void thingHappened(Event e) {

And each of the anonymous ThingListeners thus created will have its own special value of frobIndex baked into it, and will call frobFrobbed with the right first argument even after the frobIndex variable is gone and forgotten. What will they think of next?

Spam subject lines of the week:

Chessmp The time is now ekko

Would you like to own Friend@Friendlastname.com?

Most People Do Not Want You To Do This.

And one spam offer I can't resist posting, even though it's so obvious:

Avoid the hassle, and always stand out with your own personalized e-mail address: Null@NullNull.com Now that's unforgettable!

Click here to get Null@NullNull.com now.

Now that's unforgettable.

And finally one odd letter from a stranger that I can't quite classify. I suspect it's spammerbait, and if I answer it'll just add my email address to another thousand lists, but at least it's different:

I have discovered Banana Nut Cappuccino which I absolutely love, However I have only been able to purchase it ay Sunoco's mini marts. My problem is that Banana Nut is not always available, Is it possible that you provide information on how I can purchase this . Looking forward to hearing from you.

My problem is that Banana Nut is not always available.


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