Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

Daywander (Again)

I guess for symmetry’s sake I have to hand you two Daywanders in a row. Blame symmetry if you want; here you go:

It’s (almost) all good news. Carol is improving daily, though still using crutches for long hauls. Her foot hurts when she uses it too much. She’s about to begin physical therapy, which should help. And in three weeks she goes in to get the other one done. We knew this winter was going to be spent mostly at home, though neither of us fully appreciated just how at home we were going to be. Then again, dancing with that girl is as close to heaven as I’ll get on this old Earth. It’s not even three years until our 40th wedding anniversity celebration. Dancing you want? Dancing we’ll give you!

Our Lionel trains are up! It’s been several years, but with a little unexpected help from Jim Strickland, the Camel and the GG-1 are tearing around a longish loop that now surrounds both of our livingroom couches, powered by my formidable Lionel ZW. We put some liver treats in Carol’s 1959 hopper car, and of all the Pack, only Dash was willing to chase the train around and scoop the treats up out of the hopper. He was also the only one willing to grab Louie the Giggling Squirrel from the same hopper.

I find myself renewing an old friendship while writing a chapter on programming. (The book itself is largely about hardware.) Back in the early 1990s I spent a certain amount of time with Tcl/Tk and much enjoyed it. Visual Basic was brand new, and creating GUI apps was still mortal drudgery facilitated by the king of mortally drudgerous languages, C. In 1993, all you got with Tk was Motif. Funny to think of Motif as a bottom-feeder GUI now, when back then it was nothing short of breathtaking. Today Tk gives you native look-and-feel, and there are bindings for just about any language you’d ever want, and there are more computer languages these days than mosquitoes in Minnesota. I’m using a binding for Python called TKinter that basically gives you Tcl/Tk without Tcl. That’s good, since Tcl is a bit of a dud as languages go and the main reason I dropped Tcl/Tk like a hot rock when the Delphi beta wandered in the door at PC Techniques. Python isn’t Pascal but it’s way better than all the toothless C wannabees that represent the sum total of recent language research, especially JavaScript, the Woodrow Wilson of programming languages. If you just can’t bring yourself to use The Kiddie Language without falling into fits on the floor and drowning in the dog’s water bowl, well, Python and TKinter represent the easiest way to lash up a GUI that I’ve ever seen.

Then again, Delphi and Lazarus are just better.

Carol and I got the Christmas cards out today. It didn’t get done last year because Carol’s mom was failing and we knew we had only one more Christmas with her. Between Carol’s foot and my book project it almost didn’t get done this year either, but we’re trying to get back real life as life should be lived. Christmas cards are part of that. No complaints.

Bad news? Not much. I was pulling a pizza out of the oven a couple of nights ago, and fumbled the pan with my gloved right hand. Fearing that dinner was about to go jelly-side-down on the kitchen floor, my reflexes put my un-gloved left hand in the line of fire, and whereas I saved the pizza, it came at the cost of second-degree burns on two fingers and the thumb of my left hand. It’s not bothering me as much today as yesterday, and my typing speed is slowly getting back to my accustomed Thunderin’ Duntemann (Thanks, Fiona!) 100 WPM. But I promise you, the next pizza that gets wonky on me is gonna go jelly-side down, while I stand there and laugh. I may be 61, but I learn.

New featured pairing: Stilton cheese and Middle Sister Rebel Red wine. Very good news.

As most people have already discovered just sticking their noses out the back door, 2013 looks to become one of the ten coldest years in US history. It may not be global, but damn, it’s cooling.

And that, my friends, makes me look to my now-empty snifter of brandy and egg nog beside the monitor. Time for a refill. Long past time, in fact.


  1. Tom Roderick says:

    Sorry to hear about your pizza burn Jeff. I have had some pretty good (or is that bad?) burns in my mouth from being too anxious to chomp down on some very hot pizza, but so far have not burned my hand. On the other hand I have, more than once I am sorry to say, managed to grab my soldering iron before it hit the floor after I bumped it off the workbench. I never did seem to grab it by the handle on the way down.

  2. Bob Fegert says:

    I also prefer Pascal to C but I’m sorta stuck with C since most of the code I write these days is for microcontrollers. There is a good Pascal for ARM, AVR, 8051 and PIC32. But the industry standard is to use C so I’m saddled with it.

  3. Jack Smith says:

    Merry Christmas!

    Lazarus badly needs a book along the lines of “Complete Turbo Pascal.” Any chance that is in the works for 2014?

    I like Lazarus and in the last year or so it’s become quite usable compared with the bug-a-minute nature of the early releases. But the documentation still is terrible and until that is corrected, I can’t recommend Lazarus to anyone without experience with Delphi.

    1. Yes, Lazarus does, and I still intend to write it. In fact, I’ve already got a reasonable chunk of it done. I had hoped to get An Actual Publisher to buy it, but that seems less and less likely. It’s on my list of projects to pursue this year.

      1. William Meyer says:

        Another vote from me. My day job is in Delphi, but there are certainly attractive things about FPC/Lazarus.

        1. Oh, the book will happen. The only question is whether I’ll publish it myself, or whether an existing publisher will publish it. With Delphi now a 4-figure expense, I doubt I’d sell many books to students and casual programmers like myself.

          1. Bob Fegert says:

            Yes, Delphi is just too expensive to have a wide user base now.

            I got my first copy of Delphi for free. It was a standard version included on a CD attached to a UK computer magazine.

            I eagerly await your Lazarus book.

  4. Lee Devlin says:

    Hi Jeff,

    There you go again, criticizing the undisputed winners of the language wars. ;-).

    I’m a ‘bitter clinger’ according to our president’s definition because I believe in the U.S. constitution and a creator. And I know another bitter clinger when I see one. Although our president knows little about computer programming, I’d like to think that if he did, he’d be caught on an open mic opining with a zinger quote like this:

    “You go into these failed programming language communities where their languages have been duds now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them, and they fell through the Clinton Administration, and the Bush Administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these languages are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to Pascal or Delphi or antipathy to C-like languages and they use anti-C and anti-JavaScript sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

    I didn’t like the C language when I first began to learn it, nor did I like Unix. Neither are beginner-friendly. But over last 3 decades, I began to develop a respect for the longevity of both the C language and Unix in their various forms and felt that there must be something that allowed them to succeed where many other worthy languages and operating systems have effectively been relegated to the scrap heap.

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