Three Interesting Things

Short post tonight: I just found three interesting things on the net tonight that I felt like sharing.

First, an interview with my favorite author, Neal Stephenson at provided an interesting quote on the nature of programming: “I think there are common threads between writing and programming. That’s a really easy statement for people to misunderstand and twist around so I’m a little leery of making it. All I’m saying is that the thing you’re making — the novel or the computer program — has got a very complicated and finely wrought hierarchical structure to it. The structure has to work right or the whole thing fails. But the only way you can work on it is by hitting one character at a time. You’re building this thing one character at a time while having to maintain the whole structure in your head. That description applies equally well to programming and novel writing even though they’re very different activities.”

Second, an article from National Review Online on the nature of stupidity and laziness. It starts out with a Jonathan Swift “A Modest Proposal” sort of feel to it that provoked some thought. It declines near the end, but I thought it was worth a read.

Third, an amusing quote from Lance Armstrong: “If there was a god, I’d still have both nuts.”

Home Repair

Home Repair
Originally uploaded by tdouthat.
Good morning. It’s Saturday. I got up about half an hour ago, and I’ve done several of my usual morning chores. I didn’t bother with the showering since I’m going to be painting the living room in a little bit. We started having… Actually we had our first family meeting last Sunday and I hope it is the first of regular weekly meetings. We set up days for each one of the four of us to cook one dinner a week, and we talked about the work that needs to be done around the house. The decision was made that the first project for us to work on would be to finish painting the living room and foyer. Jill has a soccer game at 3:00 so I probably won’t get a heck of a lot done before then, but at least I will have started on it.

During the family meetings we also talked about the fact that we need to save some money so that we can buy new siding for the house. I’m supposed to report back every week on how much I’ve paid off the credit cards so we know when we’re getting close to the point where we can run up some more debt to pay for the siding. What would be really nice would be if I could pay off the credit cards, and at the same time, save the money to pay for the siding, but that isn’t terribly likely. The siding is starting to look visibly shitty even from a block away. When I turn the corner from Indian onto Belmont, I can see the patches of rot at the bottom of the hardboard on the northeast side of the house. Board and batten siding is supposed to be inexpensive and easy to maintain, but the fuckers that built this house bought an odd size that you can only get from Sutherland’s lumber around here. Plus you then have to have a table saw to cut the damn thing to size, a ladder to get up on the side of the house, and help from at least one other person in order to hold the thing in place while you nail it up, and then you half to put the batten back on and caulk around the nail holes and seams before you paint it. Does any of that sound easy to maintain to you? Here’s what would be easy: It takes one person with a screw gun ten minutes to take down the existing piece of siding and put up the new one. You’d probably still need a ladder to get up high.

Speaking of ladders, why don’t they make them with a weight limit of more than 225 pounds. Is that some sort of standard weight limit? My 296.5 pound ass is scared to death to get up on one of those rickety little bitches out of fear that it will collapse under me when I get to the top. I need to buy a heavy duty extension ladder, but the ones that will hold my weight are ridiculously expensive. I don’t know how I’m ever going to be able to paint the ceiling and upper walls in our foyer. I hate to think it, but I may have to rent scaffolding from Home Depot in order to get it done. These stupid home designers just don’t think about the people who are going to own these houses and about how they are going to have to maintain them. I guess the same could be said of programmers and the systems they write. 11:23