log (2009/07/31 to 2009/08/06)

I have the geekiest dreams!

(Apologies for how long it's been since I told you one of my dreams; I know how much everyone enjoys hearing other people tell about their dreams at great length.)

So anyway I dreamed that I was in this big, really big, meeting of a software development team that I was part of, and we were meeting about a big crisis where during some key test the software had done the wrong thing, and people were giving presentations about what was wrong and all.

And it turned out that some subteam had developed a block-structured data access method, and it didn't work very well when a block had to be moved. "It really likes update-in-place", one of them said, and others of us asked if that meant that it broke when a block was moved, and he said that well, basically, yeah.

It turned out (and I have to say even my geeky dreams aren't usually this detailed) that various parts of the program were holding onto the last-seen location of a block as a "hint", but then treating these soi disant hints more like pointers, and so when something was moved the code was still stubbornly looking for it in the old location.

So people suggested that the data be self-identifying, and that if the expected data wasn't found where a hint said it should be, the thing using the hint could find the thing again from scratch using the index; and people suggested that when a thing was moved a little record could be left there saying where it had been moved to, and once in awhile some offline process could go through and remove all of those and reconcile things.

(One little touch that I like: the place where a moved block used to be was for some reason called a "refusa", and so people were proposing that forwarding pointers be left "in the refusas", which sounds interesting and exotic.)

And among all this I was sitting there asking why we had the entire software team sitting around discussing this one little bug, when we should be just telling the subteam to go off and fix it, write a working block access method, or get one from a standard library somewhere or something, so we could all get back to work.

Silly, eh?

From the always-unique Seraphine, we get to ten principles worth reading, for avoiding further economic melt-downs.

Paul Graham is deeply clued, and I don't read him enough (maybe I will more now that I've found his RSS feed). Someone pointed at his recent "Maker's Schedule, Manager's Schedule", which is just brilliant.

Think how much more efficient it would be if the train never stopped at all!

omgwtflol: Justice Stevens Renders an Opinion on Who Wrote Shakespeare's Plays; It Wasn't the Bard of Avon, He Says; 'Evidence Is Beyond a Reasonable Doubt'.

And finally, our headline o' the day: Company Denies its Robots Feed on the Dead.

Comforting! *8)

Like they say, depression hurts. It's also really annoying. One of the reasons it's annoying is that it's so hard to explain; there's no concrete cast on some important body-part, there's no bloody wound that makes it obvious why you're crying or screaming or even just not quite up to par.

Depression hurts in that deep-inside place, somewhere under or behind or inside the breastbone; the place of that sinking feeling you get when something awful happens, or when you're afraid that something will. And there's no reason for it, nothing that you can point to and say, my dog died, my throat hurts, or my splinter hurts, or standing on my left leg hurts. You can't say, being awake hurts, being alive hurts. Because what sense does that make?

Depression hurts, and hurting takes energy and attention. I can tell myself that yeah, nothing's wrong, it's just this again, and it'll be gone in a few hours, or at least by tomorrow. And that helps, but it doesn't make it go away; so some of my energy and my attention are still absorbed by the hurting.

And so depression means being selfish, being not as nice as usual. Because it's all I can do just to move around normally, to get the daily things done, I don't have as much energy as I'd like to spend on making your day better, on making you smile, on anticipating your needs. And when I do manage to do some of those things, it's a conscious effort: ah, I should say something amusing here, I should hug this person now, I should smile now, I should offer to help. It can't be spontaneous, because if I let myself be spontaneous, I'll be curled up under the covers, hoping to sleep, or at least hoping it'll hurt less if I don't do anything.

So I apologize for how I am sometimes, when for no good reason I'm sensitive, or selfish, or absent. And I apologize if I've gotten it all wrong, from your point of view; you may have your own depression which is nothing like mine. If you do, write about it. I think it helps.

Marie is walking in the south field, by the brook, doing nothing as far as I can tell. She is wearing a white blouse and a billowing blue cotton skirt. I am happy just watching her, but as I think this she turns and sees me.

"Well, she's officially a ward of the state, you know."

  "In the care of the Sisters of Providence down the road."

"They do help, lovely women, coming up to check on her, and helping us sell what she makes."

  "But we're her family."

"Since her parents died, the poor things."

  "She's such a dear."

"Oh! There was a boy once."

  "Oh, yes. From one of the farms closer to town."

"He was a little older than Marie."

  "They kissed, I know. And, well..."

"He wanted to marry her!"

  "We had to tell him."

"Persuade him."

  "She wouldn't have understood the vows."

"Wouldn't understand what marriage was. And children..."

  "We told him about the problem in her woman parts."

"That she could never have children."

  "We didn't know then about the surgery."

"But it wouldn't have mattered."

  "She couldn't raise a child."

"She loves children. And children love her."

  "But to raise one! Well..."

She runs up the hill to me, strong and barefoot, and wraps her arms around me. I hug her close, and she wriggles her lush woman's body against me, laughing like no one else laughs. And I close my eyes.

There are seven principles which Unitarian Universalist congregations affirm and promote:

  • The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  • Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
  • Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
  • A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
  • The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
  • The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
  • Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

Unitarian Universalism draws from many sources:

  • Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life;
  • Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love;
  • Wisdom from the world's religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life;
  • Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God's love by loving our neighbors as ourselves;
  • Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit.
  • Spiritual teachings of earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.

These principles and sources of faith are the backbone of our religious community.

Church this morning for the first time in a long time, and it was lovely. I should really get to church more often (but when I'm at home rather than off on vacation in Southern Climes, church conflicts with Sunday Morning Bagels). I think it was the first time the little boy's actually been to an ordinary Sunday morning church service that wasn't a wedding or a memorial or a concert or something. The first time he remembers anyway.

Hymns, silent meditation, good music (including a live performance of "If I had a Hammer" on guitar an' vocals), and a funny and rousing and thought-provoking sermon called "Jesus: the First Unitarian".

Perfect all around. *8)

What else? Oh yes, there's now an Important Health Note on the tale of my ER visit, because I originally misstated one of the drugs they gave me (as an astute reader pointed out).

And speaking of astute readers, I realize that I've been completely overlooking the talking place (both because I'm forgetful, and because it doesn't seem to send me email when someone posts there anymore; I'm about 75% sure that it used to). But anyway thanks to Chuck for recent overlooked contributions on pangrams and the "piles of cards" problem.

Ah, it occurs to me that maybe the reason I haven't been getting mail about the Talking Place is that in general mail to theogeny.com and davidchess.com and chessfamily.org has been having trouble reaching me, apparently for quite some time. I am (in a very leisurely fashion) working with th' ol' web-host here to get it fixed; in the meantime I can be reached as dmchess at gmail.com.

Marie is a large young woman, large without being ponderous, large while still being lithe and lovely in the right light, doing something she loves.

Nature has been kind and cruel to her, as it is kind and cruel to all of us. Her eyes are a bit too far apart, her face is perhaps a bit too flat. Her hands are strong and sure, a potter's hands, an artist's hands. She has an instinctive understanding of clay, she keeps her paints methodically arranged in their rack. And she cannot speak, or read, or write, or understand anything more linguistic than birdsong.

Here is Marie sitting at her wheel, diffuse afternoon sunlight flowing through the clay-speckled glass over the clay, the wheel, her long dirty-blonde hair, her long cotton dress.

She looks up as I come in, and she smiles.

I'm not sure just where she came from, but I like her. *8)