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Letter to my younger self

Letter to my younger self


If you can read this, then the time machine worked. Also, it’s really me. I mean you. On your first summer holiday, you found that knife with the shiny red handle and there was nobody around to see you take it, but you put it back anyway. See? It’s really me. That is, you, but twenty years older. So listen.

First and foremost, stop worrying so much about all that petty crap. Everything works out fine in the end. Laugh some more, relax, live a little. Your good friends will remain your friends twenty years down the line. The assholes will be virtually forgotten by the time you get to college. So there.

Also, the cute little blonde girl that you fell in love with in 9th grade? Just have the guts to tell her outright – the sooner, the better. Sticking around like a love-sick puppy never solves anything. You’ll end up telling her anyway – right before you leave for college – and she’ll laugh it off and you’ll stay friends. The only thing unrequited love is good for is poetry. And your high-school poetry sucks.

Let your hair grow just like you always wanted. There’ll come a time when sadly that won’t be an option any more.

Go see your grandparents while they’re still around. They love you and your sister more than anything else in the world. You’ll be out of the country soon, and you don’t get to visit much. No, I’m not telling you where you end up. Spoilers, you know.

Spend more time with dad. He’s not going to be around for much longer. Get him to quit smoking, if you can. Also, stop talking and start listening every once in a while. Not everything is a contest of wills, and you don’t need to get your way every damn time. Might even be better in the long run if you don’t.

Be fair with others and treat them with respect, even when it’s so tempting to do otherwise. Don’t forget that people that love you get hurt the most. And when that time comes when you have no idea where you’re going (I promise you, you’ll know), just figure it out by yourself. Don’t take other people along for the ride. They only get hurt in the end.

Did you know that the metabolism slows down in your twenties? Neither did I. Now you have no excuse to stop exercising. Get a bike. Trust me, it pays off.

Hope this little letter won’t change our lives so much that the created paradox blows me out of existence. Or ends the universe as we know it. I tried to keep it as spoiler-free as possible; I’m only telling you things that you’re going to figure out by yourself later anyway. Well, duh. Have a nice life, mate. See you in twenty years.

* * *

Oh, what the hell. BUY GOOGLE!



castlefest logoSo it came to pass that in the beginning of August, the Year 7519 since this World was Made, we found ourselves yet again setting foot on the hallowed gardens of Castle Keukenhof, with the Lords and the Ladies and the Orcs and the Trolls and the Elves and the Vampires and the Savages and the Steampunks and such, an ever growing list of common, warrior and faerie folk, coming forth in the sun to be seen and recognized. And there was much feasting and rejoicing and happiness all around, for many were they and varied their costumes, and there was mead and ale to be had, and meats from the grill, and bread from the oven, and song and laughter from the minstrels and fools, and even the warlocks and witches, such as they were, refrained from casting curses that day, and hid their evil eye from sight of the common folk. And I, being of whim and inclination to share with you all this joyous event, and having spent coin aplenty on such imp-powered Gnomish contraption known by its arcane name of CanonPicturer, went forth and set said imps to work, with their coloured inks and their wee paintbrushes. And the fruits of my labour I shall set here forthwith, pending leave from such Lords and Ladies that so graciously have lent their likeness to be pictured by the intrepid imps living in my Gnomish gizmo.

Or, if you prefer the announcement Twitter-style:

Been to #Castlefest 2011, great fun, pictures pending @

It’s probably going to take a little while, what with them being shot in RAW and needing developing and cropping and whatnot, but I hope to get a steady flow of pictures published on my deviantArt account in a few days. Stay tuned 🙂

Update: For all the people that ended up on this page while searching for Castlefest pictures, I’ll be posting my deviantArt submissions also here.

Steampunk fairyDryadMaikoThe immortalizerThe gentlemanMaris BroodTwi'lekRedSky captainNavigatorBlue-eyed gentlemanFeed the goblinsFired upWitch queenFrozen fireHello, lunchI am JealousyTemptress

On euphemisms, or why ‘heck’ is a four-letter word

On euphemisms, or why ‘heck’ is a four-letter word

reverse_euphemismsWhat is a reference? For a software engineer, that’s a language construct that takes you to a certain place in the computer’s memory. You may have multiple references to that place. They may even be called differently, or describe said place in different terms; if they get you to the exact same place, you can safely say they are equivalent1. They have, if you will, different forms, but the same underlying meaning. References are a programmer’s euphemism, and in this context they’re quite useful, too.

Which is not something I would care to say about the euphemisms in the natural language.

At best, euphemism is metaphor’s retarded cousin. And justifiably so, because a metaphor still leaves some room for the imagination, whereas with an euphemism everyone knows what you intend to say. Semantically, it doesn’t make any difference if you replace ‘hell’ with ‘heck’ each and every time. Rest assured, people will know what you mean. We just do the reverse substitution in our head. You know you’re swearing, we know you’re swearing, so why pussyfooting around that one four-letter word? It may have sounded cute in kindergarten, but you’re an adult now. Either assume your fucking swear words or refrain from swearing at all.

There are only a few valid reasons for employing an euphemism instead of the actual word. The most remarkable is the use of formal or diplomatic language, which is almost as precise as a programming language in nuances and accents. Given that this code was born out of the necessity to communicate a monarch’s wishes to his hated adversary while kneeling within decapitation range, it is no wonder that those glorified messengers tried to convey as little offence as possible. Therefore obscenities and profanity are simply not included in this highly specialized construct. You have to admit though, they would have ensured substantially juicier WikiLeaks disclosures.

Another reason is speaking in front of children. This is still a valid use in my view, because children typically assume and repeat adult behaviour without completely understanding it, which can lead to them being hurt or shunned for no reason. An adult can be reasonably expected to assume responsibility for his utterances – that is, barring exonerating circumstances such as acute Tourette’s syndrome. It is not fair to ask the same of children, especially when they do not discern the true significance and weight that society places on such words.

Other than that? I do not see the point. I’m certainly not advocating swearing like a sailor in polite conversation, but if you feel like swearing either abstain or do it properly. ‘Piddle’ is not currently registered as a swearword. Neither is ‘poppycock’.

Come to think of it, some of the most used swear words of today have begun their career as euphemisms. How sad is that? The aforementioned ‘hell’ is actually an euphemism for ’underground’. In the Norse mythology, Hel is Loki’s daughter, and she’s in charge of – who would have guessed? – Nilfheim, the lowest of all worlds, apparently also populated with evil dead. ‘Cock’ means what you expect, a male mature bird, but it also denominated the firing mechanism on muskets. The expression ‘going around half-cocked’ comes from this latter context, and it actually means having a weapon that is not ready to fire. As for ‘fuck’, the word every prude loves to hate, its original meaning was ‘to thrust’, which explains rather neatly why it was so suitable for describing – euphemistically, of course – the act of sexual intercourse2.

In fact, I have recently encountered said word it in quite polite company. It was used in Jack Vance’s 1966 Nebula award winning novella, ‘The Last Castle3, from which I’d like to quote the full paragraph:

Xanten looked up toward the heavens, kicked at the turf. He drew a deep breath and approached to Glys Meadow-sweet. He noted that she had fucked a flower into her long loose hair.

After a second or two she looked up and searched his face.

“Why are you so angry?”

Xanten slapped his thigh, seated himself beside her.

” ‘Angry’? No. I am out of my mind with frustration. […]”

Jack Vance has a keen interest in language; in fact, languages take centre stage in another one of his masterpieces, ‘The languages of Pao’ where he examines how linguistic relativity could influence a nation’s world view4. You can hardly accuse him of bastardising his beloved English language. And, as a lover of language, I’m sure he cringed at every ‘gosh’, ‘geez’ or ‘golly’ that happened to cross his path.

Note the frustration of his hero, Xanten. Perhaps he too had to deal with one euphemism too many.

Note: This post was inspired by the encounter of one ‘heck‘ too many in  the SCPJ Study Guide book that I’m supposed to study for my Java certification exam. Who says procrastination can’t be fun?

  1. I know, I know, I oversimplified things. I’ll see your union and raise you a reinterpret_cast<> 😉 []
  2. And it also has precisely four letters! How convenient! []
  3. The linked article is more of an author review, but you’ll get the idea. []
  4. A topic that is making a come-back nowadays in the field of neurolinguistic programming in applied economics, and consumer behaviour in particular. []