Physical reality is very inconvenient


I’ve been doing a lot of springtime work around the house — sanding and repainting the back deck, mowing the lawn (which because of the weeks of rain can now more accurately be described as a dandelion garden), chainsawing the most visible of the dead trees. Here’s what I’ve decided: reality needs a GOTO statement.

As in: I’ve sanded this deck plank. The rest of the job just consists of doing exactly the same thing, shifted six inches to the right, fifty-seven more times. Copy, paste, loop should be all there is to it; the rest of the job should be able to take care of itself with no input from me. Is it just because I’m a programmer that I find repetitive tasks so irritating? Or does everyone feel that way?

This carries over into other areas, too. Emily loves pattern-matching games, things like Sudoku or solitaire or minesweeper: she finds them relaxing (and she’s freakishly good at them; it’s just plain eerie watching her click click click click perfectly accurately zip through the minefield faster than I can even see the numbers come up onscreen.) Me, if I can imagine putting together an algorithm to solve a task, I lose interest in the task. Writing the algorithm itself might be fun, but acting it out, not so much.

One other thing: my chainsaw sucks. The actual cutting-down-trees part I’ve gotten pretty good at: I’m probably in that phase of comfort and familiarity with the tool and the process that leads directly to cutting your own leg off. But it won’t start, and once it starts it won’t idle; I literally spend more time yanking on the pullcord trying to get the thing restarted than I do actually cutting anything. I’ve tried adjusting all of the mysteriously-marked adjustment screws and dials, as well as shouting at it in exasperation, but neither seems to help.