Nate Dickson Thinks...

Small Thoughts for a Quiet World.

We have been being very good about not going out, but we needed some sunlight. So we chose a place that should have been a nice, easy hike, and we hiked up there.

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For years I've been looking for a way to keep an organic, self-organizing system of notes, something that ties all my thoughts together so that I can get at the ones I want based on what I'm doing.

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The band Dinosaur Jr was active and well known during the years when I was in high school; more than that, they are right up my alley, musically. I've heard the name of the band more than once, but I never really knew anything about them. They've just been there.

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There's a neurotic need (in me at any rate) to keep my mind occupied, even in those moments when I don't have a whole lot to do. Not that “constant distraction” is particularly healthy, of course. And when you're just looking for a time filler it's easy to surf the same few short (anti-)social media sites, or short-article sites over and over, perfecting the art of Doomscrolling .

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This is a time where we're all under attack, and I've been doing some house cleaning and inventory.

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It's great advice, except it's more difficult these days. Where is “here”? I'm writing in my house, but the audience isn't here. If I switch web sites, jumping to, say midnight.pub, then I'm addressing an entirely different audience, even though I haven't physically moved at all. So being here must mean being present not only in my location but in my action and intention.

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My family and I went to the lovely Loveland Living Planet Aquarium last night, in masks, counted, and social distanced, so we could get out of the house even in these times. The aquarium is adding a new exhibit, called the EECO that is built under a giant claw-shaped thing that they got from U2's 360° tour. It makes for a striking view from the freeway, and they've put it on a nice plot of land that used to just be ugly dirt near the freeway.

Not the point.

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Many years ago I found a metaphor that explains how our minds process stress. When we are stressed by one thing the stress is like a massive electric charge. The stress then starts to “ground” itself in other things, like a lightning bolt. So suddenly you feel like you're stressed about any number of things, things that really aren't that important. When you're going through this situation you're suddenly surrounded by mountains where you used to be in a field of molehills.

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It turns out I've been using the wrong name for this all along. But I finally saw the light.

Graham Nelson, the creator of the Inform7 programming language gave a talk last year about making the Inform7 language open source. In this talk he referenced Donald Knuth's concept of literate programming, or a style of programming where your code looks like an essay.

For most of my career I've been calling this linguistic programming, as opposed to algorithmic programming. This is a differentiation in style; as both of them get you to more or less the same place: functioning code.

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My wife and I have been married for eighteen years. And of course in that span we've had times where we've had to sleep apart. Business trips or camping trips or hospital trips all lead to us sleeping in different places.

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