The day looks fair to middling. It is a sundae after all, and being an ORF that is usually the worst day of the week what with mystics and superstitionists running about and abrogating the Constitution. It is also a bit on the low temperature side, somewhere at or in the thirties degF. But I assayed a constitutional in the park and had it not been for a too brisk wind, the constitutional would have been delightful. The podcast was the last part of an episode of “The Pen Addict”, which I listen to mostly to make other horrible podcasts endurable. I was upheld this morning with such a collection of grammar abuses as to make my head tingle. And not just from the sensation of cold.
I also have occasion to celebrate since this is an anniversary date of having my gall bladder extracted. I suppose this is the ORF version of a piercing?
I ran across an excellent cartoon: [Link]
yesterday, and it immediately took me back to my days as a doctoral candidate at the campus of the Tennessee. Since I was doing a theoretical research, a lot of coding was involved. As I have mentioned previously I was working full time for the Yankee army and doing graduate schule in and around. Part of that in and around was to do dissertation coding and work coding in parallel, at least during duty hours. My schedule was to get up early – for those days – and go to the computer center at the U – this was in the days when all the computers were mainframes – and pick up runs, drive onto post, stop at the lab computer center, pick up runs, and then drive to the building where my office was where I immediately went to cafeteria for breakfast. Then I could get an hour or so of work in before the bogs and married-with-bairns arrived. I made a couple of trips to the post computer center during the day but a bit after the bogs and marrieds left, a half hour or so to clear traffic, I would head for campus. Earlier it had been to attend classes but at this stage classes, except mandatory seminar attendance, were past and I went instead to the campus computer center where I worked until shy of midnight. Thence home for a bit of sleep and hygiene before repeating.
The coding was not textbook ideal. After all, this was research code, not organizational operation code. In all likelihood, no one else but me would use it. In fact, that was almost certain since the attitude of my adviser was that coding was irrelevant – he was a horrible coder and our strongest words were about him staying away from my punch cards – so the code was mine and no one else was involved. That was how it was in those days. No group coding hugs, no library of old code. A grad student wrote his own code or dropped out.
And because of that, the commenting was non-existent, or nearly so. I made the natural assumption that what the code did was obvious and all I commented was sections, and then with terse labels. Only things that took lots of mind molting got lots of comments and those usually referred to a notebook location that meant nothing to anyone but me. I never counted the lines of code. Instead we counted pages of code. That was easier and counting was a bit of whimpery. Excellence was fewer pages, not more.
Those were wonderful days. All the code was in FORTRAN; no useless and intrusive GUI garbage to worry about. All you cared about was getting numbers out. Of course plotting was a pain and the body ached from long hours on computer center furniture, all of which was cast off from anywhere and everywhere. Even the Salvation Army and the Good Will wouldn’t have taken that furniture. They’d have burned it. Food was something one ate after submitting a BIG run. Always fast food because there were fast food places five minutes drive – maximum – from campus. And the campus cops, the night shift anyway, all knew and were known by the coding grad students so STOP signs were more suggestions than constraints.
Going to work was good. It was about the only break I got and the primary reason for sleep and hygiene. Going to see adviser was painful, mostly because the rhythm would get broken with new directions, or even writing a paper. But that’s a story for another blot.